Pubdate: Fri, 18 Jan 2008
Source: Fort Collins Coloradoan (CO)
Copyright: 2008 The Fort Collins Coloradoan
Author: Trevor Hughes
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


Medicinal Plants Worth More Than $200K, They Say

In what is believed to be a first-of-its-kind request  for Colorado, 
a Fort Collins couple is demanding police  pay them more than 
$200,000 for improperly confiscating  and destroying 39 marijuana plants.

"We are not going to stop the fight," James Masters  said Thursday 
afternoon after filing the request at the  Larimer County Justice Center.

Masters and his wife, Lisa, say they use marijuana to  manage their 
medical conditions as allowed under  Colorado's Amendment 20, 
approved by voters in 2000.

Police in August 2006 raided the couple's home,  confiscating plants, 
pot and glassware. However, a  judge ruled that the search warrant 
for that raid was  improperly obtained and threw out the case. In 
June, he ordered Fort Collins police to return the plants.

The problem: The plants were already dead.

Thursday's filing sets the stage for a court hearing to  determine 
just how much the plants were worth to the  Masterses, and whether 
city taxpayers will have to  shell out to cover the damages.

The Masterses' lawyer, Robert Corry Jr., likened the  situation to 
that of having a pet accused of attacking  someone. Police have a 
duty to care for the animal  while they investigate, and the same 
should hold for  the marijuana plants, he said.

"It's like any other case: Police need to return the  property or 
compensate you," Corry said, noting that  some estimates put the 
per-ounce price of marijuana  higher than that of gold.

"This is a historic day. We are seeking compensation  for medical 
marijuana," Corry added.

Police have said they don't have the resources to care  for medical 
marijuana plants, something James Masters  had offered to help them with.

At the time of the initial ruling, Fort Collins police  spokeswoman 
Rita Davis said, because the couple did not  have valid medical 
marijuana certificates at the time  of their arrest, the pot was 
treated like any other  confiscation case.

Thursday, Davis declined to comment, citing the pending litigation.

Amendment 20 requires the "preservation of seized  property interests 
that had been possessed, owned, or  used in connection with a claimed 
medical use of  marijuana and limiting forfeiture of such interests ."

Thursday's filing values the plants at $5,200 each, for  a total of 
$202,800. According to the High Times Web  site, the nationwide 
average for an ounce of marijuana  is $388. Medicinal marijuana, the 
Masterses and Corry  said, is worth more because it is far more 
potent and  grown "with love."

"Medical marijuana is expensive," Corry added.
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