The deputy conducted a traffic stop on the sedan, to which the driver complied. As the deputy approached the right side of the vehicle, the passenger rolled down the window, emitting a strong odor of marijuana from inside.
When the deputy asked about the smell, the driver, identified as Kirk Hutchins, 23, of Eloy, presented a container with approximately two grams of marijuana inside. Hutchins provided the deputy with his license and a valid medical marijuana card. A check of Hutchins’ license status showed it was suspended. Hutchins indicated he was going to pay imposed fines next week to get his license reinstated.
As the deputy continued to question Hutchins 20 feet from his vehicle, a strong odor of raw marijuana consistent with a large quantity of pot was emitting from inside. When asked about why the smell was so strong Hutchins replied, “Man, that’s only the half of it. You should have smelled it before my buddy took the other half.” Hutchins also said there was no additional marijuana inside the vehicle and told the deputy he could not search his car.
Hutchins was placed under arrest and secured in a patrol vehicle, a search of his pockets turned up over $700 cash. An inventory search of the vehicle turned up a duffle bag with approximately two pounds of additional packaged, vacuumed sealed hydroponics, as well as several more stacks of cash totaling over $10,000. Several other drug paraphernalia items were also seized from the vehicle.
Hutchins was transported to the Pinal County Adult Detention Center and booked on charges of Possession, Transportation and Sale of Marijuana and Driving on a Suspended License.
“This case demonstrates the underlying concern facing law enforcement as it relates to the medical marijuana law. Mr. Hutchins may have had the legal means to obtain approved medicinal marijuana, but he’s clearly abusing the system,” Sheriff Paul Babeu said. “We don’t want to become like other states where individuals take advantage of the law for their own personal gain, instead of the intended medical purposes.”