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Larimer County Will Defend Sheriff's Office In Suit Over Destroyed Marijuana

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Larimer County commissioners on Tuesday authorized the county attorney's office to defend the sheriff's department and one of its deputies against a lawsuit brought by a medical marijuana caregiver whose product was destroyed.

Commissioners also authorized the county to pay any judgment that might be rendered if the plaintiff, Kaleb Young, prevails. He is seeking $210,000 in damages — $5,000 for each of the 42 marijuana plants that the sheriff's department seized from his Wellington residence in September 2010.

"His claim is that the deputy and the sheriff's office did not maintain his marijuana plants, and as a result, they died," said Jeanine Haag, deputy county attorney. "He's seeking recompense for the value of those plants. We don't have any reason to believe that (Deputy Pete) Mesecher or the sheriff's office was acting inappropriately outside the scope of their duties."

Deputies raided Young's home and seized plants, raw marijuana and cultivation equipment. Young contends he showed deputies documentation that he was growing the plants legally for medical marijuana patients, according to court documents.

As a result of the raid, Young was 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. He was acquitted of all charges in a November 2011 trial. After Young's acquittal, some of his property was returned, but not the plants or the raw marijuana.

In a conversation on a separate topic Monday, Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith told commissioners that returning seized marijuana poses a legal quandary for his department, because doing so could be regarded as distribution, which is illegal under federal law.

Young's suit asserts that under the amendment to the Colorado Constitution that legalized medical marijuana, the sheriff's department had an obligation to return his plants to him while the criminal case against him was pending, or to preserve the plants so they could be returned to him intact in the event of acquittal.

The lawsuit is pending in 8th Judicial District Court.


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Source: coloradoan.com
Author: Patrick Malone
Contact: Customer Service | The Coloradoan | coloradoan.com
Website: http://www.coloradoan.com/article/2...heriff-s-office-suit-over-destroyed-marijuana
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