California State Senator Noreen Evans introduced a bill (Senate Bill 1193) which would force California police officers to return any marijuana or smoking paraphernalia they seize. They will also have to reimburse patients for any these items which they may damage. This is, however, so long as these items were legally obtained.
In her press release, Evans cited a case in which a medical marijuana patient who had $20,000 worth of legal pot destroyed by police in San Luis Obispo. As it is currently illegal for police to hand weed to citizens, the patient had to be reimbursed in cash. This bill would work to reduce these sorts of unnecessary costs. The same bill would also reduce the amount of pot law enforcement agencies would be required to hold in evidence at any time. The current laws require agencies to store ten pounds of cannabis, plus five random samples.
Evans stated in her press release: “This bill serves the dual purposes of assisting law enforcement at a practical level with marijuana storage and securing the rights of individuals who are following the law. It’s not too often we have the collaboration of peace officers and the medical marijuana industry on legislation. Clearly this bill is a solution that reflects good policy for California as we come to terms with some of the more practical and logistical concerns of medical marijuana in the state.”
This bill, especially it’s second point, has garnered support from law-enforcement departments across the state, who have long felt the ten pound requirement was difficult to keep up with. Past press releases have suggested that many sheriffs’ departments, particularly in rural northern California, have found the storage of the “ten pound” requirement burdensome. The new bill will see this target reduced to two pounds, and five random samples; effectively reducing the cost of seizing pot on the state by 80 percent.
This bill may have been crafted address the government’s bottom line, not the persecution of stoners, but this isn’t such a bad thing. The alleviation of the cost of seizures, processing and storage on these agencies can only contribute to removing negative attitudes towards smokers.
Senate Bill 1193 was filed with Secretary of State September 24, 2012 and approved by Governor September 24, 2012.