Kimberly Yee, State Lawmaker, Wants to Give Cops the Right to Destroy Seized Medical Pot -- Even if Cops Seized it Illegally

Arizona police would have the right to destroy medical marijuana seized in investigations under a proposed law -- even if the police seizures were made improperly or illegally.

State Senator Kimberly Yee, R-Phoenix, hasn't actually introduced a bill yet at the State Capitol, apparently preferring to introduce her legislative ideas first in the Arizona Republic. An article this morning by Yvonne Wingett Sanchez describes Yee's intent to float the seizure-happy bill, plus another bill that intends to restrict the way dispensaries could advertise their products.

Republican lawmakers like Yee make Democrats look like Libertarians. Yee's proposals would apparently flush the First and Fourth Amendments down the crapper.

See also: New Medical-Marijuana Poll Shows High Support by Arizonans; Poll Done by Same Firm Used by Pot Foe John Kavanagh

We called Yee this morning at 8:15 a.m. to find out what she really intends to propose, and whether there are any exceptions for illegal or improper actions by police. Haven't heard back from her yet.

Yee seems to be upset at Arizona judges who put state law and the will of the people ahead of the police state she'd rather live under. Last month, the state Court of Appeals ordered the return of a few grams of medical-marijuana improperly seized by the Yuma County Sheriff's Office from California resident Valerie Okun during a U.S. Border Patrol drug-sniffing-dog checkpoint inspection. Yee would prefer that sort of thing doesn't happen again.

Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk, who famously stood up to the corruption of Maricopa Sheriff Joe Arpaio but takes a hard line on the marijuana debate, told the Republic she supports Yee's ideas:

"If law enforcement goes in, and there's 14 plants, and they pull out the plants... and the expectation is that they have to be returned, what's law enforcement to do?" Polk asked. "Plant the plants, water them and continue to cultivate them? The idea that law enforcement would be cultivating marijuana is an outrageous idea."

The problem is that Polk, who we've caught spreading disinformation previously on the pot issue, picked the number "14" here to avoid the kind of conundrum we're talking about.

The more salient question is what if law enforcement "goes in" and pulls up 12 plants for some reason, even if the registered patient is legally able to grow 12 plants? Whether the seizure was an accident or intentional, Yee's proposal would allow police to destroy the legal property.

Yet many police chiefs, sheriffs and county attorneys have openly rejected neutrality on the political issue of marijuana. They're frustrated they can't make the busts they're used to making. With a law like the one Yee's proposing, they can still get the satisfaction of seizing a patient's property, even when the desire to jail and fine the patient is thwarted by state law.

The other proposal, according to Sanchez's article, aims to have the licenses yanked for dispensaries "that package or advertise the drug in a way that states, suggests or implies it's for a use other than medicinal purposes allowed." Again, that's not the bill's language -- we haven't seen a bill yet -- but is how Yee's proposal was described in the news article.

In our humble opinion, it seems reasonable to label pot-infused lollipops or other food items as such. If adults want to consume "medibles," that's fine -- but kids and adults who prefer unadulterated food items should be able to tell from the packaging what they're about to eat.

On the other hand, the terms "suggests or implies" are awfully vague and may threaten free speech rights. If a medical-pot brownie is labeled as such, but is also advertised or labelled as especially good-tasting and enjoyable to eat, does that "imply" a use for other than just medicinal purposes? And whose job would it be to figure out what's being suggested or implied?

We'll update this post if Yee calls back. Until we see a bill introduced, maybe we'll just assume Yee was kidding.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.