Medical-Marijuana Patient: Gilbert Police Took Me to Jail

 

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In the latest sign that Gilbert police have gone rogue, a medical-marijuana patient tells New Times that he was taken to jail two nights ago for possessing a half-ounce of weed.

 

This is the third case we've heard about in the past week in which Gilbert officers allegedly told patients that the voter-approved medical-marijuana law provides no meaningful protection.

Not only did the officers write up the man for possible possession charge -- he says they're accusing him of DUI because he admitted he'd smoked pot that morning. If true, that seems like one DUI case that'll never stick.

We're putting in a request for the police report today; we also left a message for Gilbert PD's spokesman, Sergeant Bill Balafas -- and yet another message for Police Chief Tim Dorn -- this morning.

gilbert police swat team.jpg
Image: Gilbert PD Web site
Knock, knock -- it's Gilbert police. We heard there's a marijuana patient with some weed in there...
On Sunday about midnight, Steven, who lives in Gilbert, tells us that he was pulled over near Val Vista and Baseline roads for failing to make a complete stop as he left a strip-mall lot. Steven, 22, asked us to just use his first name.

The bloodhound cop smelled the high-quality weed in the car and asked him about it. Steven 'fessed up right away, he says, and showed the officer his state-issued medical- marijuana-registration card.

Steven says he had about half an ounce of weed in four separate, labeled baggies.

"For a second, I thought I was going to be able to drive away," Steven says.

Instead, the officer called his supervisor, who soon arrived at the scene. They interrogated him about where he purchased the marijuana, saying if he couldn't provide the name and number of the person who sold it, he was going to be arrested.

He says the officers also told him that the pot wouldn't be legal unless he bought it in a dispensary, (there are none yet) or grew it himself. As to the latter option, however, Steven says the officers implied that even if he'd admitted to growing, he could still be in trouble because there's no legal way to obtain seeds.

Steven says he told the cops that the pot was given to him by a friend as a gift.

In our non-expert, non-lawyerly opinion, Arizona law seems clear when it states that if a valid card-holder possesses less than 2.5 ounces, a presumption exists of medical use.

Police booked Steven into jail and impounded his truck, but they didn't bother with his bong and pipe, which were still in the vehicle when he picked it up the next day.

"I paid $300 for that *@#&^$% card," Steven gripes.

Again, we still don't have the police side of this story and can't yet verify what Steven told us. But the bulk of the story makes sense in view of the other busts by Gilbert PD mentioned on this blog in the last few days.

On Thursday, we told you about the ludicrous case in which a full-on raid with masked and SWAT-trained officers entered a Gilbert home in search of -- gasp -- an ounce of weed. When the homeowner, Ross Taylor, presented his valid registration card, Gilbert police didn't seem to care. The East Valley Tribune published an article about the case on Friday with a couple of extra details.

This morning, we related another story in which Gilbert police drove across town to Tempe and raided a business in which qualified patients sell pot to other qualified patients.

Perhaps police are institutionalized and simply can't help busting marijuana suspects, despite the new law. It'll be interesting to see how prosecutors deal with these cases.

It's clear, though, that the tactics of Gilbert police aren't being used in other Valley cities.

Scottsdale's police spokesman, Sergeant Mark Clark, told us last week that if someone's caught with less than 2.5 ounces of weed and possesses a valid card, "the investigation stops there."

Sergeant Steve Martos of the Phoenix Police Department told us this morning that, "at worst," Phoenix officers might take a report if they find a cardholder in possession.

"If you're within the legal amount of whatever, you're good to go," he says. "There's no reason for us to do anything."

Booking a valid cardholder caught with less than 2.5 ounces "would be in direct violation of the law."

Yup, that's what we think, too. Gilbert PD apparently didn't get the memo.

That being said, we're still researching the situation and hope to talk to legal experts at the police departments over the next few days.

If you know any valid cardholders who were caught and busted, or caught and not busted, please drop us a line: ray.stern@newtimes.com.

UPDATE: Gilbert PD's spokesman, Bill Balafas, called back later and told us that the DUI was the "primary investigation" and the reason for the arrest in the case of Steven.

Reading from the report, we requested a copy of, Balafas tells us that the officers thought Steven might still be in the "euphoric" stage of a marijuana high judging by his "bloodshot, watery eyes" and other potential indicators of pot usage.

When asked when he last smoked, Steven first answered that it had been the day before, then changed his story, stating that it had been in the morning, Balafas says.

The spokesman, who's also trained in drug-recognition enforcement, claims that marijuana impairs drivers up to 24 hours after they use it.

