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Court: Medical-marijuana law means police now have to take some extra steps before raiding suspected pot houses

The Supreme Judicial Court ruled today that the medical-marijuana law passed by voters in 2012 mean police can no longer bust into a house where they suspect pot is being grown without first proving to a judge the owner is not growing the stuff for medical reasons.

The law lets people with a doctor's note grow up to 60 days' worth of marijuana at a time, if they can prove they can't get to a licensed dispensary easily. The state does not yet have any open dispensaries - although one in Salem hopes to open this summer - and has yet to set up the required registration database for patients.

Ruling in the case of a Brewster man arrested after a raid on his house, the state's highest court said that because not all marijuana production is now illegal in the state, police have to do more than prove to a judge that marijuana seems to be growing in a particular place in order to get a search warrant:

Although as a general matter, marijuana cultivation is a crime ... the Commonwealth is incorrect that the act has not effected any change in the statutory and regulatory landscape relevant to establishing probable cause for a search targeting such cultivation. What [the referendum language) states is that nothing in the act "supersedes Massachusetts law prohibiting the . . . cultivation . . . of marijuana for nonmedical purposes" (emphasis added). Under the act, cultivation of marijuana is expressly permitted if a person or entity is properly registered to do so, and the cultivation does not exceed the amount necessary to yield a sixty-day supply of medical marijuana.

The court said it did not think this would put an undue burden on police, since they should soon have access to the electronic patient-registration system the state says it is setting up.

Because of the ruling, police can no longer use the marijuana seized in the raid against the man whose house they found it in.

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The Commonwealth contends that Kent's affidavit established probable cause for the search because, as the motion judge concluded, the affidavit provided probable cause to believe that the defendant was engaged in cultivating marijuana at the property, and in the Commonwealth's view all or any cultivation of marijuana remains illegal even under the act To the extent that the act permits a limited class of properly licensed or registered persons to grow marijuana, the argument continues, the existence of a license or registration is an affirmative defense for a defendant charged with unlawful cultivation to raise at trial – the Commonwealth is not obligated to disprove such a status in order to conduct a search at the outset of an investigation.

We disagree.

In other words "we didn't like this law, so we'll ignore it, harass people anyway, and potentially put a seriously ill person through an arrest and legal ordeal even if the law says they have a right to grow, because that isn't our problem".

Nice.

Excellent ruling, SJC!

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Why don't you blame the court? They are the ones who issued the warrant.

Of course we know why. You think you are smarter and better than cops.

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Where did I say anything about cops? Or anything about "the police"?

Answer: I didn't.

"The Commonwealth" is specifically named in the quote that I posted, and that includes the lower court judge and prosecutors. The reference makes it pretty clear that the SJC was "dope slapping" those entities, as it were.

You should get some muscle relaxant for those knee spasms. And your black eye.

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You put blame on people making the arrest.....when the people who actually issue the warrant would be the ones really effected by this don't you think?

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Are you saying that the police would have instigated a raid without a warrant? That they would have proceeded with a raid and an arrest if the court told them "no"?

Do tell.

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Here is a case where the police have probable cause that someone is growing marijuana in their house. The persons name and address goes on the warrant by the police. The judge looks at it and says ok, that's good enough for me, I'll issue the warrant. Instead of asking the police to check the state medical registry first to see if this person is on it, the judge simply signs it. The another judge/court says no, the person mat legally have the right to grow marijuana on his house, so the cops should have checked that's, and the judge should have never issued the warrant. The initial court told te police that they had enough probable cause to search the house, so why don't you blame them?

But you seem to want to put blame solely on those who make the arrest, which would be the police. The DA has nothing to do with the search warrant or the arrest, they only jump in after the man gets arraigned.

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Where do I specifically blame the police?

My point is that the attitude by THE COMMONWEALTH is that "oh, business as usual and they can just bring it up in court", without so much as acknowledging the traumatic - and potentially fatal - results of an arrest and legal debacle for somebody with a sufficiently major illness that they went to the trouble of getting a script and setting up a grow.

Sorry if you are obsessed with your little spin on my quoting the ACTUAL DECISION, but needless arrest and legal hassle IS THE END RESULT of the Commonwealth's attempt to ignore the law.

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Here is a case where the police have probable cause that someone is growing marijuana in their house.

Here is a case where the police have probable cause that someone has a TV set in the house.

The persons name and address goes on the warrant by the police. The judge looks at it and says ok, that's good enough for me, I'll issue the warrant. Instead of asking the police to check the state medical registry first to see if this person is on it, the judge simply signs it.

The judge looks at it and says, OK, that's good enough for me, I'll issue the warrant, instead of asking the police to provide some evidence that the TV is stolen rather than purchased by the homeowner.

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They rule on technical trial procedural errors, and judicial mistakes from lower courts.

In this case, they said that the judge screwed up by allowing the warrant without requiring the police to check if the defendant was actually breaking the law or not.

That's how it works.

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Let's start there. That's where you are wrong. If you are putting blame on the court and simply thought the lower court was the commonwealth, your wrong.

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Keep it up.

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That is a fact. You thought they were the same, and you even wrote so much. You were wrong. I know you never ever admit you are wrong, but you are here.

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He wouldn't have been arrested!!!! So how is that harassment?

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Officer, here's my permit.
(Rip.) What permit? Turn around and stop resisting.

I am happy for you that the cops on your planet would have paused to consider that perhaps the citizen they were about to bust in on had the right not be busted in on.

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Oh hahajahahahahahahahahaha.

If you believe that, I know of a bridge you can buy - for cheap!

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Blame should be put on the people who asked for the arrest as well as those that granted it.

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Arrest them all and let the courts sort it out.

Heh, and now the courts have sorted it out.

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Last thing I can do after smoking pot is take some extra steps.

LOL

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