Cops give Davidovich his weed back
Usually, police confiscate pot. But today, they gave some of it back.
Acting on a court order, San Diego police returned to Eugene Davidovich—a medical marijuana patient who was recently acquitted on charges of possession and intent to distribute marijuana—an ounce of marijuana and 14 grams of hashish, along with marijuana paraphernalia and personal effects, which they confiscated in a raid last year.
“Really, my concern is my passport. That’s the most expensive thing to replace,” Davidovich told CityBeat this morning, as he walked from a coffee shop in Golden Hill to police headquarters Downtown. “The medicine, you know, it’s been a year. I’m sure it’s not in very good condition.”
This marked the end of a year-long court battle that pitted the outspoken medical-cannabis advocate against District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis.
Davidovich, a co-founder of the medical-cannabis collective San Diego Cannabis Providers, was arrested in February 2009 as part of Operation Endless Summer, ostensibly a crackdown on drug trafficking within military housing. According to Davidovich’s attorney, Michael McCabe, he was charged on one count of selling cannabis, two counts of possession with intent to sell and one count of felony possession of “concentrated cannabis,” the legal term for hashish.
In March, a jury found Davidovich, a Navy vet who says he uses medical-marijuana to treat anxiety and migraines, not guilty on all counts. But the protracted fight didn’t come without its costs: He separated from his wife and lost his job, along with his financial stability.
“They completely financially broke me,” he said. “It put my whole life upside down. It put me in a completely different direction than where I was headed.”
And getting back his passport and marijuana, among the other documents police confiscated, was a hassle all its own.
The District Attorney’s Office stonewalled, so he and McCabe issued a “letter of demand,” formally requesting that Davidovich’s property be returned.
“[The DA] didn’t join in it,” Davidovich said. “They didn’t oppose the motion, they just simply didn’t participate in it.”
Finally, on April 30, California Superior Court Judge David M. Szumowski signed a court order, written by Davidovich’s attorney, ordering the San Diego Police Department to return Davidovich’s “property”—“including, but not limited to, the 34.1 grams of marijuana contained within 11 separate plastic bags, as well as 14.59 grams of concentrated cannabis (hashish) contained within three separate plastic bags, together with the paraphernalia associated with these items,” the order says.
This morning, Davidovich arrived at police headquarters just before 10 a.m. and met with his attorney and half a dozen of his supporters, including James Dean Stacy, a fellow medical-cannabis advocate who’s also facing criminal charges.
Davidovich said he was worried he might be detained by federal agents and charged with possession after he retrieved his marijuana, but the only hitch was that the evidence storage room actually didn’t open until 11 a.m.
Not a problem: as his friends waited in the lobby, an officer let Davidovich and McCabe into the evidence storage room early.
A few minutes later, the two exited the storage room carrying a backpack—containing Davidovich’s passport, cell phone, a wallet-sized photo of his baby boy, his doctor’s recommendation and the 2008 edition of the Margolin Guide to Marijuana Laws, among other sundries—and a cardboard box full of marijuana.
“It’s done!” McCabe cried.
In the courtyard of police headquarters, a smiling Davidovich inspected the contents of the box: bags full of marijuana and hashish, a vaporizer, a scale, a grinder, a cigarette maker covered in marijuana dust, and a green pipe with a few dried nuggets still resting in the bowl.
“Is any of that … usable?” one of his friends asked.
“The concentrated cannabis is 100 percent effective. There shouldn’t be any damage to it, unless they tampered with it,” Davidovich explained studiously. “The dried flowers won’t be, but they could be made into concentrate.”
(A spokesman for the police department did not return a phone call from CityBeat by the time this article was posted.)
In the past, California courts in Butte and Orange counties have ordered the return of medical cannabis. But this is the first time this has happened in San Diego County, McCabe said.
But while Davidovich counts this as a victory, he says there’s no way he can “undo the raid” and let life go back to what it was.
Asked what he plans to do now, he glanced at his box and chuckled. “Right now, I’m going to go back and continue looking for work,” he said. “Put this away.”
Correction: This article incorrectly reported that Davidovich is a Gulf War veteran and was tried by a grand jury.