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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

SPD Officers Search Medical Marijuana Group’s Office

posted by on July 16 at 12:46 PM

Medical marijuana is legal in Washington State. And marijuana possession for adult personal use is the lowest law-enforcement priority in Seattle. So why did Seattle Police Department officers seek and execute a search warrant last night on a medical-marijuana assistance organization?

That’s the question vexing Martin Martinez, who suffers from debilitating, intractable pain caused by cranial nerve damage in a motorcycle accident. In a small storefront on The Ave, he runs Lifevine Clinical Resources, which issues identification cards for medical-marijuana patients and finds legal defense for patients who are busted. “We are a very small handful of dying people. This is not a dispensary or buyers’ club,” he says. “We’re just trying to stay alive.”

At about 4 p.m. yesterday, two Seattle Police Department bicycle patrol officers went to the Lifevine office near NE 50th Street and University Way NE, Martinez says, claiming that one of them smelled marijuana. “[One officer] was certain there were live plants, so there I let him look because there were no plants,” says Martinez. “I was sure that he would go away.”

But the two cops then called in several more officers, and told Martinez that they were seeking a search warrant. The officers used tools in the office to take apart a wall to search for plants behind it, Martinez says.

After officers got the warrant and completed the search without making an arrest, Martinez returned to his office late last night. Police had seized his computer, 12 ounces of dried marijuana, and the medical records of 500 patients who had been issued ID cards. Lifevine issues the ID cards to patients who have authorization from physicians to use medical marijuana under the state’s Medical Use of Marijuana Act, passed in 1998.

“We have people’s entire medical records on file,” says Martinez. “They have no business being in the hands of the police department.”

Even though it appears SPD officers violated the medical-marijuana act, officers were technically abiding by the law. The statute only provides an affirmative defense after a defendant reaches a judge. However, officers also violated the voters’ intent of I-75, which makes investigating adult marijuana possession the city’s lowest law enforcement priority, by spending considerable resources investigating marijuana for personal use (the Department of Health recently proposed each patient could possess 24 ounces of marijuana, double the amount seized by police).

“Both law enforcement and Seattle residents would benefit from the Department publishing written guidelines on how its officers are to implement I-75’s mandate,” says Alison Holcomb, director of the Marijuana Education Project for the ACLU of Washington.

But neither the state nor city law prevents officers from searching medical marijuana patients, or seizing their property—even if the case would lose in court. So the search and seizure appears to be an opportunity seized by the SPD.

The Seattle Police Department and the King County Prosecutor’s Office haven’t yet return calls to comment. Stay tuned.

RSS icon Comments


So, uh, does the SPD have to pay to fix the wall?

Posted by Greg | July 16, 2008 1:05 PM

Oh, shitfuck. What is the deal with this?! If Crazy Kerlikowske and his anti-pot death brigade decide to execute search warrants on the 500 people listed in the now-missing Lifevine Clinical Resources database tonight? What then?

I was JUST SAYING that the reason that I don't trust the medicinal-marijuana-as-legal thing yet is because of

Posted by The Man | July 16, 2008 1:09 PM

Good job by the SPD to root out these hardened criminals. And no one even had to videotape them and put them on YouTube to get attention for it. ps how are the crackdowns on those open-air crack markets going, fellas? Oh, wait, nevermind. That might be dangerous. Oh, well, just keep going after debilitated sick people, they don't fight back as well.

Posted by P to the J | July 16, 2008 1:19 PM

This is such bullshit.

The cop "smelled" a live plant while cruising by on his bike? WTF? Sure, many people know what pot smoke smells like, but how many people could accurately identify the smell of a live pot plant more than a few inches away? The entire search is bullshit on its face.

And taking what is essentially medical records is even worse. If the police went into my doctor's office and seized all their medical records (including mine), there would be hell to pay. Why is this any different?

Posted by Reverse Polarity | July 16, 2008 1:25 PM

So the cops entered the office because they smelled marijuana ON THE AVE, as if that is something remarkable or even remotely out of the ordinary??? Jesus Christ, was it their first day or something? Fucking SPD, making a shit mess of our neighborhoods as usual.

Posted by Hernandez | July 16, 2008 1:26 PM

I can't believe that a judge would uphold a warrant like this.

Posted by Greg | July 16, 2008 1:44 PM

see also: TrueCrypt free, open source, on-the-fly, whole-disk encryption for Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows (note: TrueCrypt provides plausible deniability)

Posted by hyperlinker | July 16, 2008 1:54 PM


Posted by Chris | July 16, 2008 2:16 PM




Posted by NaFun | July 16, 2008 2:21 PM

Call me paranoid, but I'm totally picturing two DEA agents, sitting in their unmarked van across the street watch it all go down, all "oh shit, what the fuck are these bike cops doing?".

