Friday, July 03, 2009

Medical marijuana growers can sue cops

A state appeals court in Sacramento has ruled, in what is called a "landmark" decision, that David Williams of Paradise, CA, can sue a county sheriff's deputy for money damages for ordering him, in 2005, to uproot all but 12 of the marijuana plants he was growing for a seven-patient collective. It turns out that he was authorized by California law to grow as many as 41 plants for seven patients, and that the order to uproot them was unlawful. The court also found that a Butte County policy requiring all members of a patient collective to participate in actual cultivation rather than contributing money to the operation was unlawful.

I wouldn't be surprised if this decision was appealed, although Butte County officials might look at the money San Diego County and the city of Garden Grove wasted trying to validate their desire to have more restrictive approaches to medical marijuana than is authorized by state law. If this decision is upheld, it could be something of a landmark. One can imagine patients (or that invaluable organization, Americans for Safe Access, taking up the legal cudgels, as it did in this case) suing to overturn "temporary" moratoria on medical marijuana dispensaries or cooperatives, or for failure to pass a responsible authorizing ordinance. It would be nice to see some DEA agents sued and held personally responsible for the damage they have done to patients, but since federal law is still full-on prohibition, one might not be able to make a case. But various local law enforcement and city officials may have been put on notice here that it's time to implement the medical marijuana voters passed way back in 1996 rather than trying to limit or thwart it.


Anonymous said...

When is the United States ever going to grow up and legalize pot? Smoking pot isn't "evil". It doesn't make you a "criminal". What gives the government the "right" to decide what citizens can ingest into their own bodies? The "war on drugs" is a travesty and a farce. Time to end it. Legalize Marijuana now.

Alan Bock said...


Mike Valentine said...

Alan, if you are free on Wed., 7/16, at 6:30pm, a group called Citizens for Democracy is holding a forum on this subject in Temecula. I will send you the press release. It would be great if you could join us.