UHP arrests medical marijuana patient for cocaine distribution

Stock image | St. George News

ST. GEORGE — On the heels of an Interstate 15 drug distribution arrest hours earlier, a second man traveling along the interstate was arrested Friday a few miles away on similar drug charges after a Utah Highway Patrol trooper spotted bottles of prescription marijuana in his vehicle.

A trooper stopped the driver of a black Chevrolet truck going northbound on I-15 near milepost 2 around 6:30 a.m. for a traffic violation, according to a probable cause statement filed by the Utah Highway Patrol in support of the arrest.

John Arthur Hernandez, of North Hills, California, booking photo posted Feb. 19, 2016 | Photo courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News
John Arthur Hernandez, of North Hills, California, booking photo posted Feb. 19, 2016 | Photo courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

The driver of the vehicle was identified as 21-year-old John Arthur Hernandez, of North Hills, Calif.

While speaking with Hernandez the trooper observed marijuana prescription bottles in the glove box, according to the report. Further search of the vehicle yielded two ounces of cocaine, marijuana, a scale and a grinder.

After being interviewed by an agent with the State Bureau of Investigation, Hernandez was arrested and booked into the Washington County Purgatory Correctional Facility.

He was charged with second-degree felony drug possession with the intent to distribute, along with two class B misdemeanor counts of possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia.

If Hernandez had not had cocaine in his possession during the Utah traffic stop, he would have still found himself in legal trouble with the prescription marijuana. Under current law, medical marijuana patients cannot legally bring their medical marijuana into Utah.

States without medical marijuana laws can arrest patients under possession laws, even if the patient is registered in their home state. Additionally, federal authorities can arrest patients under federal drug trafficking laws if medical marijuana crosses state lines.

While Utah lawmakers are discussing making changes to this law (Utah Code 58-37-8) during the 2016 legislative session, marijuana remains illegal in Utah.

Hernandez is scheduled to make his initial appearance in 5th District Court Monday afternoon. As this report is published, Hernandez remains in police custody.

Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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1 Comment

  • Ron February 23, 2016 at 11:44 am

    Another undocumented pharmacist. These guys should call their union reps about “work harassment”, “unsafe work environment”, etc., in the State of Utah.
    Great job UHP….don’t let up. And those supporting the MM initiative here in Utah say marijuana is not a “gateway drug”.
    Yeah right….

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