Even though medical marijuana is legal in California, many patients can become ensnared in the criminal justice system. Law enforcement authorities are often looking for violations so they can charge users and distributors with drug-related crimes.
In a recent case, medical marijuana patients in Lakeport have filed a lawsuit against local law enforcement for Constitutional violations, including warrantless searches. The medical marijuana patients are also seeking a total of $621,000 in monetary damages and have succeeded in getting a preliminary injunction to stop local authorities from continuing with warrantless raids.
According to reports, a lawsuit was filed after several claimants allege they were victims of illegal raids over the past several weeks. The three plaintiffs range from 60 to 70 years-old and were growing their own plants. These medical marijuana patients were the target of raids in which local law enforcement officials broke through gates, illegally entered the property of each patient and seized their medical marijuana. The law enforcement agents did not have consent, a warrant or any legal authority to enter premises or seize property.
If the allegations are true, they are grave violations of the Fourth Amendment.
Now, each of the plaintiffs have sought monetary compensation for the raids for damages up to $125,000 each. The compensation is meant to cover property damages that were destroyed in the illegal raids, as well as punitive damages.
Our Orange County medical marijuana attorneys are dedicated to protecting the rights of patients, distributors and other individuals throughout Southern California. We understand the legal landscape is complicated and can leave patients and dispensary owners vulnerable to law enforcement abuses and criminal charges.
In this case, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office could be liable for conducting what have been called “paramilitary-style raids” without abiding by proper civil law.
This case is a reminder that law enforcement authorities have the potential to abuse their discretion and deprive citizens of their constitutional rights.
The lawsuit sought a preliminary injunction to prevent future raids and to recover financial compensation for individuals whose rights were violated by law enforcement officials. Lawyers working on behalf of the patients stated the lawsuit is intended to protect individual rights and to remind authorities they are not above the law. According to an attorney, the Sheriff’s Office has an obligation to respect constitutional rights when carrying out any local or state drug operation.
This litigation will hopefully hold these agencies accountable.
The tort claims are connected to another federal case filed in San Francisco earlier this year. There, plaintiffs challenged Lake County’s enforcement of Measure N. Measure N is a local ordinance restricting medical marijuana cultivation in the county. It has been criticized for overburdening medical marijuana card holders and was only adopted by a narrow margin. A preliminary injunction was also granted in this case.
The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 949-375-4734.
More Blog Entries:
Getting Started in the Medical Marijuana Industry, May 15, 2014, Los Angeles Marijuana Lawyer Blog
United States Marijuana Laws Influencing Other Countries, February 14, 2014, Los Angeles Marijuana Lawyer Blog