Insurance Company Reimburses Patient for Seized Marijuana 9/10/99

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(courtesy NORML Foundation,

Sept. 9, 1999, Fair Oaks, CA: A 71-year-old medical marijuana user received a $6,500 payout from his homeowner's insurance policy -- the claim: reimbursement for the 13 marijuana plants killed from lack of watering after being seized by law enforcement 11 months earlier.

The Sacramento district attorney's office dismissed charges against Robert DeArkland (cultivation of marijuana and possession of marijuana with the intent to sell) in April, due to "lack of evidence." DeArkland then filed a claim with CGU California Insurance, which insures his home, for the damage to the plants and the door which sheriff's deputies broke down during the raid.

At first the insurance company was skeptical of the claim because the deputies had a warrant, but in July, L. Bruce Bogart, a CGU California adjuster, wrote to DeArkland: "I realize the value (of the 13 plants) at maturity approximates $20,500... however the plants were not at maturity. Thus, we need to try to agree on a value." CGU California sent DeArkland a check for $6,500 ($500 per plant) which was the maximum payment allowed under a shrubbery clause in his policy.

DeArkland told the Sacramento Bee, "I had to fight to get my $6,500." This is not the first time an insurance company has reimbursed a policy holder for stolen or seized marijuana. State Farm, the nation's largest home insurer, paid a Washington claimant for his stolen marijuana in May after the company received a doctor's documentation that the marijuana was for medicinal purposes. "It's just one more indication that marijuana is being recognized as a legal substance in appropriate uses," said Dale Gieringer, State Coordinator of California NORML.

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Issue #107, 9/10/99 First National Student Conference on Drug Policy and Justice, November 5-6, Washington, DC | New Mexico Poll: 60% Agree Drug War is Failing, Disagree on Solutions | Australia: UN Drug Official Slams Safe Injecting Room | Canada: Starbucks Needle Disposal Prompts Investigation | Insurance Company Reimburses Patient for Seized Marijuana | SAMHSA Study Calls for More Workplace Drug Treatment, but Also Supports More Drug Testing | Quote of the Week | Cato Institute Briefing Paper Warns of "Culture of Paramilitarism" in Law Enforcement | Editorial: Standing Up 101
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