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State v. Reis

Court of Appeals of Washington, Division 1

March 31, 2014

The State of Washington, Respondent ,
William Michael Reis, Petitioner

Superior Court County: King. Superior Court Cause No: 12-1-05360-6 KNT. Date filed in Superior Court: February 6, 2013. Superior Court Judge Signing: Andrea Darvas.

Kurt E. Boehl and Stephanie J. Boehl (of Law Office of Kurt E. Boehl PLLC ), for petitioner.

Daniel T. Satterberg, Prosecuting Attorney, and James M. Whisman, Assistant, for respondent.

AUTHOR: Spearman, A.C.J. WE CONCUR: Dwyer, J., Schindler, J.


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[180 Wn.App. 440] ¶ 1 Spearman, A.C.J.

William Reis was charged with manufacturing a controlled substance in violation of the Uniform Controlled Substances Act, chapter 69.50 RCW, after a search of his residence pursuant to a warrant revealed evidence of a marijuana growing operation. The trial court denied his motion to suppress the evidence. The issue on discretionary review is whether, following the 2011 amendments to the Washington State Medical Use of Cannabis Act (Act or MUCA), chapter 69.51A RCW, a search warrant must be based on probable cause of a violation of medical marijuana laws.[1] We conclude that " qualifying patients" and " designated providers" under the Act are able to assert only an affirmative defense at trial to a charge of a violation of marijuana laws. The search warrant here was supported by probable cause where it was based on evidence of a marijuana growing operation. We affirm.


¶ 2 On May 15, 2012, King County Sheriff's Detective Thomas Calabrese sought a search warrant for William Reis's residence in Burien. Calabrese's affidavit contained the following information: After receiving an anonymous tip that a person named " William" was growing marijuana in the Shorewood area of Burien, Calabrese drove through Shorewood and observed marijuana plants on the back deck of Reis's home. He saw a man transferring the plants from smaller pots to larger ones. From the vantage point of a neighboring property, Calabrese saw black plastic covering one of the basement windows of Reis's home and condensation [180 Wn.App. 441] on that window, which was slightly open. He heard a distinct humming sound coming from the northwest side of the home. Based on his training and experience, Calabrese concluded that these were indications marijuana was being grown indoors. He ran the license plate of the car in the home's driveway and learned it was registered to William Reis. He learned that Reis had been arrested in 2005 and been charged with violation of the Uniform Controlled Substances Act (VUCSA) and violation of the Uniform Firearms Act after a search of the same house revealed a marijuana-growing operation in the basement. He also learned that Reis

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was found in possession of 1.3 grams of marijuana during a 2011 traffic stop. A booking photo of Reis matched the appearance of the man Calabrese had seen tending to the marijuana plants on the deck. Calabrese then attempted to contact Reis's neighbors to inquire about unusual short traffic stays or circumstances around the home that would indicate a drug-dealing operation. The neighbors refused to speak to Calabrese, other than to state that they were fearful of Reis. On a later date, Calabrese drove by Reis's home and again saw marijuana plants on the back deck.

¶ 3 The district court concluded there was probable cause to believe a violation of the Uniform Controlled Substances Act, chapter 69.50 RCW, had been committed and issued a search warrant. The search warrant was served on May 21, 2012. Officers seized 6 mature cannabis plants from Reis's back deck. From inside the home, they seized 31 juvenile cannabis plants and roughly 13 pounds of cannabis. Officers also found a digital scale, high-intensity grow lights, a ledger, receipts for marijuana sales, and a bill of sale from " Chronic LLC." Clerk's Papers (CP) at 4-5, 33.

¶ 4 Reis was charged with a VUCSA, manufacturing of marijuana, during a period of time intervening between [180 Wn.App. 442] April 29, 2012 and May 21, 2012.[2] Reis moved to suppress the evidence found in his home, arguing that the search warrant was not supported by probable cause. The trial court denied his motion.[3] Reis sought discretionary review, which this court granted.[4]


¶ 5 This court reviews conclusions of law in an order pertaining to suppression of evidence de novo. State v. Mendez, 137 Wn.2d 208, 214, 970 P.2d 722 (1999), overruled on other grounds by Brendlin v. California, 551 U.S. 249, 127 S.Ct. 2400, 168 L.Ed.2d 132 (2007).

¶ 6 A search warrant may be issued only upon a determination of probable cause. State v. Cole, 128 Wn.2d 262, 286, 906 P.2d 925 (1995). Probable cause requires " 'facts and circumstances sufficient to establish a reasonable inference that the defendant is probably involved in criminal activity and that evidence of the crime can be found at the place to be searched.'" State v. Shupe, 172 Wn.App. 341, 348, 289 P.3d 741 (2012) (quoting State v. Thein, 138 Wn.2d 133, 140, 977 P.2d 582 (1999)), review denied, 177 Wn.2d 1010, 302 P.3d 180 (2013). In reviewing the issuance of a search warrant, the court is limited to the information contained within the affidavit supporting probable cause. State v. Neth, 165 Wn.2d 177, 182, 196 P.3d 658 (2008).

[180 Wn.App. 443] ¶ 7 Whether the search warrant in this case was supported by probable cause involves the interpretation of RCW 69.51A.040. This court's purpose when interpreting a statute is to enforce the intent of the legislature. Rental Hous. Ass'n of Puget Sound v. City of Des Moines, 165 Wn.2d 525, 536, 199 P.3d 393 (2009). If the plain language of the statute is unambiguous, this court's inquiry ends and the statute is enforced " in accordance with its plain meaning." State v. Armendariz, 160 Wn.2d 106, 110, 156 P.3d 201 (2007). Under the " plain meaning rule," this court examines the statutory scheme as a whole, considering the language of the statute, related statutes, and other provisions of the same act. City of Seattle v. Allison, 148 Wn.2d 75, 81, 59 P.3d 85 (2002). This court attempts to interpret statutes to give effect to all language in the statute and to render no portion meaningless or superfluous. State v. J.P., 149 Wn.2d 444, 450, 69 P.3d 318 (2003). If the statute is subject to more than one reasonable interpretation, it is ambiguous, and the court may resort to aids

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of statutory construction, including examining legislative history. State v. Slattum, 173 Wn.App. 640, 649, 295 P.3d 788, review denied, ...

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