Pubdate: Tue, 16 Sep 2008
Source: Orange County Register, The (CA)
Copyright: 2008 The Orange County Register
Author: Cindy Carcamo, The Orange County Register
Cited: Americans for Safe Access
Referenced: The guidelines
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal)


'That's A Chunk of Hash,' Huntington Beach Man Says.

HUNTINGTON BEACH- It was like Christmas Day for Jim Spray. He giggled 
with glee as he tore into brown paper bags as if they were presents.

These bags, however, were filled with jars of his medical marijuana 
and other paraphernalia that had been stored for nearly three years 
at the city's police department.

A court order today forced officials to give it back, marking the 
second time in a year that Huntington Beach police have had to return 
seized marijuana to a patient after court rulings stated that the 
marijuana should not have been seized in the first place.

"That's a chunk of hash," said Spray, a 52-year-old trade show 
decorator from Huntington Beach. A tall, stocky police official 
watched as the medical marijuana patient inspected a tiny eye 
shadow-sized container full of hashish.

"It's still good. I almost forgot about all this," said Spray, who 
uses medical marijuana because of pain from a herniated disc.

It has been almost three years since Huntington Beach officers 
confiscated Spray's estimated 4 ounces of marijuana and a $1,000 
growing system, which included special lighting and a water-timing system.

While police had destroyed most of the growing equipment, officials 
returned Spray's marijuana today after an order from Orange County 
Superior Court Judge Thomas Borris.

The order came nearly nine months after the 4th District Court of 
Appeal ruled that the city must return Spray's marijuana and 
equipment taken from his home in Nov. 2005. Spray was represented by 
attorneys with medical marijuana advocacy group, Americans for Safe Access.

The Huntington Beach Police Department doesn't have a policy 
regarding medical marijuana, officials have said in the past. 
Officers interpret the Compassionate Use Act as protecting medical 
marijuana recipients from prosecution, not arrest.

The 1996 law allows people to use medical marijuana in California. 
Federal law, however, outlaws all marijuana use.

On Aug. 25, state Attorney General Jerry Brown developed guidelines 
for the first time since the passing of the act. The most notable 
guideline upholds the legality of medical marijuana dispensaries that 
operate as nonprofit cooperatives or collectives.

In addition, the new directive essentially tells law enforcement 
officials that they cannot take marijuana from medical marijuana 
patients in the first place and are not allowed to charge them if 
they are carrying less than 8 ounces.

Agencies, such as Huntington Beach, however, are still trying to 
figure out what to make of Brown's directive since it is opinion and 
not law, officials said.

About six months ago, Dave Lucas of Huntington Beach also retrieved 
his purple urkel a higher end marijuana and a couple of smoking pipes 
officers confiscated from him more than a year ago.

Lucas retrieved his medical marijuana in April, after waiting for the 
California Supreme Court to decline to review an appellate court 
ruling, which ordered Garden Grove police to return seized medical 
marijuana to Felix Kha.

In November, Kha won the right to get his medical marijuana returned 
to him. A month later, the same court also ruled in Spray's favor.

"Hopefully they'll stop taking people's medicine away," Spray said 
today out loud in the police lobby.

Spray said he plans to file a claim against Huntington Beach because 
of his destroyed marijuana growing equipment. Medical marijuana 
advocates Bill Britt and Marvin Chavez Sr., who were there for 
support, helped Spray with the about half a dozen bags of once-seized pot.

"Do you know how much of a pleasure it is to take medicine from the 
department?" Chavez, a medical marijuana patient and advocate, said. 
"It's such a victory." 
- ---
MAP posted-by: Richard Lake