Captain of the RCPD’s Investigations Division James Johns said that cannabis is not a commonly arrestable offense, though, and usually charges occur in conjunction with another, larger crime. Post-July 1, determining whether an arrest is necessary will depend on the circumstances of a particular situation and will be based on whether other charges are filed.
The “true beast,” he said, would be enforcing the laws for people who do not follow the rules or are using cannabis recreationally.
“If you’re at a big party and everybody’s rolling a joint and smoking it, then that’s still going to be illegal under Initiated Measure 26. You have to have a medical reason to be in possession of marijuana,” Johns said.
The medical law has a provision to protect patients before cards are issued, but it is not a valid defense for recreational users.
“People have to be informed about what they’re doing. Ignorance of the law is not a defense. So if somebody is going to be out there making a choice to have marijuana or be around marijuana or use marijuana, they better be making an informed decision, because if they’re wrong, there will be consequences,” he said.
Searches and seizures as part of traffic stops will be affected by the medical law; the odor of cannabis alone is not enough for an officer to search a vehicle. The department put together an outline for its officers noting the differences in search and seizure rules.