By Seth Richardson
As if the debacle over bare breasts in bars weren’t enough proof that the Colorado Springs Police Department isn’t allocating public resources very well, now we have the example of Robert J. Corry, Jr. and his 8 ounces of medicinal marijuana.
Embarrassed and humiliated vice cops handed over Corry’s mason jars full of pot last Tuesday, after a judge ordered the return subsequent to the dropping of the narcotics case by the District Attorney.
Corry was arrested in December of 2008 after a traffic stop, and in spite of showing the cops his paperwork that makes it legal for him to possess pot under the 2000 state constitutional amendment permitting caregivers to possess small amounts of marijuana for legitimate medicinal purposes.
According to Corry, vice cops scoffed at his paperwork and at the law too, which resulted in Corry facing felony charges that hung over him until they were dismissed on October 5th.
The issue here is whether police had probable cause to arrest him in the first place. There seems to be some dispute over whether his paperwork was correct, but given the fact that the case was dismissed before trial, it’s pretty easy to conclude that Corry is the credible witness here, and that the vice cops are just covering their…dopey behavior.
It also appears that the seized marijuana was a little bit light upon return, some 40 grams. This “shrinkage” is attributed to sending some of the pot to a lab for testing. This should be pretty easy for the police to prove, since they are supposed to keep a detailed chain of custody. It’s probably a good idea to examine that chain to make sure there aren’t any missing links in it. And the police should pony up the per-gram value of the private property they seized in any event.
The blatant disregard for the law demonstrated by the Metro Vice, Narcotics and Intelligence Unit is just one more example of a police department that’s not allocating resources wisely, not to mention its inadequate supervision and negligent training.
Metro Vice needs some immediate classroom time and testing on the Constitution of the United States and the Colorado Constitution, with an emphasis on the requirements of police fidelity to both. If the Chief of Police isn’t willing to mandate such training and improve supervision, perhaps a federal court will do so pursuant to a federal civil rights violation complaint, which Mr. Corry really ought to consider.
For better or for worse, whether cops like it or not, the Colorado Constitution makes it legal for certified caregivers and patients to possess small amounts of medicinal marijuana. If the Colorado Springs Metro Vice, Narcotics and Intelligence Unit officers, or any other sworn officer in the department has a problem with being obedient to the will of the People, then they need to resign and take up another line of work.
For any police officer to deliberately and intentionally disobey the law and unlawfully arrest someone is utterly intolerable to a free society.
Here’s a bit of advice for the Metro Vice squad: A society will have precisely as much crime as it’s willing to tolerate, and it’s not your job to exceed your legal authority or violate your oath of office just because you think you know better than the People do what is best for them. Your duty is to protect and serve them within the express authority you have been granted by them, not try to rule them by abusing that authority.