Fifteen years ago – originally reported March 30, 2001 in the Eureka Times-Standard – five years after Prop 215 was voted into California state law, Sheriff Dennis Lewis defied Superior Court Judge Bruce Watson’s order to return Chris Robert Giaque’s (of Garberville) medicinal cannabis. One ounce of Giaque’s medicine was seized during a traffic stop in April 1999. Deciding to exercise his rights, Mr. Giaque took the case to trial. Judge Watson ruled in his favor, ordering the Humboldt’s Sheriff’s Department to return his ounce of weed. However, when Mr. Giaque went to pick up his stash, the Sheriff’s Department refused to return it.
As a result, Giaque’s attorney insisted Sheriff Lewis be held in contempt of court. He issued this statement: “The sheriff’s intransigence appears to be rooted in political distaste for the type of property ordered returned, and the legislation (prop 215) which compels it … These are not valid reasons for refusing to obey court order … No one is above the law, and it is particularly important those charged with enforcing the law uphold it themselves.”
Sheriff’s Lewis’s cited federal law in response, stating, “(his) position is that a state judge cannot order (him) to violate federal law.” Yet, Judge Watson ultimately ruled that federal law does not pre-empt California voters, concluding, “some level of transportation (of medicinal cannabis) must be contemplated.”
Giague had also been fighting a case over the seizure of 84 plants. He defended that the plants were for medicinal use for himself and those in his collective.
This case in Humboldt Cannabis News History took place prior to the establishment of SB420 which cemented collective and cooperative growing and providing of medicinal cannabis in California.
*This article was provided via Humboldt State University Professor Josh Meisel PhD, co-founder of the Humboldt Institute for Interdisciplinary Marijuana Research