Drug confiscation is often twisted

Christine Owen, Editor in Chief
Christine Owen, Editor in Chief

How many of you use marijuana? Let me re-phrase that. How many of you use marijuana for medicinal purposes?

Well, there’s good news for those of you who grow marijuana for “medicinal” reasons if your stash has recently been confiscated by the police.

That good news is that you might be able to be reimbursed through your homeowners insurance if the cops take away your green.

Last May, police arrested Ontario resident David Fawcett, seized his marijuana plants and turned them over to the Drug Enforcement Agency. Charges against Fawcett were later dropped because under California’s Compassionate Use Act, he was legally prescribed medicinal marijuana to ease his depression, shingles and anxiety.

Displeased by the confiscation of his plants, Fawcett filed a claim with National General Insurance Co.

They paid Fawcett’s claim in the amount of $5,525 and acknowledged that Fawcett’s homeowners policy covers the the plants. The policy contains a provision that covers the “theft of trees, shrubs and other plants, up to five percent of the home’s insured value.” Fawcett paid a $1,000 deductible, and five months after the claim was reported, he received his check.

There are several things in this story that I find twisted.

One is the apparent ease of which Fawcett was able to get reimbursed for his marijuana plants. I am surprised at how he was able to convince the insurance company that the plants had been “stolen.”

If this really is the case and the insurance company truly believes that the plants were indeed stolen, then they need to file charges…against the police who took the plants away. Isn’t it obvious that they are the thieves?

I do not know a lot about insurance companies. My dealings with them have been limited to the occasional call to the car insurance company to report a fender bender. However, I do know that if I am involved in an accident where I am not at fault, my insurance company will reimburse me what my policy covers and then sue the person at fault for the accident because they want their money back.

I can only assume that a homeowners insurance company would do the same.

Additionally, Fawcett’s plants should never have been confiscated to begin with. Instead of taking drugs off the street (which is what I assume was the intent of the police), it put more money back into the illegal world of drug dealing. Fawcett admitted that he used $4,000 of his award claim to buy “black market” marijuana in order to keep up with his habit of smoking five to eight marijuana cigarettes per day.

Like it or not, agree with it or hate it, a licensed physician gave him a prescription for marijuana to alleviate his illnesses. And this prescription was legal. This, coupled with the fact that the DA dropped charges against him, meant that Fawcett should never have been arrested or have his plants taken away from him.

But because he was and because they were, Fawcett was reimbursed money which he did not use to help a faltering economy but instead he fed it into the black market.

The irony in this case is remarkable.

The police arrest a man for possessing marijuana for medicinal purposes. The DA drops the charges and the man gets money for his confiscated plants, money which he feeds into the black market. Lovely. I can not think of a more tragic example of the way our screwed up judicial system works.

Fawcett said that he has tried prescription drugs such as Zoloft and nothing works to alleviate his pain, except marijuana.

If this truly is the case, then he needs to be left alone to live his life without harassment. The taxpayer dollars used to arrest Fawcett are the same taxpayer dollars which are being used to fight the black market, the same black market Fawcett bought his marijuana from after his had been “stolen.”

Christine Owen, a senior journalism major, is editor in chief of the Campus Times. She can be reached by e-mail at owenc@ulv.edu.

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Journalism operations manager at the University of La Verne. Production manager and business manager of the Campus Times.

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