By Steve Elliott of Toke of the Town
Twenty police officers, some in masks and riot gear, stormed an Arizona home last week after receiving a tip that the owner was in possession of an ounce of marijuana.
The homeowner, Ross Taylor, is a legal, card-carrying patient under the state's new medical marijuana law, and is therefore allowed to possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis, reports Ray Stern at Phoenix New Times. Taylor is also the owner of Cannabis Patient Screening Centers, a new company that matches up patients with doctors for medical marijuana recommendations.
The aggressive cops handcuffed Taylor and his wife, served a search warrant on the home and found a grand total of two ounces of marijuana and a small amount of hashish, which is concentrated cannabis.
The over-enthusiastic porkers seized the marijuana and some paraphernalia from an upstairs closet, even though the total weight was under the legal threshold, then informed Taylor he'd "likely be hearing from the prosecutor's office" about criminal charges.
Sgt. Bill Balafas, acting as spokesman for the Gilbert Police Department, claimed that because Taylor bought the pot from another person, as opposed to growing it himself, his possession of it wasn't legal despite his status as a patient.
"People are being harassed," said Taylor. "They want political control."
Police claim they had no idea that Taylor owned a medical marijuana-related company, nor that he had a valid registration card. Does this mean that they'll feel free to come swarming in as a low-IQ SWAT team and knock down the doors of any patient without even checking first?
"That's the first problem, as we see it," Stern wrote. "Cops went through the trouble of drafting a search warrant and having it signed by a judge, but apparently didn't bother to check in with the state Department of Health Services to find out if Taylor was in the patient registry, which he was."
Exactly what good it does having a patient registry when half-wit cops refuse to check the damn thing before going all Rambo on seriously ill medical marijuana users would appear to be a valid question at this point.
The raiding cops cut Taylor's power and water to his home just prior to the raid, presumably to stop anyone from flushing the pot or sending it down the disposal.
They knocked and "screamed" they had a search warrant, according to Taylor, so he let them in.
The excitable drug warriors even handcuffed three employees of All My Sons Moving and Storage, who were in the process of helping Taylor move into his new home. The cops, some with shields and holding shotguns, announced they were "with the SWAT team" and detained the innocent movers for about an hour, according to Kevin Anderson, manager of All My Sons.
Taylor, meanwhile, showed the cops his medical marijuana card. One of the masked, hostile, evidently not-very-damn-intelligent officers told him, "I don't even know if you're supposed to have this card," and referred to the Gov. Jan Brewer's lawsuit against the new law.
Of course, don't hold your breath expecting clueless Gov. Brewer, who wouldn't know leadership if it bit her on her wrinkled ass, to accept any responsibility for encouraging rogue actions like this against suffering patients.
Taylor told the officers he'd bought the pot from another qualified patient, and they told him that meant his weed wasn't legal. During the raid, police claimed they called the state health department and were told that patients "cannot legally buy from anyone else," according to Balafas.
Balafas did not know the name of the DHS representative to whom the officers talked. Laura Oxley, spokeswoman for the DHS, was also unable to provide a name.
The official Arizona DHS website answers the question, "Where can I legally buy marijuana if I am a qualifying patient?" thusly:
"Qualifying patients can obtain medical marijuana from a dispensary, the qualifying patient's designated caregiver, another qualifying patient, or, if authorized to cultivate, from home cultivation." [Emphasis added.]
Balafas also claimed the hashish wasn't legal under Arizona's medical law, which would be interesting, since hashish is nothing more than concentrated marijuana.
"If so, it would be nothing less than a loophole for cops to bust qualified patients who have converted pot plants into a more concentrated form," Stern writes in New Times.
"Maybe this was their way of saying 'Welcome to Gilbert,' " Taylor said of the police raid.
Article From Toke of the Town and republished with special permission.