Pot user cites police threats
Police search a home on the Big Island but make no arrests
KAILUA-KONA » A Big Island religious and medical marijuana user, the Rev. Dennis Shields, says he was "intimidated and terrorized" by police serving a search warrant for marijuana on his South Kona property Friday.
No arrests were made. Police Maj. John Dawrs said courts issue search warrants only when there is probably cause and the only way to see if there is evidence of a crime is to execute the warrant.
Arrested for marijuana in 1994, Shields argued freedom of religion, saying marijuana was a sacrament in his faith, called the Religion of Jesus. He was convicted on the grounds that marijuana was not required in his religion. Since then, his church made it a requirement.
Shields also holds a state-issued card verifying he is a medical marijuana user.
The Friday raid followed two recent police helicopter overflights of his property in which 24 marijuana plants were visible on his porch, Shields said.
Shields said his wife and two of his grown sons live on the property, and all four hold medical-marijuana cards. Since state law allows seven plants per card holder, up to 28 plants would be legal, he said.
When police arrived, they wanted to see the cards of other family members who weren't present, Shields said. He told them he had no copies of their cards because copying the cards is illegal.
Shields told police to call a state registry to verify card holders at the property. After apparently doing so outside his hearing, police left, he said. They should have checked before coming, he said.
They also made incorrect statements about the law, saying medical users can't have hashish, and each plant has to have an individual's name on it. Dawrs confirmed that hashish is allowed, and names are not required on plants.
In 2004, John and Rhonda Robison of South Kona received $30,000 in settlement of a wrongful-arrest lawsuit after officers arrested them for not having names on medical marijuana plants.