Investigations

Huntington State Beach, Orange County

Over the years, countless beers and tropical concoctions have been poured into the sand by peace officers patrolling the state beaches at "Surf City."

Alcohol is not allowed here.

But the times they are a-changin' as officers note a more recent development: beach marijuana use by visitors who have medical marijuana cards.

Lt. Jeff David, the top peace officer at Huntington and Bolsa Chica state beaches, said officers often stop people for smoking pot, only to find they have a card, and so are legal.

If they are sharing, however, citations generally go to their pals.

"They don't ever see us coming," David said. "I had a guy pass me a bong one time."

Most drug-related citations on the beach are for possession, not for sales.

State parks statistics show that the incidence of marijuana possession has more than doubled at Huntington State Beach. The Orange County beach had 31 such incidents in 2009, compared with 13 the year before.

A decade earlier, in 1999, Huntington State Beach logged only five marijuana possessions.

Marijuana smoke wafting from joints or pipes often is enough to prompt non-pot-smoking visitors to flag down park staff, said Joseph Milligan, a superintendent in the Orange Coast District.

"We do get complaints," he said. "And when we find it, we do take steps to curtail that activity."

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