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Medical Marijuana: Users, Growers Can Sue Over Police Raids, California Appeals Court Rules

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #592)

In the first ruling of its kind, the California 3rd District Court of Appeal in Sacramento held Wednesday that medical marijuana patients and growers can sue police for illegally raiding their properties and destroying their plants. The ruling came in County of Butte v. Butte County Superior Court.

In that case, a Butte County sheriff's deputy went to the home of medical marijuana grower David Williams and demanded he destroy all but 12 of the 41 plants he was growing for a seven-person collective. Williams had complete documentation for his grow, but, threatened with arrest, he complied with the unlawful order. He then sued the county and won in Superior Court.

The county appealed, arguing that patients and providers could invoke the state's medical marijuana law only as a defense to criminal charges, not to sue for damages. But the appeals court sided with the lower court, holding that medical marijuana patients and providers have the same right as any other citizens to sue officials who violate the constitutional ban on illegal searches and seizures.

Williams was relying on "the same constitutional guarantee of due process available to all individuals," wrote Justice Vance Raye for the 2-1 majority. Medical marijuana patients and providers do not need to suffer "the expense and stress of criminal proceedings," to assert their rights, he wrote.

In a dissenting opinion, Justice Fred Morrison wrote that Congress should ease the federal ban on marijuana to accommodate the 13 states that allow medical use. But in the meantime, he argued, no one has the right to use marijuana, and police can legally confiscate it.

The county is likely to appeal to the state Supreme Court. But unless and until that happens, law enforcement in California should be on notice that any misbehavior regarding medical marijuana could turn out to be very expensive.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Anonymous (not verified)

No one should go to jail for marijuana... or be forced into a mandatory/volunteer rehab program!

We all possess the same right to pursue happiness... without threats against our lives, liberties, and legally acquired properties. To do otherwise is coercive and illegal!

Fri, 07/03/2009 - 4:31pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

I think the DEA should be allowed to participate in these law suits too. And, someone needs to sue the ONDCP for the false and misleading information they put forth. Not only law suits, but criminal prosecution, such as "armed robbery", "assault", "terrorism", and if they arrested anybody,"false arrest", "kidnapping". "assault and battery", the list could go on, but the possibility's are endless. Then, a class action suit against the Federal government, for the suffering caused by withholding medical research on a substance that their false information, and flawed "studies" say has "no medical property's" even though it's been used for thousands of years as such. Now either they're really stupid, or they believe their own lies, or both. But this deliberate ignorance really makes them look more like criminal conspirators than an effective government, because an effective responsible government wouldn't waste the billions of dollars on a continuing failure, for 30+ years. I mean, how stupid does one have to be, to keep doing the same thing over, and over, and expect different results ? Maybe, "stupid" is the wrong word.
Ya know, America ended when WWII ended. That's when the greatness turned into insanity, and our government has been going down hill ever since, and it keeps picking up speed.
And, even the idea of a "war on drugs" is insane, you can't fight a war against an inanimate object, you fight wars against people, not objects, they minds well be at war with the moon, makes as much sense, and they have about the same chance of winning that one to. Our government is severely retarded.

Fri, 07/03/2009 - 4:34pm Permalink

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