Office of Citizen Complaints
Reference 97-949; Health and Safety Code § 11362.5
Subject: Medical Marijuana; Enforcement of Health and Safety Code § 11362.5
Recommendation: : The Office of Citizen Complaints recommends that the San Francisco Police Department
create written policy and protocols for handling, processing and return of medical marijuana possessed by detainees and arrested persons.
not seize cannabis club or similar identification cards without a valid need.
State Proposition 215 (commonly known as the "Medical Marijuana/Compassionate Use Act") was approved by voters in 1996. The statute's ambiguities have caused uncertainties in law enforcement, sometimes leaving qualified patients unprotected and or inconvenienced. Several law enforcement agencies have instituted written policies and procedures to identify and resolve local implementation issues. However, no Departmental policy or protocols interpreting the code's enforcement have been created in San Francisco. In September 1999, State Senate Bill 848, which would have clarified some of the statute's ambiguities, was placed in the legislature's inactive file. Also Governor Davis indicated that he would veto any similar bill. These actions indicate that further guidance from the state legislature is highly unlikely in the near future.
A search incident to complainant's arrest led to the confiscation of one marijuana cigarette that was booked as "evidence - medicinal marijuana. " Complainant was not charged with possession of contraband. The supervising officer informed complainant that the Department was obligated to categorize the medicine as evidence. Evidence is defined by the Department as "property (except narcotics) or money that is related or possibly related to a crime." Six weeks later, the Municipal Court of San Francisco acknowledged the physician's recommendation of medical marijuana for complainant's symptoms, and ordered the Department to return complainant's medical marijuana.
River Ginchild Abeje
Policy and Outreach Specialist
Mary C. Dunlap
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