The new five-page policy is based on California law: patients with a doctor's prescription or a government issued medical marijuana I.D. card can have a half pound of dried marijuana and either six mature plants or a dozen immature plants.
Deputies couldn't seize the marijuana if the medical claim is valid and the amount under the legal limit. But, the pot can be taken away if the deputy believes it's being used or sold illegally.
"We had to come up with something because there's that grey area. There are some jurisdictions that do go in and are arresting folks without the proper cards," says Dennis Gutierrez, Spokesman for the Riverside County Sheriff's Department.
The new policy started in mid-November. A representative from the sheriff's department says those guidelines are likely to change in the future particularly when dealing with medical marijuana collectives.
The new policy also outlines guidelines for marijuana collectives. But, there's no mention in the copy sent to News Channel 3. Those guidelines are covered in an attachment emailed to deputies. The new policy discusses collective locations and how much pot they should have.
"We want to be sure that whoever opens one up in our areas that we address the needs not only the patients but also the city," says Gutierrez.
Medical marijuana activist Lanny Swerdlow met with the sheriff's department to outline how to deal with collectives. He says the department ignored his recommendations to release the policy to the collectives.
"I don't see what the problem is why they can't lay down in this guideline specific criteria that when a police officer comes into a collective they look for A, they look for B, they look for C and if everything is line they say, ' Thank you very much.' Walk away and leave them alone," says Swerdlow.
But with local, state and federal lawmakers getting involved, it's hard to say if policing medical marijuana is going to get easier anytime soon.
By Rodney Wardle
December 3, 2009
The video can be found at New Rules For Seizing Medical Marijuana
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New Rules For Seizing Medical Marijuana