Posted by Dougsf | July 16, 2008 2:26 PM

FYI, KUOW did an interview with him on the noon show.

Posted by I Heart The Mary-Juh-Wanna! | July 16, 2008 2:28 PM

Why are they doing this when people are tossing litter on the streets?

Seriously, I thought such things were supposed to be their LOWEST PRIORITY.

I've got graffiti on the mural on Bridgeway North, trash on the sidewalk in my block - and they ignore those real crimes to hit a medical MJ clinic?


Posted by Will in Seattle | July 16, 2008 2:32 PM

Chris #8: These people are cops -- of course this is how they get their high. Watcha gonna do? See you on

Posted by Colleen O'Neill | July 16, 2008 2:35 PM

I guess we have Dominic Holden and Martin Martinez to thank for "protecting us" with I-75 and SB6032. I remember both of them telling everyone how much "safer" we patients were all going to be.

It's funny how some people are so upset when Martin's place is searched and property confiscated when so few are equally concerned when it's happening to me or other patients.

I suggest that Martin contact his "good friends" at the ACLU, Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles and the governor...who just screwed us patients into the ground with SB6032. Where are your "friends" when you need them, Martin?

Martin won't be can count on that. Other patients, however, WILL be charged under the new limits imposed on us by Dominic and Martin. I hope everyone is equally outraged when that happens.

Posted by Steve Sarich | July 16, 2008 2:49 PM

Hey Steve, when you're done ranting at the aether, care to tell us how 24oz, 6 mature plants AND 18 veg plants is screwing patients into the ground, or how patients who need more than that still don't have their affirmative defense?

God you're a douche.

Posted by NaFun | July 16, 2008 4:31 PM

Alcohol, over 100,000 dead last year. Marijuana, 0. What's the deal, how long does this nonsense go on, especially for people it is really helping cope with painful times. Hard to believe most these cops think they are Christians. Brainless sheep is all they are.

Posted by K Deeder | July 16, 2008 5:07 PM

next we'll be reading the stories of searches, seizures & arrests of the 500 patients who had their medical files stolen by the police department.

our city's officers are out of control.

Posted by concerned citizen | July 16, 2008 5:41 PM

I wish the fuck pot was legal, so then the cops could get high as fuck....... Holy shit they would be eating Skittles, Reeses Pieces and Double Whoppers.... Munchies Baby, Munchies.....

Posted by Seattle Sheeple Herder | July 16, 2008 7:43 PM

Hiatt and Steinborn = bust.
They have made a career out of representing pot clubs and creating a wreck.How much money do you figure they make representing these poor patients that they helped get busted with the SAFE patient ID scam.
From Jon Graves to Sarich to Martinez.
Hiatt and Steinborn are on the scene ready to grab a headline and a retainer at the same time..

Posted by Publicbulldog | July 16, 2008 10:28 PM

POT CLUB WARNING Attention all Washington State medical marijuana patients. Do not join a pot club of any kind. Under no circumstances should you mail in your medical marijuana authorization,and contact information to anyone. When you get an doctors authorization make sure it is from a doctor that has not had his patient records handed over to law enforcement without court orders. Any doctor that has had his records seized without a follow up HIPPA act violation investigation should be avoided. Keep to yourself!,Law enforcement does not have any way to identify you. When you join a pot club it gives law enforcement a chance to round up your contact information. When you join a pot club that distributes marijuana in any form you may be subjected to a Rico act or conspiracy investigation. To date hundreds of medical marijuana patients have been rounded up like bowling pins and identified by law enforcement and fed into the cogs and wheels of the marijuana enforcement industry,simply by joining pot clubs. one clinic is safe,your records will not be turned over to law enforcement,they have won a legal battle that prevented patient records to be given to law enforcement. I went somewhere else,and I paid the price for it. My medical records where seized,law enforcement used my seized medical records to try a knock and talk,and eventually convinced a judge that I was responsible for the pot clubs plants to get a search warrant when I refused to let them in. Avoid any pot club that has an attorney with a pony tail. The one common link between pot clubs and identifying hundreds of medical marijuana patients is a pony tailed attorney. He represents pot clubs all over Washington State. He is chasing pot cases thru the pot clubs. WASHINGTON STATE MEDICAL MARIJUANA PATIENTS KEEP TO YOURSELF.
Comment by John Worthington on Oct 6th, 2007, 09:17 am

Posted by Publicbulldog | July 16, 2008 10:49 PM

LifeVine Clinical Resources provides a necessary service that most are unwilling to provide.

