Most folks go their entire lives without having a police officer hand them pounds of pot.
Matthew Zugsberger isn't one of those folks.
On Wednesday, Zugsberger saw the first portion of the 11-plus pounds of marijuana seized from him in February returned by Kent Police. Included in the bunch, he said, was a quarter pound of hashish of which Zugsberger remains quite fond.
A Californian with a prescription for medical marijuana, Zugsberger was arrested with his girlfriend at a Kent pharmacy after a police canine found the pot and a scale in the trunk of his car. In a claim not supported by police statements, Zugsberger says investigators accused him of hoping to import pot from Canada.
"They kept saying that I came to Washington to buy pot out of Canada," Zugsberger said. "Why the hell would I buy pot from Canada if I have a field of it in my backyard?"
Felony drug charges were filed, a deal was struck and Zugsberger ultimately pleaded guilty to misdemeanor possession. Zugsberger was freed on three-months probation.
His marijuana, though, remained in custody.
At issue, attorneys for both sides allowed, was the variance in medical marijuana laws between the two states. While California and Washington both allow the medical use of marijuana, Washington allows patients to possess 1 ½-pounds pot while California permits them five pounds.
Late last month, Zugsberger's defense attorney Aaron Pelley filed a petition with King County Superior Court demanding that the pot be returned to Zugsberger. In a compromise, Pelley said, the judge ruled that Zugsberger would be returned his marijuana in 1 ½-pound portions at seven-day increments.
"To my knowledge, it was the first time anyone has asked for their marijuana back," said Pelley, who is active with the marijuana-law reform organization Cannabis Defense Coalition. "It's the weirdest case I've ever dealt."