Balafas says police also intend to seek a charge of marijuana possession on Steven, whose registration card was indeed valid. Steven told police he got the pot from a friend and wouldn't give up the source.

"So the question comes about -- how did he obtain this stuff?" Balafas asks rhetorically.

Yet Gilbert police won't say why that matters.

Gilbert Police Chief Tim Dorn refuses to answer questions about this or the other recent busts related to medical marijuana.

 

 

 


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52 comments
pvplacid
pvplacid

Sounds like the Gilbert cops get what Attorney General Horne meant when he said the part of the medical marijuana law allowing growing and selling is preempted. If the law is preempted as far as growing and selling, then anybody growing or selling marijuana can be prosecuted under existing Arizona law. So, the Gilbert cop asked Steven where he got it. If Steven says he grew it, then they can prosecute him for growing marijuana. If he says he bought it from someone else, then . . . . Like it or not, Gilbert's cops are smarter than the rest of Arizona cops. If you're counting on dumb cops, move to Phoenix.

1123
1123

Let's talk about the law, since no one has yet...

28-1381A1 - Driving while impaired to the slightest degree. It is illegal to drive while impaired to the slightest degree by drugs/alcohol, Marijuana (THC and its metabolites) included.  Having a medical marijuana card is no defense to the A1 charge.  In every jurisdiction in this state, you will/should be charged with DUI despite a medical marijuana card if the officer observes indications of impairment during contact.

 

28-1381A3 - Driving with Drugs in your system, Marijuana (THC and its metabolites) included. It is illegal to drive with any amount of a drug in your system.  The only defense is having a valid prescription for the drug at the time of driving.  Unfortunately for all the medial marijuana possessors, the legislature provided that doctors can recommend these cards.  It is NOT a prescription.  Therefore, possessing a medical marijuana card is also not a defense to this DUI charge.

 

So, why did the Gilbert officer arrest this defendant?  Because he was breaking the law.  He would/should be prosecuted in any jurisdiction in Arizona, because possessing the card simply is not a valid defense.

 

Feel free to smoke all day long...IF you have a valid med. marijuana card, IF you obtained the marijuana legally, and IF you are not driving.  

LOL@ Gilbert Police
LOL@ Gilbert Police

I was just pulled over in Gilbert this morning for speeding. I had smoked some pot last night but was far from under the influence. I drive an older car, which although doesn't smell particularly bad, has a heavy smell of old car. The first thing the officer asked when he walked up to my window was are you under the influence of pot and asked me to get out. The officer then asked to see my tongue and said because it is green that i just recently smoked pot. I was like WTF, marijuana doesn't make your tongue green, in all my years of smoking, not once has my tongue turned green after smoking. I told the officer it may have been the green tooth paste i used to brush my teeth. He told me that there was no way the toothpaste could cause my tongue to turn green so i responded, 'I guess since we know pot nor toothpaste cannot turn my tongue green, we both seem to be dumbfounded on how this happened. 

He then sat and tried to convince me for 10 mins that the chlorophyll in marijuana when smoked causes your tongue to turn green and that is one of the easiest signs that someone recently smoked pot.  First of all I'm trying to figure out how with a nice clean change of clothes, nothing on me, and after a good brushing of my teeth with mouthwash, he was able to smell what he called "a strong hint of marijuana coming from inside the car" over the smell of the car itself. I just thought it was hilarious how undereducated police are on the truths about marijuana and how they make up lies to try to get you to incriminate yourself. The craziest part is i just looked it up, and they actually teach the officers these lies.

Of course after all this bs, since I was in good ol' Gilbert, i got a speeding ticket after making me 25 mins late to work with a failed attempt to arrest me with a field sobriety test. How much fun is it to tell your boss that you were late to work because you were pulled over and given a field sobriety test. 3rd ticket i have ever gotten, all of which have been in Gilbert.

Trommy Themulus
Trommy Themulus

Bill Balafas is trying to singlehandedly through extreme arrogance, ignorance and a big old heaping helping of stupid, financially break the city of Gilbert.  Good luck with breaking the state law by arresting all of the people who are legal within the state and not being sued blind and losing your job.Tell me something jerk, what happens when they arrest you for negligence in performing your duty.  What happens when they sue you and your swat teams? You swore to uphold the laws of Arizona.  You are not a federal DEA thug.  You are a city of Gilbert/Arizona Thug.

