Hawaii County settles
in wrongful drug arrest

KAILUA-KONA » Two Kona medical marijuana users have received $30,000 from Hawaii County in a settlement of their lawsuit for wrongful arrest.

Jack Schweigert, attorney for Rhonda and John Robison, received a check yesterday following court and County Council approval of the settlement, Rhonda Robison said.

The Robisons, along with their house guest, Kealoha Wells, were arrested July 8, 2002, at their home after they showed police a small greenhouse where they grew marijuana.

John Robison uses marijuana as follow-up treatment for leukemia. Rhonda Robison uses it for a form of muscular dystrophy. Wells used it while under treatment for leukemia but stopped now that the disease is in remission, she said.

State law allows people such as the Robisons and Wells with state medical marijuana cards to have three mature and four immature marijuana plants each, plus three ounces of dried marijuana each.

During the arrest, police seized 20 plants, one less than the Robisons and Wells were allowed in total, and 1 1/2 ounces of dried marijuana, 7 1/2 ounces less than they were allowed in total.

Police told them they had to have individuals plants labeled as to their owner, and plants belonging to different owners should be in different places.

"There is no such law," Rhonda Robison said yesterday. "Know the law before you come and get someone" should be standard police practice, she said.

The three arrestees were released without charges after eight hours. Police returned their dried marijuana to them but refused to return the plants because of disagreement about when a plant is mature.

The Robisons and others say a plant is mature when it has buds on it. Police consider any large plant to be mature.

Wells originally joined the Robisons in the lawsuit but dropped out because she felt it was causing added stress, which she did not want while fighting cancer.

The Robisons continue to grow and use medical marijuana, Rhonda Robison said. "We have not had any problems" since the arrest, she said.



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