OK, legal beagles, explain this one for me - how do Denver Cops legally justify seizing my less than one ounce of marijuana at the Denver Airport TSA Lost & Found?
Here's the story: I went to the DPA Reform Conference in Denver. I had a small wooden stash box. In it was less than three grams of marijuana and a glass one-hitter. As I flew out of TSA, I accidentally left my stash box, as well as a small card wallet with my Oregon medical marijuana caregiver card in it and two travel pillows, at the TSA security station.
A fan read my lamentations over the situation and offered to pick up the stuff from DIA Lost & Found. I called ahead to a nice woman named Francine, who assured me my stuff had been turned in, it was all there. I let her know a friend would pick it up for me, she recorded my consent for the pickup, and all was well.
After I received the package from my fan this Saturday, I noticed a business card from Officer Dan H. Dietz of the Denver International Airport's police taped to my stash box, which was empty.
So... it seems TSA found my stuff and turned it into lost and found, but Denver police seized my marijuana and one-hitter. Which, as I understand it, were both perfectly legal items to possess under Colorado's constitution.
Today I called Officer Dietz and left a message, which was just returned by Officer Rick Stevens. He explained to me that TSA's lost and found does not accept drugs, so Denver police had my marijuana and pipe, which I had to go pick up personally.
I asked, "Why is Denver police confiscating something from me that is perfectly legal under the Constitution." He declined to get into the constitutionality of the situation and expressed that what Denver police had done was perfectly legal, without actually citing how.
He then asked me if I had a medical marijuana card. I responded that I do have a caregiver card in the state of Oregon, but my possession of marijuana in the state of Colorado requires no such card. I then explained how the stash box was an opaque, sealed item and wondered under what legal authority did Denver police open my stash box in order to seize something that is not contraband? The box size is so small there is no way I could have had more than an ounce in it; besides, they could have just weighed the box and even with the box weight, it wouldn't have been over an ounce.
Officer Stevens again wouldn't go into specifics, again saying what they did was legal and standard procedure. I then asked if I had left a bottle of Oxycontin for which I had a prescription, would TSA have kept the empty bottle and forced me to visit the Denver police in person to pick up my lawful medicine? He replied no, and, sensing the trap I was laying, hurriedly wrapped up the conversation.
It's not that I need the weed - I have plenty of that. I'm also thankful to get the stash box back - it has sentimental value. But I'm a little freaked out that Denver police think they can open up sealed opaque containers and take the weed out of them when that isn't contraband and there's no probable cause for a search and seizure.
They haven't heard the last of me...