Kona police return
confiscated pakalolo

It had been taken from 3 approved
users of medical marijuana

By Rod Thompson

KAILUA-KONA >> Kona police have returned 1.5 ounces of marijuana to three state-approved medical marijuana users after confiscating the substance from them last week.

In a room at the main Kealakehe station yesterday, a police officer returned the marijuana belonging to John and Rhonda Robison and their house guest, Kea Wells.

But police say an investigation is continuing and charges are still possible.

Honolulu attorney Jack Schweigert, who represents the three, said this is the first instance in Hawaii of police returning marijuana to people.

"I'm happy for them," Schweigert said. "They were really sick."

The Rev. Dennis Shields, who is pastor for the three and whose ministry includes the use of marijuana, said he believes this is the first instance in the nation of police returning marijuana to people.

Wells is under treatment for leukemia and recently received radiation and chemotherapy. Schweigert said she was vomiting repeatedly over the weekend because she lacked marijuana, which helps people tolerate chemotherapy.

John Robison was diagnosed with leukemia 10 years ago and attributes his long-term survival to anti-cancer properties of substances in marijuana. Rhonda Robison uses marijuana to treat pain from a form of muscular dystrophy.

All three have state medical marijuana certificates that allow them to have up to three mature and four immature marijuana plants each, plus one ounce of dried marijuana each.

Police searched their home July 8, seized their marijuana, arrested and held them for eight hours before releasing them without charges.

Vice Lt. Robert Hickcox said the dried marijuana was returned yesterday because the total seized by police, 1.5 ounces, was less than the total of 3 ounces that the three were allowed to have.

Hickcox said the decision to return the marijuana was made after police consulted with the Narcotics Enforcement Division of the state Department of Public Safety and the Hawaii County Prosecutor's Office.

Police also seized 20 plants, one fewer than the total of 21 the three were allowed to have, he said.

The plants were not returned because 11 were mature, but the three medical marijuana users are allowed to have no more than a total of nine mature plants, according to Hickcox.

Shields said he was at the Robison home the night before the police search and only one of the 20 plants was mature, as evidenced by the presence of flowers or buds on the plants.

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