I truly feel for people like William Peters, 21, and Sarah Biddix, 22, the Kea’au couple who are medical marijuana patients and now accused of commercial promotion of marijuana. John Burnett wrote about them for the Hawaii Tribune-Herald today, Thursday, May 14, 2009.Â
Police say, upon serving a warrant at their home at 16-1414 40th Avenue in Orchidland Estates, they found two “potted mature marijuana plants,” five “marijuana seedlings” and 106 “marijuana starters,” or “clones.”
The Kea’au couple maintains they were within the medical marijuana law, that the “cuttings,” or starters, aren’t technically plants; police maintain the cuttings are plants. The couple was arrested along with 23-year-old Jason Walther, of Kea’au, when police discovered the plants at their homeÂ on Monday, March 30, 2009. Â
“They’re making us out to be criminals when we’re not,” Sarah Biddix told John Burnett. The couple attends Hawaii Community College. Â Sarah Biddix has a medical marijuana certificate signed by Dr. James Berg, of Hawi, and William Peters is apparently in the process of getting his certificate. Â He showed John Burnett a letter from Dr. James Berg stating so.
“We were within the limits of the medical marijuana law,” William Peters asserted to John Burnett. The law allows registered patients “three mature plants, four immature plants and one usable ounce of marijuana per mature plant.”
The story is very interesting. Â At one point, 52-year-old Mike Ruggles, a friend who was with the couple when John Burnett interviewed them, charged that police did not ask William Peters or Sarah Biddix if they were medical marijuana patients when the warrant was served.
When John Burnett asked him about that, Police Capt. Steven Guillermo said,Â “I cannot comment on that, but what was presented to the judge when we went for the search warrant, the judge agreed there was enough probable cause to go ahead and issue a search warrant. (The judge) reviews the affidavit which lists all the evidence for probable cause.
“If, for example, they had one plant outside, and they were registered, obviously, that does not meet our probable cause requirements. As part of the requirements for any potential search warrants for marijuana, a check has to be done to verify if somebody is registered, first of all, and if they are, what address it’s at.”
The last line of John Burnett’s story is a quote from Sarah Biddix about the “Peaceful Sky Initiative” that was on the ballot in the last General Election making marijuana the lowest law enforcement priority.
I feel sorry for people like this, I really do. Â It’s like they chose door #2 and that was really a trap door leading them into a downward spiral into the criminal justice system. Â I believe that if you seek out a medical marijuana certificate and register with the Department of Public Safety, you are basically giving police an invitation to come visit your house.
A majority of Hawaii County voters might have opted for marijuana to be the lowest law enforcement priority, with the Peaceful Sky Initiative. Â But the fact is, marijuana is still considered a Schedule 1 drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Â As ludicrous as it may sound, the law of the land reads that marijuana is to be considered as dangerous as cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, and LSD. At the end of the day, the federal government supersedes the state and county governments.
Sarah Biddix and William Peters, before they’ve even had their day in court, feel ostracized by the community for what they believe to be the publicity about their case. They maintain they have been denied the rental of a home and Sarah Biddix an internship because of the publicity. If that is the truth, that is a shame. Â People should look into their own medicine cabinets before they judge. Â Reserve judgments and “stink eye” for true criminals, like those convicted of a crime andÂ truly dangerous drug users like Ice Heads, child molesters, and murderers. Â
Personally, I have a lot of compassion for the couple. Â I don’t know them, but we have read these sort of stories on occasion. Â They are about the registered medical marijuana registrants who are testing the law by having more than the authorized amount of plants and dried marijuana. Â Obviously, starters, or cuttings, or whatever you want to call them, are plants. Â Don’t you have cuttings with the intention of having them grow? Â Sorry, I don’t buy that one. Â Got to come up with a new defense.
It’s unfortunate that we have such an out-of-whack criminal justice system. Â Reading these people’s stories, you can tell they’re not criminals at all. Â Yes, they allegedly â€” let’s not forget that word, allegedly â€” had 106 starters, or cuttings, or whatever, but they shouldn’t be in jail for that. Â It would be a waste of space for them to be there. Â The saddest part of this story, though, is if they are convicted of the felony charges they face, the couple just might have to go to jail.