Sgt_Stadenko
Sgt_Stadenko

Of course the Chief isn't saying anything, just like Kerlikowski, these drug warriors are behind the scenes trying to plan their exits from this abomination. Trying to save what dignity they might possibly after bullshytting the American people for 40 years about how they are protecting the "american way and family values".. Family values my ass, this drug war is responsible for decimating American families by locking our young men in cages. 

Remember "the bigger the bust, the bigger the boost"

Gerry_C
Gerry_C

It makes me wonder if Gilbert is trying to get a conviction so the law will be tested in the courts.  Sort of along the same lines as the Brewer and Horne attack.

Gerry_C
Gerry_C

So, will these cases be prosecuted by the county or the city prosecutor's offices?  Will a prosecutor step up and charge?

thomas vesely
thomas vesely

and then you get headlines like "cops getting shot !! " and "why are cop shootings on the increase !! "its down to cops as per this article.their fellow officers ought to ponder this.

Hock
Hock

There are plenty of people who have been arrested by Gilbert for DUI, who's blood results come back negative.  They are WEAK.  Fail.

synapse7
synapse7

even with the law,  the War On Drugs/Freedom continues...

malcolmkyle
malcolmkyle

If you are a Prohibitionist then you owe us answers to the following questions:

#1. Why do you rejoice at the fact that we have all been stripped of our 4th amendment rights and are now totally subordinate to a corporatized, despotic government with a heavily armed and corrupt, militarized police force whose often deadly intrusions into our homes and lives are condoned by an equally corrupt and spineless judiciary?

#2. Why do you wish to continue to spend $50 billion a year to prosecute and cage your fellow citizens for choosing drugs which are not more dangerous than those of which you yourself use and approve of such as alcohol and tobacco?

#3. Do you honestly expect the rest of us to look on passively while you waste another trillion dollars on this ruinously expensive garbage policy?

#4. Why are your waging war on your own family, friends and neighbors?

#5. Why are you so complacent with the fact that our once 'free & proud' nation now has the largest percentage of it's citizenry incarcerated than any other on the entire planet?

#6. Why are you helping to fuel a budget crisis to the point of closing hospitals, schools and libraries?

#7. Why do you rejoice at wasting precious resources on prohibition related undercover work while rapists and murderers walk free, while additionally, many cases involving murder and rape do not even get taken to trial because law enforcement priorities are subverted by your beloved failed and dangerous policy?

#8. Why are you such a supporter of the 'prison industrial complex' to the extent of endangering our own children?

#9. Will you graciously applaud, when due to your own incipient and authoritarian approach, even your own child is caged and raped?

* It is estimated that there are over 300,000 instances of prison rape a year.* 196,000 are estimated to happen to men in prison.* 123,000 are estimated to happen to men in county jail.* 40,000 are estimated to be committed against boys in either adult prisons or while in juvenile facilities or lock ups.* 5000 women are estimated to be raped in prison. 

http://www.loompanics.com/Arti...

#10. And will you also applaud when your own child, due to an unnecessary and counter productive felony conviction, can no longer find employment?

Private prisons are publicly traded and their stock value is tied to the number of inmates. Here's what the UK Economist Magazine thinks of the situation: "Never in the civilised world have so many been locked up for so little" http://www.economist.com/node/...

According to Paul Craig Roberts, a former editor of the Wall Street Journal and former assistant secretary to the treasury under Ronald Reagan, "Police in the US now rival criminals, and exceed terrorists as the greatest threat to the American public."

"Narcotics police are an enormous, corrupt international bureaucracy and now fund a coterie of researchers who provide them with ‘scientific support’, fanatics who distort the legitimate research of others. The anti-marijuana campaign is a cancerous tissue of lies, undermining law enforcement, aggravating the drug problem, depriving the sick of needed help, and suckering well-intentioned conservatives and countless frightened parents."  – William F. Buckley, Commentary in The National Review, April 29, 1983, p. 495

There is no conflict between liberty and safety. We will have both or neither.William Ramsey Clark (1927--)

Coz
Coz

Makes me wish I lived in Gilbert so I could get busted and sue the living shit out of Gilbert.

Guest23
Guest23

Why are other news organizations, azcentral/az republic, reporting on these situations? Is it that it doesn't fit their political agendas?

Duncan20903
Duncan20903

The cops are likely just used to Arizona's idiotic and unjust zero tolerance DUI-m law. Fortunately Prop 203 has carved out an exception for registered patients using medicinal cannabis. The poor cops are actually going to have to do some work and actually prove impairment.

