Pot is back to Morro owner
April 08, 2005
Leslie Griffy, Tribune News
Morro Bay police will return 75 pot plants to their rightful owner, but the plants aren't as leafy and green as the last time Robert Marshall saw them.
Even though police confiscated Marshall's lights and other indoor growing equipment, they didn't nurture the plants.
'We don't have money or facilities to take care of them,' said Morro Bay police Cmdr. Tim Olivas. 'We end up pulling them (up) and waiting for trial.'
When the trial date arrived five months later, a superior court judge decided Marshall is a primary caregiver for two patients and was growing the drug legally.
Because he didn't break the law, the judge ruled Friday that Marshall can have his plants back -- not that it does him or his patients much good.
Altogether, the now-dried marijuana spent seven months unattended in the evidence room and wasn't mature enough to be an effective drug when police pulled the plants out of the potting soil.
'There really is no guideline that says police have to keep the plants alive or tend to them,' said Louis Koory, Marshall's attorney.
Caregivers often end up in court because there is no standardized paperwork designating them as legal growers, said Dale Gieringer, California's coordinator for the marijuana legalization group National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. But, he added, it is not uncommon for police to return seized plants.
Counties are supposed to set up registration systems for medical marijuana users and growers. But San Luis Obispo County, like many others, hasn't because the state Department of Health Services has not laid out guidelines for how registration should work.
While the plants are dead, it could be a lot worse for Marshall's patients.
'It's not such a big setback because they were (grown) indoors,' Gieringer said.
It takes a lot less time to grow new plants to maturity that way and begin harvesting them.