House Panel Approves Marijuana Destruction Measure

Mar 8, 2013

A House panel voted this week to let police destroy marijuana they've seized even if it turns out the person had a right to possess it. Arizona Public Radio's Howard Fischer reports.

The legislation would overturn a Court of Appeals ruling ordering the Yuma County Sheriff to give back drugs taken from a California woman who is a medical marijuana user. The deputies said they feared being prosecuted under federal law despite voter approval here of a medical marijuana law.

But Mel McDonald, the former U.S. Attorney for Arizona, called that "utter nonsense." He said, "the Department of Justice has more issues on their plate than to worry about a deputy sheriff turning back to a lady marijuana that never should have been seized in the first place."

McDonald is more than an idle bystander. He told lawmakers of the seizures of his stepson who suffered a traumatic brain injury in a 1997 accident and eventually had to have part of his brain removed. McDonald said marijuana is the only thing that relieves the nausea and allows him to eat. And he lashed out at those trying to change the law. McDonald said, "it is nothing more than prosecutors trying to create another exception to allow them to do what the voters of the state of Arizona clearly said you can't do. People with medical marijuana, that is their ability to live."

Despite that the Judiciary Committee approved the measure on a 5-3 vote, sending it to the full House.