Police spokesman Balafas must have a very strange understanding of the word "impaired" if he actually believes that drivers are actually impaired 24 hours later. He's full of malarkey.

Arizona authorities would be smart to learn the history of California's Compassionate Use Act (CUA) and the hundreds, if not thousands of Court actions where California local and State authorities got spanked by medicinal cannabis activists and sent to bed without dessert.  They might want to pay attention to just how expensive it can be to refuse to return a patient's wrongly seized cannabis.

You know what, a couple of weeks ago I thought up a compromise in zoning policies for dispensary locations which would kill the complaints. Forget the school free drug zones and all that stuff. Install the dispensaries next door, or preferably inside the local police station. I'll betcha that would minimize the number of patients who are malingering to gain the benefit of Prop 203. It's hardly likely that such a location would be a criminal magnet as the Know Nothings constantly include in their hysterical rhetoric.

Coz
Coz

Gilbert PD is sure racking up the future civil suits heading their way, guess the City of Gilbert just has to much money and needs to give it away.

Supadan27
Supadan27

This sends a bad message to the public about their cities police force.this shows the police force has a very blatant disrespect for state laws.who's stopping them from breaking other laws??those police are hired by the people for the people.i would consider this as a mild form of rebelism.We pay them! Why are they making their own rules?stop funding this corruption!!

Jason
Jason

Well well. It appears that the Gilbert PD has gone the way of the MCSO.

MCSO Captain Joel Fox, who lives in Gilbert, and Colten Pearce, one of Senator Pearce's sons, who works for Gilbert PD, have really learned well from the MCSO shurf and dear old Dad.

Chief Dorn must have ripped several pages out of the Flaccid Fool's 500 year old book on how to go about making nickel bag busts.

Why were Gilbert police allowed to invade Tempe, which has its own police force, and make seizures of weed? I can just smell the notices of claim against Gilbert for that one.

Thanks, Chief Dorn. You just cost this county's and your city's taxpayers alot of money. 

words
words

Excuse me Mr Balafas, but you can obtain it LEGALLY from another patient or caregiver right now.

READ THE LAW IF YOU'RE GOING TO ENFORCE IT YOU ASSHOLE.

J Curwen
J Curwen

Another thing: just because it's legal doesn't mean one shouldn't be discrete. Odor proof containers are not obsolete just because you got a card. Never count on cops to be reasonable. They may often be reasonable, but one would be a fool to count on it. Far better to avoid the problem in the first place than to have to deal with it in court later.

thomas vesely
thomas vesely

i bought the sheriff,and i bought the deputy.just a song.....on a more serious note;what's the revenue that is being protected??

Lazik11
Lazik11

I guess someone (Gilbert Police Chief Tim Dorn ) is vying for Sheriff Joe's "nickel bag" moniker.   

knowa1
knowa1

They are flaging it  the songs called no  knock rule   song by Lindy Google it.

Pit Boss
Pit Boss

"The spokesman, who's also trained in drug recognition enforcement, claims that marijuana impairs drivers up to 24 hours after they use it."

That is a blatant lie. The effects are gone after, at the very most, 6 hours depending on the quality of the marijuana and the size/fatness of the patient.

Here come the lawsuits. What is it with valley law enforcement and its insistence on ignoring local laws and enforcing its own idealogical ones?

Guest23
Guest23

Frightening. How were Gilbert PD allowed to go into Tempe and arrest cite/arrest people in another city? And why is the Gilbert police chief or the mayor of the city not making any statements in regards to these unlawful police actions. It would only seem fair that they let the residents of their city and other cities as well, since they are stepping out of city limits to make arrests, that the Gilbert PD interprets the law differently or in opposition to state law?

Lonnie_Kushking
Lonnie_Kushking

Isn't any alcohol that registers over BAC 0.00, driving impaired to slighted degree?

Oh that's right, they encourage you drink and drive responsibly until 0.08.

Drink til 0.0799 and drive, especially if you're a police officer!

Guest23
Guest23

I have to wonder what law they would prosecute under, unless they have some way to turn them over to the dea but obama has stated the feds won't prosecute medical marijuana patients. If anything Gilbert PD is breaking the law themselves... I hope they get hung out to dry for this crap.

Yourproductsucks
Yourproductsucks

Anything other than making money the honest way eh coz? Stupid criminal

Guest23
Guest23

That should be "not reporting?"

Mistalee
Mistalee

I rather doubt the Gilbert PD is doing this of their own initiative. Somebody higher up is likely calling the shots. The GPD PIO steps on his dick every time he tries to justify the action, and the police chief has gone into hiding on the issue. If this was their brainfart, they'd be bragging about it, believe me.

