Former California medical marijuana collective owner and current medical ganja delivery driver John Szwec was minding his own business on Monday night when two men approached him and robbed him of his money and an ounce of medical cannabis outside of a Denny's before the pair sped off in a getaway car.
According to the Riverside County Sheriff's office, Szwec followed the two in his truck, keep up with them until they ended up crashing their car while getting on the I-15 freeway. Police arrived quickly after, arresting one of the getaway drivers at the scene and catching up with the other a few hours later. Both are being held on a $30,000 bond and are due in court Feb. 7.
But that's not all police did that night. Szwec also says that in addition to the money and ounce of marijuana they took as evidence, police took the entire medical marijuana stash Szwec had in his own car. And now to add to his ordeal, he says police are refusing to give back any of the herb they confiscated.
Police say Szwec's stash is necessary evidence and is considered the "fruit of the crime", according to the Riverside County Sherriff's department. Szwec's attorneys, on the other hand, see it as police overstepping their boundaries and preventing medical marijuana patients from accessing their legal herb.
"There are no longer operational collectives in the Temecula, Murrieta and other surrounding areas at this time," attorney Sergio Sandoval told local news outlet Murrieta Patch. "The police confiscated the patient group's medication that the managing patient had with him for delivery to patient members. They have now refused to return that medication despite state law--specifically the case of Kha v. City of Garden Grove--that requires the return of that medication so it can be provided to patients."
But officials with the sheriff's department say that due to the criminal proceedings, the marijuana will be necessary to "appropriately prosecute the suspects". We are required by the DA's office to retain custody of all evidence in a case until the case is adjudicated and the evidence in the case is no longer needed," said a Riverside County Sheriff's office spokeswoman. Apparently, that means taking items that had absolutely nothing to do with the crime.
This isn't Diamond Star Remedies first hassle with authorities. Back in December of last year, the medical marijuana collective was shut down by Murrieta police for failing to meet code violations.