Pubdate: Thu, 05 Mar 2015
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Copyright: 2015 The Washington Post Company
Authors: Peter Hermann and Aaron C. Davis


Here's the reality of the District's new law on legalized pot: Get 
busted while also holding two ounces of marijuana or less, and D.C. 
police will give it back to you.

It happened this week at the 6th District police station in Northeast 
Washington. A man who had been arrested returned for the things that 
police take before they cart you off to jail. Among this man's 
possessions happened to be a small amount of marijuana - which police 
now view as property to store rather than contraband to seize.

And this man - according to an aide to a D.C. Council member who 
witnessed the exchange, unheard of just a week ago - told the officer 
behind the desk, "You have my marijuana; you have my weed.'"

The exchange occurred Monday night, as a community meeting of the 
Fort Dupont Civic Association was going on. Some folks were a bit 
taken aback watching what looked like a drug deal in a police 
station. Council member Yvette M. Alexander (D-Ward 7), whose aide 
was there, took to Twitter to recount the tale.

Turns out the cops did everything right. The new law, which took 
effect Feb. 26, made possession of two ounces or less of marijuana in 
the District a legal recreational activity for those 21 and older.

D.C. police can return seized marijuana under various scenarios. 
Imagine that police catch you with pot and think you're underage. If 
you prove otherwise, you get your pot back. If police seize what they 
think is more than two ounces and later learn that it's less, you get 
your pot back. Police can also return the drugs along with other 
property taken from an arrestee, which is what happened Monday.

"This property was less than two ounces of marijuana and was returned 
to the arrestee with the other property held at the time of his 
arrest," said Gwendolyn Crump, the D.C. police department's chief spokeswoman.

Crump, having heard about the raised eyebrows from the civic group 
members, added, "A 6th [Police] District official briefed them on the new law."

A special order to officers notes that legal marijuana that needs to 
be stored must be placed in a heat-sealed bag. The directive advises, 
"Treat it as prisoner's property."

Alexander's associate director for constituent services, Dexter 
Humphrey, said he and others watched the man ask for his pot to be 
returned, then watched as the officer searched for a response.

"To the officer's credit, he said, ' This is a first for me; I never 
did this before,' " Humphrey said. The officer disappeared into the 
back and emerged with a property clerk who recognized the arrestee, 
who looked to be in his 20s.

The property clerk handed the man a bag of marijuana. Humphrey said 
he asked the officer, "How many years have you been doing this?" and 
"Have you ever arrested a suspect, found marijuana and turned around 
given it back to him?' "

Eleven years on the force, Humphrey recalled the officer saying. And, 
"No, I never did that before."
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