A Madison couple investigated for possessing marijuana and drug paraphernalia in Baraboo will not be charged with a crime for possessing the controlled substance.
The Baraboo Police Department and City Attorney Mark Reitz declined to prosecute the offenses and found the couple provided authorities with valid Wisconsin medical marijuana prescriptions.
While investigating a complaint about a dog left in the vehicle of Greg and Karen Kinsley on Sept. 13 at the Sauk County Fairgrounds, Baraboo Police Sgt. Mark Lee and Det. Jeremy Drexler spotted a marijuana pipe through the car window. The officers confiscated it along with a small amount of marijuana after resolving the pet issue.
During a discussion, the couple provided signed documentation from Wisconsin doctors recommending medicinal marijuana and Karen Kinsley presented a valid Oregon medical marijuana registry card.
The husband and wife say their prescriptions for medical marijuana are intended to help with Crohn’s disease and treat the pain of scoliosis, respectively.
A seldom used state law passed in 1971 allows Wisconsin citizens to possess marijuana with a valid doctor’s note and serves as an exemption to the Wisconsin Controlled Substance Act.
The couple spent some time discussing the statutes with police, who ultimately declined to issue possession charges at the scene, and instead deferred the matter to the Baraboo City Attorney Mark Reitz for possible prosecution as a city ordinance violation.
“If the person in possession of the marijuana had a valid prescription, then that is valid in Wisconsin,” Reitz said shortly after the incident.
Police focused their investigation on determining whether the prescriptions were valid.
In an email Lee sent to the couple Oct. 23 at the conclusion of his investigation, the police sergeant said he spoke with Dr. Zorba Paster of Dean Clinic in Oregon, Wisconsin, who recommended medical marijuana.
“After speaking to him I believe that the letter you received from him in 2012 could be interpreted as a ‘medical order,’” the statement says. “Due to this, there will be no charges or citations from this agency.”
In his police report, Det. Drexler reached the same conclusion.
“It would appear at this time that they would be under the law with the statutes provided,” he stated.
Lee said he looked into the “rather rigid system” of rules and regulations of the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program, and warned the Kinsleys that program prevents them from using marijuana in public.
He told the Madison couple that smoking in their vehicle is hazardous if they drive while impaired, and also could violate the terms of their Oregon prescription since activity inside a vehicle typically occurs within public view.
There are few regulations regarding use of medical marijuana in the 1971 Wisconsin legislation. Numerous attempts to legislate more comprehensive marijuana reforms in the state have failed over the years, leaving no means of supply for Wisconsin medical marijuana users or restrictions on qualifying conditions.
Medication not returned
In his email, Lee also stated that the items confiscated from the Kinsleys would not be returned because it could not be determined if the substances were obtained legally through the Oregon program. Wisconsin has no medical marijuana dispensaries, and the law does not specifically regulate how the medicine can be obtained.
Greg Kinsley said he believes police should return the property and said he plans to contact Reitz for clarification about the refusal to release the medication.