|Photo: Lewis County Herald|
|Enjoy your high, officers. Now, that’ll be $40,000. Cash or credit?|
A California medical marijuana patient may soon be receiving almost $40,000 from the sheriff’s department for six pounds of unlawfully seized and destroyed cannabis.
Kimberley Marshall, 46, of Los Osos, Calif., has filed a claim for damages against Sheriff Patrick Hedges and the county, alleging the county unjustly seized and destroyed the medicinal pot, reports Matt Fountain of New Times.
If she prevails, Marshall could be the first medical marijuana patient in San Luis Obispo County to be paid for confiscated cannabis.
Marshall, a survivor of liver cancer and other afflictions, seeks $36,000 — $6,000 per pound of confiscated marijuana — plus attorney fees and damages, according to the claim, filed Dec. 23.
Sheriff’s deputies entered Marshall’s home on March 31, 2009, in a warrantless search involving her son, who was on probation. During the course of the search, officers discovered Marshall’s 18-month supply of marijuana, which she says was locked in a closet in her bedroom.
After being repeatedly told by Marshall’s son that the marijuana was medicinal, deputies contacted her over the phone, at which time she explained her condition and demanded the marijuana be left at her home.
|This time, the cops may actually have to pay for the six pounds of pot they stole.|
Documentation proving Marshall’s status as a legal medical marijuana patient was visible to the deputies, according to her claim. When she returned, she says she found the ignored documents behind some furniture in her bedroom.
Deputies told Marshall her property would be returned once she showed proper paperwork. When finally interviewed by a deputy four months later, she presented her physician’s letter of recommendation and told officers further documentation was available from her lawyer.
On September 1, the district attorney rejected the criminal case against Marshall, based on her medical defense.
That’s when things got weird.
The very next day, the sheriff’s department told the D.A.’s office that the marijuana in the evidence room was “no longer needed” — that they hadn’t received a request for return of property, nor deemed the marijuana was for medical purposes — and requested the district attorney get a court order for its destruction.
On Oct. 5, the D.A. filed the request, and four days later, Judge Dodie Harmon ordered the marijuana destroyed. Unaware of this, Marshall’s lawyer, Harold Mesick, filed a request for the return of the pot on Oct. 22 and was told by county counsel that it had already been destroyed. The county also claimed that the sheriff’s department “had no record” of Marshall’s medical documentation.
According to Marshall’s new lawyer, Louis Koory, the sheriff’s department violated his client’s due process rights and deprived her of the use and value of the property by having the marijuana destroyed. Koory said there were no pending criminal charges against Marshall, and that her previous lawyer, Mesick, had already established that Marshall was a legal medical marijuana patient.
Sheriff’s department Rob Bryn showed nothing but contempt for Marshall’s loss of property and health concerns.
“Cases like this are brought on by the medical marijuana lobby as a way to garner publicity,” Bryan sneeringly said. “And in this case, the sheriff’s department is not willing to play along.
The San Louis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department has earned an unsavory reputation for really hating pot and for trampling the rights of medical marijuana patients.
In 2008, Sheriff Pat Hedges refused to return a small bag of cannabis to Arroyo Grande resident D. Craig Steffens, even after Steffens proved he had a physician’s recommendation and criminal charges were dropped.
A judge ordered Sheriff Hedges to return the weed, but Hedges, displaying contempt for the very rule of law he is sworn to uphold, refused until threatened with a contempt-of-fourt order.
Under San Luis Obispo County medical marijuana rules, patients may possess up to eight ounces of pot, unless their physician specifically recommends a larger quantity.
Attorney Koory said Marshall’s claim is “in review,” and the county counsel his six months to either accept or reject it. Koory predicted the latter, at which time Marshall could choose to file a civil lawsuit against Sheriff Hedges and the county.