Maine Police Support State Law, Return Patient’s Medicine
A medical marijuana grower in Ellsworth, Maine received a pleasant surprise on Saturday: a marijuana delivery from the police. Thomas Davis, a state-licensed medical marijuana caregiver and grower, lost 17 marijuana plants from his greenhouse in a burglary on Wednesday night. The thief, 32-year-old Aaron Pert, was arrested soon afterward and charged with offenses including marijuana possession, burglary, and theft. He confessed to breaking into the greenhouse and stealing the plants and led the police to the location where he had hidden the majority of the stash. However, the police delayed returning the marijuana to Davis for two days, concerned that they might be violating federal law, which makes all marijuana possession, cultivation, and distribution criminal offenses.
According to Ellsworth police lieutenant Harold Page, this was the first case in the state in which marijuana had been stolen from a licensed medical marijuana provider, so the police department consulted with the Maine DEA as well as the state’s attorney general as to whether they should return the plants. Ellsworth Police Chief John DeLeo stated on Monday that as far as he was concerned, returning the plants was legal.
The delay led to the majority of the marijuana being ruined by mold. Davis estimated that he lost about six months’ worth of the crop and could only salvage 15 percent of it, enough for one month. He mentioned other licensed marijuana providers who are considering giving him some of their own plants to make up for the loss, but said that otherwise, his patients might soon need to look elsewhere for their medicine.
Davis, however, sees an upside to the situation. He said thieves may have assumed that they could steal from legal medical marijuana growers with impunity, since theft of plants from illegal marijuana growing operations would certainly go unreported to the police. Hopefully, as Davis suggests, his case will serve as a precedent for both the police, who might not be so hesitant to return stolen marijuana in the future, and to potential thieves. “It’s not the Wild West out here,” he said. “I feel like most of what I’m salvaging is a chance to get this out to the public, to let people know they can’t target medical marijuana patients and growers. The police will protect us.”