New Bill: Police Must Return Seized Marijuana or Pay Compensation

During a marijuana raid, officers will confiscate drugs and other paraphernalia. Sometimes this evidence will be kept and used in court, but what happens to the drugs, cash and other property after trial? What happens if the defendant is never charged or is acquitted? According to reports, a new California bill that is under consideration that would require state law enforcement agencies who file any charges against marijuana users to return any confiscated drugs or paraphernalia in the event of an acquittal or if the charges are dropped.

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In addition to requiring agencies to return drugs, the bill would also ensure that police store the drugs as evidence until the case is firmly resolved. The new bill would protect the rights of users as well as ensure that any seized drugs are properly handled while in police custody. This could also prevent potential abuses and misconduct by law enforcement officials. Our Los Angeles marijuana legalization attorneys are dedicated to protecting the rights of marijuana growers, distributors and users. We are committed to providing strategic representation and staying abreast of legal developments and potential legislation that could impact the rights of our clients.

In the event of an arrest and confiscation of marijuana, law enforcement is required to keep up to 10 pounds. The new legislation would reduce the requirement to two pounds and five samples. According to reports, many officers are in favor of the bill to reduce the amount of marijuana that must be kept through court proceedings. Police departments and other law enforcement agencies admit that storing and preserving large qualities of marijuana can be problematic and expensive. The agencies report that the 10 pound burden can strain agency resources, requiring investments in storage space and maintenance, especially for departments in North California.

Under the new bill, defendants would be able to inspect the property before it is destroyed and give the defendant reasonable compensation in the event that the marijuana or paraphernalia is destroyed before charges are dropped or before an acquittal. This gives defendants significantly more rights to protect their property and to recover compensation in the event that their rightful property is destroyed.

The destruction of property issues has created civil penalties for police departments statewide. One woman was able to collect $20,000 from a police department in San Louis Obispo after her medical marijuana was destroyed. The bill has a wide network of support on both sides, as police departments can benefit from reduced storage mandates and defendants maintain a right to their confiscated property. The law also clearly defines the rights and obligations of defendants and law enforcement agencies to prevent disputes.

The bill has already been approved by the Senate Public Safety Committee and is expected to go to the Senate for a vote. According to advocates, the bill helps to direct law enforcement agencies while securing the rights of individuals, especially those who have a legal right to possess and use medical marijuana. The legislation is seen as a rarity where both law enforcement and medical marijuana users can both get on board.

The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.

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