Police in Tacoma are ordered by a judge to return confiscated marijuana to its owner after they stopped Joseph Robertson for a traffic violation. If they do not follow the judge's orders within a week, they will be found contempt.
Contempt means they are behaving in a disorderly, contemptuous or insolent manner toward the judge. If they are found to be contempt, they can be punished with a fine or jail time.
Judge Jack Emery ordered police to return the drugs on Thursday or face the criminal contempt charge.
But that was not the first time he had ordered police to return it. On February 28, he made an initial attempt to have the police return the drugs but they refused. It was in May 2012 that police originally cited Robertson for speeding and driving without a license. They also found marijuana in his car and charged him with misdemeanor marijuana possession. He had three bags of marijuana, the equivalent of 40 grams.
In December, prosecutors dismissed the marijuana charge after voters legalized small amounts of marijuana for recreational use. Robertson said he wanted his marijuana back, provided them with a medical marijuana permit, and said he is legally allowed to carry less than 24 ounces of the drug.
The judge found Robertson was legally carrying the marijuana and ordered the police to give it back to him. But deputies at the Pierce County sheriff's department refused to give back the marijuana due to a jurisdictional conflict.
"It's Tacoma's case. If they want it, they can come get it," Sheriff Spokesman Ed Troyer said.