Pubdate: Thu, 31 Oct 2013
Source: Appeal-Democrat (Marysville, CA)
Copyright: 2013 Appeal-Democrat
Author: Harold Kruger


Five members of a Browns Valley family have sued Yuba County, 
alleging their rights were violated when a sheriff's deputy 
confiscated most of their medical marijuana plants.

The lawsuit filed this month in Yuba County Superior Court seeks an 
injunction to stop future "unlawful seizures" and "reasonable 
compensation" for the lost plants.

"What I hope, a case like this will discourage the county or the 
Sheriff's Office from taking similar actions against other legal 
patients in the future," said Oakland attorney Robert Raich, who 
represents the family members. "It's sad that we need something like 
this to send a message to reluctant law enforcement about the need to 
comply with state law."

Raich said the family did not run a medical marijuana dispensary. The 
plants were grown for their personal use, he said.

Clifton Johnson, Clovis Hall, Brandon Hall, Jeremy Hall and Vonell 
Hobbs - three generations - alleged the deputy came to their home on 
Marysville Road in August 2012 and confiscated all but two of their 
plants, despite being shown "copies of medical cannabis 
recommendations" held by the plaintiffs.

"I think it was - and I'm just speculating - it was in the middle of 
the federal government's crackdown on medical cannabis," Raich said. 
"They felt they had the green light to attack people who were 
patients, but were fully legal under state law."

The suit alleges a county prosecutor, John Nash, developed "an 
underground policy" that "forbids private patient collectives, unless 
all members reside on the property where the cannabis is grown."

District Attorney Pat McGrath declined to discuss the case. He 
referred questions to the County Counsel's Office.

"We haven't been served with it," said Chief Deputy County Counsel 
John Vacek. "I don't know anything about it. It's been filed. It says 
what it says."

Sheriff Steve Durfor also said he had not been served with the suit 
and had no comment on pending litigation.

According to the suit, the deputy lacked "any probable cause or legal 
justification to seize or order the destruction of the cannabis 
plants at plaintiffs' residence."

Johnson and Jeremy Hall were arrested, the suit said, and jailed for 
five days. Charges against them were later dropped, the suit said. 
Clovis Hall "made a plea agreement and he accepted probation," the suit said.

"Taking somebody to jail, two people to jail, unjustifiably and 
leaving them for days is another element of damages," Raich said.
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