Medical marijuana patients and growers can sue police for illegally raiding their property and destroying their plants, a state appeals court ruled Wednesday.
The 2-1 decision by the Third District Court of Appeal in Sacramento was the first in the state to allow a patient or grower to sue claiming that their rights to cultivate and use medical marijuana have been violated. Those rights are protected by state law but banned by federal law.
Officials in Butte County, where the case arose, argued that patients and suppliers can invoke the medical marijuana law only as a defense to criminal charges, not to sue for damages. The court’s dissenting justice said no one is entitled to compensation for the destruction of a drug banned under federal law.
But the court’s majority said a marijuana patient or member of a collective has the same right as anyone else to sue officers who violate the constitutional ban on illegal searches and seizures.
Brad Stephens, a deputy county counsel, said the county would probably appeal to the state Supreme Court.
By Radical Russ