San Franicsco Cops Fume As Their Pot Case Wafts Away in Court

Discussion in 'Marijuana News' started by Phishhead, Apr 18, 2002.

  1. Ok as I don't agree with what these guys were doing. I think they should have got tickets for driving under the influence and for being stupid. Though it is a good thing that if you have medicial marijuana out here, you'll get your pot back. I have to say that the DA for SF is pro medical marijuana which is a good thing for cases involving medical marijuana.

    S.F. cops fume as their pot case wafts away in court

    Phillip Matier, Andrew Ross Wednesday, April 17, 2002

    Beat the rap, get your pot back -- on doctor's orders.

    In a move that has the cops spinning, a San Francisco judge -- without any objections from District Attorney Terence Hallinan's office -- has ordered police to give back the marijuana and hash oil they seized when they pulled over a couple of guys for allegedly tossing bottles around the streets in a drug- and alcohol-fueled ride through the city's west side.

    "And you wonder why things are the way they are out on the streets," said one officer close to the case.

    It all started when James Rivers, 23, and Babu Lal, 24, were pulled over after one of them allegedly threw a liter bottle at another car while they were driving along Geary Boulevard.

    According to the police report, the car reeked of booze and reefer. Rivers, who was behind the wheel, allegedly had "bloodshot eyes that were glazed" and eyelids "drooping to closing."

    Lal, who was in the passenger's seat, appeared to be "toasted," one of the officers said.

    From the get-go, officers said, Rivers was belligerent, refusing to cooperate with tests to measure his blood alcohol level.

    Lal, on the other hand, was passive -- his only move was to show officers the medical marijuana card he'd been issued by the city Health Department.

    The cops ignored the card, searched the car and found about an ounce and a half of weed in an M&M's bag and in a tin. They also found a vial of hash oil on the car's console.

    Rivers was charged with driving under the influence and with possession. Lal, who owned the car, was charged with possession.

    And then they got to the courtroom.

    In short order, Lal's attorney, Brian Petersen, moved to have the charges dismissed on the grounds that the drugs were for medicinal use.

    Faster than you can say "roll 'em," the district attorney agreed, and the possession charges were dismissed -- including the charges for possession of hash oil.

    Petersen then made a motion to have the drugs returned to Lal. When the D.A.

    didn't object, Judge Wallace Douglas signed the order.

    The cops, however, took one look at the judge's order and said, "No way." They've since asked for a rehearing on the matter, which has been scheduled for May 1.

    But from the looks of things, Hallinan doesn't feel there's any problem with the judge's order.

    "On the basic question of whether the police should return marijuana confiscated from a bona fide patient, I agree with the Oregon Court of Appeals (which recently ordered cops to return medical pot they seized from someone's home)," Hallinan said.

    But isn't toking up while driving a slightly different matter? "In this case, the patient's medicine could be returned to him, and the police could testify that he had it on him," Hallinan said.

    All this could have an interesting domino effect on the charges against Rivers, who is also accused of possession.

    As Rivers' lawyer, Clifford Gould, points out, if Lal gets his drugs back, then a good deal of the evidence against Rivers "goes up in smoke."

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