Lake County Medical Marijuana Patients Seek More Than $600,000 in Monetary Damages for Warrantless Raids

Patients demand compensation for constitutional rights violations by local law enforcement

Lakeport, CA – (ENEWSPF)—October 30, 2014. Nine medical marijuana patients from Lake County filed tort claims today for a total of $621,000 in monetary damages in a widely-watched ongoing legal struggle between growers and county officials. Two weeks ago, on October 15th, U.S. District Court Judge Thelton Henderson granted a preliminary injunction preventing Lake County authorities from continuing warrantless raids.

The claimants, who were all raided over the past several weeks, include 60-year-old patient Mona Allen who was growing six mature plants, 66-year-old patient Carl Ray Harris who was growing nine plants, and 70-year-old patient Nina Faye Sikes who, together with her elderly husband, were growing 14 immature plants. Lake County law enforcement broke through several gates, entered the property of qualified patients without consent, and seized their medical marijuana without a warrant, consent, or any advance notice.

The claimants are seeking monetary damages from Lake County ranging from $59,000-$125,000 to compensate them for property that was unlawfully destroyed. The claimants, who accuse the Lake County Sheriff’s Office of conducting paramilitary-style raids without warrants or proper abatement notices required by law, are also seeking punitive damages.

“This case has made clear that law enforcement, when given such unbridled discretion, will use it to deprive citizens of their constitutional rights,” said Joe Elford, a San Francisco-based lawyer who filed the claims on behalf of the unlawfully raided county residents. “And, when they do so, people whose rights have been violated deserve to be made whole for having to endure that abuse of authority,” continued Elford. “The county is not above the law, and it has an obligation to respect people’s constitutional rights when carrying out local policy or pay the consequences.”

The tort claims are connected to a lawsuit filed earlier this year in San Francisco federal court, challenging Lake County’s enforcement of Measure N, an ordinance that restricts medical marijuana cultivation in the county. Measure N was narrowly adopted in June with less than 52 percent of the vote, after the county’s aggressive enforcement practices were successfully challenged in August 2012. A preliminary injunction was also granted in that case, which was brought by medical marijuana patient Don Merrill and others who feared the violation of their constitutional due process rights in much the same way the current plaintiffs/claimants were.

More information:
Tort claims for nine raided medical marijuana patients: https://www.dropbox.com/s/g5dcxdy74e8al75/Lake_County_Tort_Claims.pdf

Federal court ruling on medical marijuana: https://www.dropbox.com/l/gn2wGtGh1suytmGEw6ZQxs