The SPD is supposed to protect and serve - who may I ask are they protecting or serving by wasting resources on some anonymous dingbat who claims to be allergic to pot smoke and thinks crippled folks are coming to get her? ( )

Who is the SPD protecting or serving by prying medication out of the hands of seriously ill folks?

Rhetorical questions, unfortunately we all know the answers.

It's a sad day when the police stop following the law.

Posted by Ric | July 17, 2008 7:07 AM

NaFun Wrote:
"Hey Steve, when you're done ranting at the aether, care to tell us how 24oz, 6 mature plants AND 18 veg plants is screwing patients into the ground, or how patients who need more than that still don't have their affirmative defense?

God you're a douche."

I think I can probably answer you without calling you a single childish name in the process.

First, let's start with the most bogus part of the new pending law. The definition of an "immature" plant. There is no human way on earth to keep a plant in veg cycle for two months and keep it at 12" or less. I guess you could just stop watering them, but that would have it's own consequences.

So the only way this could possibly work is to take one of those 6 "mature" plants and turn it into a mother. When you were 3 to four weeks from harvesting you'd cut your six new clones and get them ready for your next flower cycle. Of course you'll only need six (with a couple of backups...just in case) wouldn't need 18 of them.

This means you can only grow one strain since you'll only have one mother plant. It also means that you'll only be able to flower 5 plants at a time.

Let's now assume that we're all master gardeners, even though we all know better. Let's then assume that you'll have to veg your plants for at least two months (60 days) to get them large enough to flower. Then you'll spend another 60 days (that's 120 days total) to bring in your first harvest.

Since we've assumed that you're a master in the bud room, and NOTHING goes wrong with your garden (like mites, fungus gnats, rust, powdery mildew), and you are able to get four ounces per plant. If I'm getting four ounces a plant I'm very pleased with myself. Seriously ill patients are not likely to reach four ounces per plant...or anything even close to that.

That would give you a total of 20 ounces for 120 days. That makes your 60 day supply only 10 ounces. To get your 24 ounces for 60 days you'll have to net 9.6 ounces per plant. That's well over 1/2 pound per plant from plants that were only vegged for two months! If any of you think you can do this, indoors, please let me know...I want lessons!

This is nothing short of entrapment by estoppel. They will entrap patients by setting up a limit that will never provide them with enough medicine to get by and then they'll bust them when they go over that limit. 24 ounces doesn't sound that bad until you figure out that there's no way to get there with the plant count they're trying to stick us with.

We predicted that this would be the exact outcome from SB6032...I can look up the newpaper quotes for you, NaFun. This was nothing more than a way for Gregoire's buddies in law enforcement to get the plant count law they've been pushing for since the law was passed. They offered us one law and switched it for another. Then, when they didn't like what the DOH came up with based on the science, they simply changed the rules to come up with the desired result.

If that's not getting screwed, perhaps you can explain this to all of us. You can be absolutely positive of one thing...patients will be going to jail thanks to this new law. No one in their right mind would now say that this law will "make patients safer"...or that this is a "baby step in the right direction". This was a giant step backward for patients and a gigantic step forward for LEO.

As to your question about the "affirmative defense", you're wrong about that too...and that's the big problem. If you wake up one morning and find that you're 12" plants are now 12.5", you've just lost your affirmative defense. You only have an affirmative defense if you're within the new limits. If you have one twelve inch plant that's showing signs of pre-flower and a cop thinks it's flowering...there goes your affirmative defense. Like I said...patients will be going to jail.

I hope that answers your questions on why SB6032 was the worst thing to happen to medical marijuana patients since the bill was passed. Be sure and send a thank you note to the ACLU that pushed for these new limits.

Steve Sarich

Posted by Steve Sarich | July 17, 2008 7:08 AM

Steve Sarich
Thank you for that informative explaination of the new law's restrictions. I imagine you are still damaged by the raid on your own office. Mostly, thank you for not resorting to childish name calling. The last thing I want is for us to be a movement devided against itself
See you at Hempfest

Posted by Steve Phun | July 17, 2008 12:43 PM

I wonder if this Judge typically signs off on search warrants based on such scant evidence? A POSSIBLE smell, that's it?

That's scary.

Thank God the Supreme Court just decided that smell alone was not sufficient cause to arrest everybody in a car that wreaked of marijuana smoke.

Evidently, this bicycle cop's sense of smell was not as well-honed as he thought it was. Hopefully, this Judge won't continue to sign such reckless and baseless warrants.

Posted by KeenSenseofSmell | July 20, 2008 9:44 PM

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