RI: Stolen Medical Marijuana Plants Recovered

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Ron Strider

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A medical marijuana patient's pilfered pot plants were recovered on Oct. 4, following the execution of a search warrant on Main Street in Richmond, near the town's police station.

"The day after our last meeting on Oct. 3, we executed a search warrant on Main Street — not too far from the police station - in reference to stolen marijuana plants," said Richmond Police Chief Elwood Johnson during Tuesday's Richmond Town Council Meeting. The culprit, who absconded with the victim's crop from property on Carolina Nooseneck Road, was also caught with five ounces of dried marijuana and $1,000 in cash, stashed in a microwave. The cash, cops allege, were drug proceeds hidden in the home of the culprit.

"The culprit did not have a medical marijuana card," said Johnson, "but the victim, who lived on Carolina Nooseneck, did have a medical marijuana card, and his crop was stolen." Johnson commended Richmond Police Detective Drew Bishop for his work on the case, as well as an unnamed third shift officer who happened to be in the right place at the right time. "Detective Bishop did a great job on this investigation, and received information through normal police work," said Johnson, "It just so happened that it was independently corroborated by a third shift officer who happened to be on Caroline Nooseneck on routine patrol."

Detective Bishop, who became the Richmond Police Department's first detective in 2011, is, according to the police department's website, responsible for "criminal investigations and prosecutions of both misdemeanors and felonies involving both adult and juvenile offenders," with a special proactivity in relation to "narcotics investigations involving the sale and distribution of controlled substances" and the resolution of burglaries and break-ins in the area. This recent endeavor incorporated many elements of Bishop's extensive expertise.

Rhode Island's first medical marijuana act was enacted on January 3, 2006, and it aimed to protect medical marijuana patients and their caregivers from arrest and prosecution. Under Rhode Island's current medical marijuana laws, a patient may possess up to twelve mature marijuana plants and twelve seedlings, as well as up to two and a half ounces of usable marijuana, categorized by the Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition as the dried leaves and flowers of the marijuana plant. All plants must be stored indoors and cultivated in one location.

The possession of marijuana for personal, non-medical use by a person 18 or older in the state of Rhode Island is considered a civil violation. Punishment is exacted through a $150.00 fine, but offenders are not given jail time and their criminal records are not impacted. Possession of anywhere between one ounce and one kilogram, or roughly 35 ounces, of marijuana for personal use is a misdemeanor in this state, resulting in a maximum punishment of a year's imprisonment and a fine of up to $500.00. There are much more stringent laws surrounding the illicit cultivation or sale of marijuana in its myriad forms. The culprit in this case has been charged with a crime related to possession of more than an ounce of marijuana, as well as two other charges — receiving stolen goods, and conspiracy to receive stolen goods.

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