***Commentary*** Medical Marijuana Registration Is Essentially An Invitation For Police To Stop By Your Hale


Sarah Biddix (L) and William Peters.  Photo By William Ing, Hawaii Tribune-Herald

Sarah Biddix (L) and William Peters. Photo By William Ing, Hawaii Tribune-Herald

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. 

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 home on Monday, March 30, 2009.  

“They’re making us out to be criminals when we’re not,” Sarah Biddix told John Burnett. The couple attends Hawaii Community College.  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.  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.  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, “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.  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.  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.  But the fact is, marijuana is still considered a Schedule 1 drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA).  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.  People should look into their own medicine cabinets before they judge.  Reserve judgments and “stink eye” for true criminals, like those convicted of a crime and truly dangerous drug users like Ice Heads, child molesters, and murderers.  

Personally, I have a lot of compassion for the couple.  I don’t know them, but we have read these sort of stories on occasion.  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.  Obviously, starters, or cuttings, or whatever you want to call them, are plants.  Don’t you have cuttings with the intention of having them grow?  Sorry, I don’t buy that one.  Got to come up with a new defense.

It’s unfortunate that we have such an out-of-whack criminal justice system.  Reading these people’s stories, you can tell they’re not criminals at all.  Yes, they allegedly — let’s not forget that word, allegedly — had 106 starters, or cuttings, or whatever, but they shouldn’t be in jail for that.  It would be a waste of space for them to be there.  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.

13 replies
  1. anon
    anon says:

    Please will someone offer up a benign explanation for why they would (allegedly) have 106 clone plants, 10 times what is permissible by law?

    Aren’t clones just baby ‘weed’ plants? Can’t they count?

    A foolish move that a mother should not have gotten involved in. I feel sorry for her kids during all this.

  2. damon
    damon says:

    The “List” of Registered Medicinal Users needs to be removed from the responsibilities of the Department of Public Safety… and moved to the Department of Public Health.

    If this is a Medical Issue… then why doesn’t the Department of Public Health Issue the cards and hold the names on the list? (And for that matter, keep the information private as all other Medical Records are)

    Giving the Department of Public Safety (which oversees the Police Department) the list of names of people who may grow medicinally is like having the Fox watch the Hen House.

  3. Brian Jordan
    Brian Jordan says:

    These aren’t may not have been cops in many cases they are peole who know you have a permit . They dress like DEA and rip you of. Second, If you are dumb enough to trust the government oh well. Tr and call Nancy Pelosi Speaker of the House you’ll get put on an answering machine for your comment. The Government no longer cares GET IT! Disabled VETS can tell you about what the governments word is worth

  4. Kim Jordan
    Kim Jordan says:

    I”ve always questioned the idea of announcing to Law enforcement that you grow and/or smoke pot. If you are going to grow only the amount allowed with the certificate, sure, let them drop by to count your plants. But really, I don’t think many people actually follow that requirement.
    As for the “Medical” part of this …. when I was diagnoised with cancer 10+ years ago …. the last thing on my mind was filling out paperwork to get a license. And by the time I could’ve grown a plant …. I was pretty well past needing it.
    As for my thoughts on this case …. a dozen or so “clones” would’ve been one thing …. 106 is completely another. I understand both sides …. I am sorry for this couple … but it was 106. I hope they are given probation, not jail. I don’t think they are a danger to anyone. Except maybe the slow person behind the counter at a fast food restaurant!

  5. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    This is from the experience of someone who has gardened for decades growing tomatoes, peppers, melons and lots more annuals and perenials. A bit of cannabis has been in the garden, on and off, over that time. Many, many acres of tobacco also — acutally, especially tobacco!
    So, with cannabis, a minimum of 50% can be expected to be male — these are non marketable and not of the medicinal value as females. (50% of 106 is 53).
    With every type of seed I have ever planted, less than 100% germinate. For homegrown seeds, such as cannabis, tomato, and tobacco, many seeds that do germinate live but a few days or less, because they are weak (do not have enough energy stored in the seed to get a good start). While I have never done cloning myself, I do know enough about plants not to expect 100% survival. That makes less than 53.
    Did these people have lights among their “paraphenalia”? If not, no serious accusation of ‘commercial production’ of clones is rational.
    Was there a digital scales? Big amounts of money?

    These two people are just easy targets for vice officers and so-called ‘leaders’ in the PD who are too afraid to go after real criminals.

  6. James Weatherford
    James Weatherford says:

    last anon is from me
    (I am in Hamilton, NY for a son’s graduation from Colgatye Univ).

  7. molasses
    molasses says:

    The legal number of medical cannabis plants is far too low, considering males and plants that won’t make it.

    The idiocy of the whole thing is that growers should be getting subsidies from the government to grow the safest, most versatile natural medicine on earth. We are on the verge of decriminalization in many countries. Every poll now shows the majority favor legalization of cannabis.
    (yes, turns out the Portagees are smarter than the rest of us, local jokes aside!) decriminalized ALL drugs in 2001, with the result that teen drug use is down, other age groups are stable, and STDs have gone down. More people did switch to pot, finding it is safer than alcohol.

    Put that in in your pipe and smoke it!

  8. molasses
    molasses says:

    Oops, I left out the critical word- Portugal is the country that decriminalized in 2001, to their everlasting credit. Also, there was great protest from the conservative right there, that Portugal would become a drug vacation spot. It didn’t. Nothing bad happened. Only gangsterism decreased.

  9. Kim Jordan
    Kim Jordan says:

    James ….
    Since the 106 were CLONES, they would be all female (why would anyone clone a male pot plant?). Down in Kalapana, this article was a real conversation starter! I learned a lot on this topic! Like,You clone the best female plants. I have no idea how you would go about this, but I wonder if it works on Tomatoes or other vegetables?! I love my fresh vegies!

  10. James Weatherford
    James Weatherford says:

    You are right, of course.
    I realized so after shooting that one off too quickly.

    The point, of course, is that 106 pieces of propagating material simply does not equate to commercial production.

    I maintain that the police who go after a young couple such as this are chickens**ts! Lacking the guts to go after violent criminals and other in-fact dangers to the community.

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