Two months after a judge ordered Tacoma to return medical marijuana seized during a traffic stop, Joseph Robertson is still waiting to get it back.
That prompted the Tacoma man and his attorney to return to court Thursday to ask Tacoma Municipal Judge Jack Emery to repeat his order requiring that 40 grams of pot be returned to Robertson.
“If anybody else was doing this, they’d be in jail. If the shoe was on the other foot, I’d be in jail,” said Robertson.
Judge Emery ruled for a second time that the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office, which controls the evidence room used by Tacoma Police, must hand the pot over to Robertson.
Robertson was stopped for speeding by a Tacoma Police officer in May 2012. The officer found three small baggies of marijuana in Robertson’s car.
In court, Robertson argued that he is a designated provider for a medical marijuana patient and legally allowed to carry amounts of marijuana under 24 ounces. The judge agreed he was lawfully carrying the pot and ordered the city to give it back.
Robertson made several trips to the evidence room, with the judge’s order in hand, but the evidence room refused to release the pot.
Robertson’s attorney thinks city and county authorities are acting as if they are bigger than the judge’s lawful order.
“They thumbed their nose,” said attorney Jay Berneburg. “They said, ‘We are not only going to intentionally disobey it, we’re going to completely disregard it.’ They didn’t do anything.”
A Pierce County Sheriff’s spokesperson says the department wants to follow the judge’s order, but is worried about the consequences of handing marijuana over to a citizen.
Under federal law, possession of marijuana is still a crime.
The sheriff’s department said it will turn the pot over to Tacoma Police to let that department decide how to return it to Robertson.