Grover Beach Officials Debate Return of Medical Marijuana

January 18, 2007

Amy Andrews, KSBY NBC TV (CA)

Grover Beach city officials are meeting tonight, with an unprecedented task: to decide whether to have the city's police chief return marijuana to a local resident. A special closed meeting is getting ready to start here at the Ramona Gardens Park Center. The topic of discussion: medical marijuana.

Yesterday, a judge ordered the Grover Beach Police Department to hand over the 20 grams of medical marijuana it seized last year. The department was reluctant to return the pot, saying it's illegal under federal law.

Grover Beach Police Chief Jim Copsey met with the city attorney after the court order came down. They decided to hold a special meeting with city council to determine how to proceed.

The city has until 5:00 p.m. tomorrow to return the marijuana to Kenneth Parson.

"It is pretty clear the judge has sent a strong message to them," says Parson's attorney, Louis Koory."The message is: 'Turn over the property, or pay $5,900 in fines.' I will let the people decide what the city should do."

But Chief Copsey has a different point of view on the matter. "We believe -- through federal court decisions -- that it is still federal law and federal law trumps state law and not to the contrary," says Copsey. "We've been looking at different alternatives to prevent the return of a Schedule One illegal drug."

City officials have several options. They can decide to return the medical marijuana to Parson. Or they can choose to appeal the judge's decision to a higher court.

We'll have tonight's outcome tonight on Action News at 11:00 p.m.

In California, voters passed Proposition 215 legalizing medical marijuana. Marijuana remains illegal under the Federal Controlled Substance Act.

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