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Medical Marijuana: New Mexico Paraplegic Sues Over Seizure of Plants, Grow Equipment

One of New Mexico's first registered medical marijuana patients is suing Eddy County Sheriff's deputies for seizing his marijuana plants and grow equipment and turning them over to the DEA. Leonard French of Malaga received a license to grow and use marijuana for pain resulting from a spinal cord injury, but that didn't stop the Pecos Valley Drug Task Force, headed by Dave Edmundson of the Eddy County Sheriff's Department, from seizing his plants and equipment shortly after he began growing last summer.
California medical marijuana bags (courtesy Daniel Argo via Wikimedia)
Now, with the help of the ACLU of New Mexico, French has filed a lawsuit in state court seeking a declaratory judgment that the task force's actions violated the state's medical marijuana law, the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act, as well as its asset forfeiture statute; an injunction to stop the task force from again raiding French and his garden; and compensatory damages for his stolen property.

"The New Mexico state legislature, in its wisdom, passed the Compassionate Use Act after carefully considering the benefits the drug provides for people who suffer from uncontrollable pain, and weighing those benefits against the way federal law considers cannabis," said Peter Simonson, ACLU executive director, in a press release announcing the lawsuit. "With their actions against Mr. French, Eddy County officials thwarted that humane, sensible law, probably for no other reason than that they believed federal law empowered them to do so."

When at least four Eddy County deputies acting as members of the Pecos Valley Drug Task Force showed up at French's home last September 4, he thought they were checking his compliance with the medical marijuana law, so he presented them with his license, and showed them his grow, which consisted of two small plants and three dead sprouts. They then turned the plants and the grow equipment over to the DEA, which does not recognize medical marijuana or the state laws that permit its use. French has not been charged with any offense under either state or federal law.

"With the Compassionate Use Act, New Mexico embarked on an innovative project to help people who suffer from painful conditions like Mr. French's," said Simonson. "The law cannot succeed if the threat of arrest by county and local law enforcement hangs over participants in the program. With this lawsuit, we hope to clear the way for the State to implement a sensible, conservative program to apply a drug that traditionally has been considered illicit for constructive purposes."

And maybe teach some recalcitrant cops a lesson about obeying the law.

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Law Enforcement Employer

Isn't it the duty of law enforcement to enforce the laws of the the STATE if they are employed by the state for STATE regulation? I was not aware that STATE law enforcement was authorized to perform FEDERAL law enforcement. Would they (STATE Law Enforcement) not also be in some kind of violation of their oath to the state, to uphold STATE law?
Just Curious.

Are state officers obligated to enforce federal law?

Obviously, the ACLU has decided to test the Tenth Amendment with the question of whether state law enforcement officers are bound to enforce federal law. There's no doubt in my mind that the state law enforcement officers in this case think they do have the right and the obligation to enforce federal law. That's why its critical to point out that federal law, 21 U.S.C. 903, does give the state the ultimate authority to define accepted medical use according to the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Gonzales v. Oregon, 546 U.S. 243 (2006). The state law enforcement officers in this case were violating federal law. Without making this critical argument, there's a good chance this case will not be decided correctly.

Here some food for thought!!!!!!!!

Washington, DC - The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote today on an amendment that would prohibit the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) from raiding and arresting medical marijuana patients and providers in states that have made medical marijuana legal under state law. The "Hinchey Amendment," offered by U.S. House of Representatives member Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) during consideration of the Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill, would prevent the U.S. Department of Justice from spending funds to interfere with medical marijuana in any state that has authorized medical marijuana use.

Nullification is our right!

We look at this one its their but you have to look real good if you get my meaning. Look at #2 book you will find that Marbury vs. Madison is a Supreme court ruling to nullify, laws that we feel are are against our Constitional Rights. What's even better is if we feel personally about these laws, if we get a jury that is a hung jury we can nullify them at a Federal level, so none of the states can use them. I want to get arrested on a federal marijana charge so I can nullify this BULL SHITT!!, law.

Sue the state for failing to protect patients

If it were me, I'd be suing the state of New Mexico for leaving marijuana in schedule 1 of the state version of the Uniform Controlled Substances Act. I would be arguing that the state medical marijuana law is newer and supersedes the older scheduling. According to 21 U.S.C. 903 and the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Gonzales v. Oregon, 546 U.S. 243 (2006), Congress reserved the power to the states to determine accepted medical use. And, according to U.S. v. Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Cooperative, 532 U.S. 483 (2001), the federal government must reschedule marijuana if it has any accepted medical use in the United States. It might be wrong to rely on Gonzales v. Oregon prior to being arrested, but for people who have already been arrested or injured by forfeiture of property, it's insane not to bring this up. Come on people - this is important to the patients. Do it now.

Iowans for Medical Marijuana

I've posted quotes from Oregon v. Gonzales, 546 U.S. 243 (2006), at:

I've also posted my letter to New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, at:

Carl E. Olsen
Iowans for Medical Marijuana

Eddy County Neighbor

I am an approved patient in the NM program. I live within 20 miles of Mr. French. In the southern part of NM the attitudes are quite different than in our urban centers. Old fears and prejudices against marijuana use are an intrinsic part of this very conservative culture. However the concept of the individual over bureaucracy runs strong here in the southern part of NM and I hope this spills over to local law enforcement. In actuality, the Eddy County Drug Task Force should be outraged at being used as pawns by the DEA. I hope Leonard is OK and not the target of further attacks. Mr. French, you are to be commended for your heroism and dedication. You are truly an icon for the patients in NM.

We are going through it too!

Last week our legal grow operation located in Salem, OR was raided. All of our equipment was taken. All legal Marijuana plants still growing in the ground were up-rooted and STOLEN. We were well within the bounds of all legal Oregon Medical Marijuana laws! All of our patients are without medication and I wonder how the state can make laws, only to have the police come break them. The detective in charge of the search told me " the minute you cut down those plants, if they are over 1.5 lbs, u are automatically over. He told my patients attorney, " If it isn't useable....I will trim it up so it is useable."
Are these really the goood guys? Protectors of the innocent? I am not so sure anymore. What do I tell the cancer patients?

Why doesnt these stupid

Why doesnt these stupid local law enforcement agencies realize that the taxes medical marijuana generates is in fact PAYING them.

i dont understand this country. its full of nothing but hypocrites

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