The Tacoma Police Department of Washington may be charged with contempt after ignoring a judicial order to return marijuana seized from a man during a traffic stop last year.

Municipal Court Judge Jack Emery repeated the order after police refused in late February to return a small amount of pot confiscated during a stop for a speeding violation. Joseph L. Robertson was cited for driving with a suspended license and for misdemeanor marijuana possession, but was later found to possess a medical marijuana license. Robertson later produced proof of licensure and asked for the city to return the marijuana; however, the city refused.

"Appeal or comply," Emery told assistant city attorney John Walker. "Or next week, show up, and I would advise you to bring counsel."

The seized marijuana is being stored at the Pierce County Sheriff's Department, which stores evidence for the city police department. Deputies there refuse to return the marijuana, saying the decision is up to the sheriff's department.

"It's Tacoma's case," said Sheriff's spokesman Ed Troyer. "If they want it, they can come and get it."

Although finding "contemptuous behavior" on the part of the police department, Emery said the dispute derives from the conflict between federal and state laws on medical marijuana.