Medical marijuana complicating arrests

October 29th, 2011 by admin Leave a reply »

Posted: 12:00 AM

Medical marijuana complicating arrests

Jail administrators say treating marijuana like other personal property creates legal quandary

By David Hench
Staff Writer

Maine legalized the medical use of marijuana but it’s still contraband when crossing the secure perimeter of the state’s jails and prisons, and illegal in the eyes of the federal government.

Now, dealing with a person’s medical marijuana when they are arrested for another offense is posing a sticky legal issue for Maine law enforcement. Several sheriffs and jail administrators say they want no part of the problem and have left it in the hands of arresting officers.

“I’ve tried to insulate us. I’m not going to be the only one collecting medical marijuana,” said Cumberland County Sheriff Kevin Joyce, who oversees the state’s busiest jail.

Storing the marijuana in jail is problematic because jails lack secure evidence lockers. But jail officials are more worried about how they would return the marijuana to a released inmate without technically running afoul of federal laws that prohibit dispensing marijuana even if the state allows it.

Joyce recently informed the police chiefs in Cumberland County that the jail would not be accepting medical marijuana along with inmates’ other property, including medication that is transferred to the infirmary. “We’re going to give it back to the officer

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