Appellate Court Orders State to Return Marijuana Improperly Seized
Yuma County Sheriffs arrested Valerie Okun when the stopped her vehicle and found marijuana in her vehicle. Incident to the arrest the Sheriff’s department seized the marijuana; however, after arrest Mrs. Okun provided law enforcement with a copy of her Arizona Medical Marijuana card. The State then dropped the charges as she her possession of the marijuana was within the statutory limits.
Mrs. Okun then asked the State to return the seized marijuana, the State refused. Mrs. Okun then sought a Court order to have the State return the marijuana. The Yuma County Superior Court granted the petition, the State appealed. The State’s basis of the appeal was two fold: (1) that Arizona law requires the forfeiture of any marijuana seized by law enforcement and (2) that the Sheriff could not return the marijuana without violating the Federal Controlled Substance Act.
The Appellate Court upheld the Superior Court’s order holding ” Because Arizona law allows Okun to possess the marijuana, it is not subject to forfeiture under state law. Moreover, the Sheriff is immune from prosecution under the federal law for acts taken in compliance with a court order.”
The Court’s holding is consistent with other State Courts’ holdings regarding the Arizona Medical Marijuana law. As the Governor and the State Legislature continually try and circumvent the voter’s intent, our Judicial system is upholding the rule of law.