Pubdate: Mon, 17 Dec 2012
Source: Fort Collins Coloradoan (CO)
Copyright: 2012 The Fort Collins Coloradoan
Author: Robert Allen


A man jurors acquitted of multiple marijuana felonies has sued the
Larimer County Sheriff's Office after his 42 plants were destroyed,
according to a lawsuit recently filed in 8th Judicial District Court.

Denver lawyer Rob Corry said his client expects to receive $5,000 per
plant (totaling $210,000), based on what law enforcers have testified
a marijuana plant is worth, in addition to attorney fees.

Kaleb Young, 34, had been growing the plants in a Wellington home in
compliance with Colorado's medical marijuana laws and during a warrant
search in September 2010 had shown deputies paperwork authorizing him
to do so, according to the lawsuit.

Young was arrested, and his plants, raw marijuana and equipment were
among items taken during the search. An investigation, including
surveillance, had been under way for five months after deputies
followed up on a tip, according to filings in the criminal court case.

The case went to trial, and Young was acquitted of all charges in
November 2011.

"Typically, the agency will preserve the plants as they're required to
do under the (Colorado) Constitution," Corry said. "Here, they just
straight-up cut them down and destroyed them."

Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith declined comment Friday because he
had not seen the lawsuit, a sheriff's spokesman said in an email.
Smith has previously said it would be a violation of federal law for
his agency to dispense marijuana to the public.

Fort Collins Police Services, in at least one instance of a marijuana
grower claiming medical status, has taken samples and photos of
plants, leaving them at the scene where the warrant was served. Corry
said this is ordinary in Colorado.

"What commonly happens is they'll just leave the plants right where
they find them," he said.

Corry, who represents people in marijuana cases across the state, said
this is likely the first time in Colorado that a medical-marijuana
grower was acquitted at trial and sued because plants and marijuana
weren't returned.

"You hear a lot about these cases being threatened," he said. "But to
my knowledge, none have gone the distance yet."

Young had been charged with cultivation of marijuana, possession with
intent to manufacture or distribute less than 5 pounds of marijuana,
and possession of more than 12 ounces of marijuana, according to the

After the acquittal, the sheriff's office returned some of the
property, but none of the plants or marijuana.

"Throughout December 2011, Mr. Young repeatedly attempted to enforce,
through counsel, the District Court order that required the Larimer
County Sheriff's Office to return property previously seized from his
residence, including 42 medical marijuana plants," according to the

The lawsuit cites language from the Colorado Constitution indicating
marijuana and paraphernalia seized by "state or local law enforcement
officials from a patient or primary caregiver in connection with the
claimed medical use of marijuana" must be returned on acquittal.

Young has no other criminal record more serious than a traffic
violation, according to Colorado court records. 
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