California Court Says Police Have to Give Back Marijuana They Seize During Arrests

Marijuana legalization has created several new wrinkles in law enforcement, such as what happens if you find cannabis on a person you're arresting on other charges. But now a California court says the cops have to give you back your stash.

The California Superior Court ruled that police officers who seize legal amounts of marijuana from a suspect are required to return it to the owner. A judge ruled earlier this year that officers did not have to give the marijuana back because they could possibly be seen as illegally distributing the drug and opening themselves up to criminal prosecution since cannabis is illegal at the federal level. However the three-judge panel at the Superior Court noted their are laws in place at both the federal and state level that protect officers from prosecution when handling illegal narcotics. And while those laws are in place for when police officers are seizing drugs, the court said those same laws should also apply if the officers are giving them back.

The court further said police officers would simply be acting in pursuant to a court order, not acting as drug dealers.

The Superior Court also noted that the court had ruled in 2007 that police officers are required to give medical marijuana back to its owners in such cases, so it makes sense that the same principle would apply to recreational marijuana as well.

Of course, this only applies to people whose marijuana is seized but they are never prosecuted for a crime. If you end up in jail, don't expect the police to hold on to your stash until you get out.

(h/t SFGate)


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