It's not every day that police hand you $12,800 worth of pot.
But such was the case in Ellsworth, Maine, where local police officers returned the 17 stolen plants to licensed medical marijuana caregiver Thomas Davis, the Bangor Daily News reports.
The plants were taken last week from a greenhouse near Davis' home.
Police arrested and charged Aaron Pert, 32, of Trenton, Maine, with the burglary after he admitted to the crime after a car he was in was pulled over for allegedly running a stop sign. Pert eventually told police where the freshly harvested plants were stashed and police recovered the marijuana, according to the Daily News.
Now it seemed Ellsworth police had a dilemma. They didn't know whether to destroy the pot, which they would normally do with illegal drugs, or return the pot to Davis.
According to the newspaper, the police department was worried about violating federal law if officers returned the medical marijuana, which is legal under state law.
"This is new," Ellsworth police Lt. Harold Page said. "No one's dealt with this before." Page said he thinks this may be the first reported burglary of medical marijuana in the state.
Ellsworth police Chief John DeLeo said on Monday that returning the medical marijuana to Davis was legal.
Despite the return of his plants, Thomas said about 85 percent of the stolen crop is now damaged by mold, which was expected to happen the longer the plants were out of the greenhouse, the Daily News reports.
Davis, a state-licensed caregiver for three patients, also uses the marijuana himself to treat pain caused by fibromyalgia.
The theft will set him back for months, Davis told the newspaper, and he's worried his patients may have to get their medication elsewhere.
However, Davis said he hopes reporting the incident and the cooperation with local police will set a precedent in which the police will view medical marijuana the same way it views other stolen medicine it recovers.
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