Newsbrief: Hawaii Medical Marijuana Arrests Settled With $30,000 Pay-Out 12/10/04

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http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/366 /bigisland.shtml

Medical marijuana really is legal in Hawaii, and police on the Big Island have found that out the hard way. The Hawaii Advertiser reported December 1 that Hawaii County paid out $30,000 to medical marijuana patients John and Rhonda Robison to settle a wrongful arrest lawsuit.

The pair and a houseguest, Kealoha Wells, were arrested in July 2002 after police found marijuana growing in a greenhouse at their Kailua, Kona, home. But all three were registered medical marijuana cardholders in compliance with state law. Police seized 20 pot plants, but state law allows each patient to have up to seven plants. Police also seized an ounce of marijuana, also well within the legal limits.

After arresting the trio, police then released them without charges and returned the dried marijuana, but not the plants, saying there was a dispute over whether they were "mature." Under Hawaii law, patients can have three mature plants and four seedlings.

Rather than fight the wrongful arrest lawsuit, Hawaii County settled. After a judge okayed the settlement, the Robisons received the $30,000 check on November 29. (Wells had dropped out of the case, saying it only added to the stress of dealing with her cancer.)

The Hawaii County police have, one hopes, learned a rather expensive lesson. The Robisons continue to grow and use medical marijuana, but the police are now leaving them alone. "We have not had any problems," said Rhonda Robison.

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Issue #366 , 12/10/04

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