Police hold man's medical marijuana

March 06, 2006

Ben Baeder, San Gabriel Valley Tribune

A man whose marijuana-cultivation charge was dismissed because he was using it for medical purposes is having a hard time getting his plants and seeds back from police.

The case against Antonio Perry, 33, was thrown out in January at Pomona Superior Court when he produced a doctor's note stating his marijuana was for medical use. And now the Glendora police have no reason or right to keep his marijuana, Perry said.

"I spent years trying to cultivate those breeds," he said. "The seeds are irreplaceable."

Perry, who now lives in

La Verne, has visited the Glendora Police Station three times to retrieve property seized during a raid on his Glendora mobile home in March 2005.

Police on Monday agreed to return growing equipment and rifles seized during the raid after they received permission from the judge who issued the search warrant, said Glendora police Lt. Joe Ward.

But the department will keep the marijuana and seeds until Perry produces an order from the judge who dismissed the case, Ward said.

The department followed normal procedure by waiting for a judge's order to release the property, he said.

"We had a search warrant when we made the seizure," Ward said. "Whenever we seize something with a court order, we need a court order to return it."

According to Perry and Ward, a judge normally makes a note in the trial minutes to release all property to the defendant. The note does not appear in the minutes of the case dismissed in January, both men agreed.

Perry said he uses marijuana to ease pain and increase circulation in his hand, part of which was blown off when a cartridge exploded through the chamber of his rifle when he was target shooting, he said.

He also suffers from pain in his back and head from previous injuries, he said.

A spokesman for a medical-marijuana advocacy group said Glendora police should release the marijuana and seeds without making Perry go through the hassle of returning to court.

"It shouldn't have to be an onerous procedure," said Kris Hermes, legal campaign director for Americans for Safe Access. "With dismissal papers in hand, a patient should be able to go to the police department that did the raid without having to get the legal papers."

Experts say cities dealing with the marijuana question are in a tough spot. Federal law makes it illegal to distribute marijuana, so returning marijuana could technically violate the law. But, in California, voters have passed laws approving marijuana for medical use.

Glendora has never taken up the issue of allowing the distribution of medical marijuana, city officials said. In Whittier, medical marijuana can be distributed from businesses in parts of the city. In Pasadena, distribution is illegal. In Garden Grove, officials have appealed a court order to return seized marijuana to Felix Kha, whose case was dismissed in 2005 after he proved he was using the marijuana for medical purposes, Hermes said.

ben.baeder@sgvn.com

(626) 962-8811, Ext. 2703



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