Duncan20903
Duncan20903

Now don't go jumping to conclusions where you might think that Arizona is "different." City of Garden Grove, California v Felix Kha 157 Cal. App. 4th 355; 68 Cal. Rptr. 3d 656 litigated the issue of whether or not Federal law prevents the local police from returning a patients medicine. Garden Grove fought it  all the way to the US Supreme Court before finally returning the man's property.http://iowamedicalmarijuana.or...

Arizona really should try to learn from California's mistakes as well as from their successes.  But it seems carved in stone that Arizona authorities are going to insist on re-inventing the wheel. When was the last time you heard complaints about the policies of the city of Oakland? The dispensary fiasco in L.A. received lots of attention from the media, but it was only the local throwaways that reported about Oakland's decision in 2010 to double the number of licensed medicinal cannabis vendors. The huge difference in the two cities' results was because Oakland proactively negotiated with the principals of the medicinal cannabis retail distribution chain in setting up the City's policies and did so in good faith. L.A.? The City Council stuck there collective heads in the sand for 3 years hoping that the situation would fix itself and they wouldn't have to deal with it. Every one of the dispensaries which were the object of so many complaints were opened in compliance with the rules promulgated by the Council. Had the Council's collective head not been buried things wouldn't have gotten so out of hand.

Cybercy
Cybercy

This is obviously a case of "those damn hippies ain't gonna smoke weed in Gilbert!"  (an echo from the '60s) Also, as I have stated elsewhere, it's not about cartels and kickback, but property revenue.  The patient that got raided was because they wanted to confiscate his home, car, boat, anything of value and resell it at auction for a 100% profit.  The kid above had to pay bail, impound fees, etc.  not to mention a retainer fee for the lawyers he is about to hire.  There's more than one way to make money off the "War on Drugs"!!!

Mistalee
Mistalee

Tort claim notices should be filed on each and every one of these, and quickly. And medical cannabis advocates should be scrambling to answer the question, "who benefits from this and who ordered it?"

I'd start with the Mayor's office.  Gilbert Mayor John Lewis apparently has a track record of enforcing his Mormon beliefs regarding recreational substances on the people of Gilbert - http://www.desertlivingtoday.c...

Pit Boss
Pit Boss

I don't think it's just revenue that's at stake, it's the ever-popular "family values" reputation they feel they need to constantly convey as they bust innocent people and ruin their lives with felony charges. It's a strong Mormon territory and those LDSers eat that family-values crap up.

The chief is probably just using the Arpaio mode of law enforcement: "Get the media to notice you at all costs." I have to assume this idiot is looking for a political seat in the future.

ExpertShot
ExpertShot

Kickbacks to the Gilbert PD by the drug cartels.  The drug kingpins (and the POPO getting the kickbacks) know that lax enforcement of the anti-drug laws will make their product less profitable.  The Gilbert PD, has been on the take for years - now they know their days of kickbacks for ignoring the drug shipments that travel through their jurisdiction are about over if they don't supress consumption of the healing hemp.

It's basic economics - if the enforcement of anti-drug laws in the United States were to cease today (regardless of whether the laws were repealed or the drugs dropped from the Schedule I status), the drug kingpin's profits would cease immediately.  There would not be enough money in the business to justify the costs associated with underground smuggling of these drugs. 

The more enforcement, the more people go to jail, the more money the cartels make because they can charge more and make more profits when the supply of any commodity is supressed by government action.  If our Boys in Blue would just get a little smarter, they'd decide tout suite to stop enforcement actions.  Poof - mexican pot would be harder to get than tiger penis.

B Crfl Trsting COPS
B Crfl Trsting COPS

That's another reason why i just dont TRUST them.....COPS are the real criminals...trust me, i have an............of an uncle who was with DPS for 30 years or more and i feel for everyone including his children that had to see him.....He would beat his daughter and use his LAW EBFORCEMENT POWER to get away with it....they did eventually get'em on something, but no jail time where he should have been.......Just an outright prick, like at least 98% of them

shadeaux14
shadeaux14

I wonder if the chief is as militant about the members of his dept. who, after duty, plop their asses on a bar stool and proceed to get shit faced every night, I used to tend bar at a place frequented by many St. Paul, Mn police and cops are the biggest lushes in town.

Mistalee
Mistalee

 They are. It takes time. The first story already looks to be going viral.

Coz
Coz

The Arizona Republic is always 3 steps behind in everything.

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