CRIME
06/20/2014 07:14 pm ET Updated Jun 20, 2014

Medical Marijuana Patients File Lawsuits To Get Back Pot Plants From Police

A group of medical marijuana patients on the Big Island of Hawaii are suing to get back pot plants that were allegedly seized wrongfully by police.

Two lawsuits have been filed against local police and Hawaii County officials claiming authorities confiscated a total of 52 plants in a June 2012 raid. The plaintiffs want compensation of $260,000, or $5,000 for each plant, if they don't get the plants, according to the Hawaii Tribune-Herald.

Attorney Ivan Van Leer filed one suit last month on behalf of Bradley Snow and three others who grew weed on his property, the Associated Press reported. The other suit was filed on June 5 by Michael Doyle Ruggles and four other people growing pot on Ruggles' properties. Ruggles and Snow live within one mile of each other in the same subdivision.

"The last thing sick people need is to have the federal government come into their lives and prevent them from using the medicine that is keeping them alive," Ruggles said to The Huffington Post.

Under Hawaii state law, medical marijuana cardholders or their designated caregivers are legally allowed to have up to seven plants.

The plaintiffs say they all had current medical marijuana cards at the time of the raid. One plaintiff, Marsha Swanson lived off-site, but listed Snow as her designated caregiver.

"The police officers completely disregarded their certificates,” Van Leer said.

Both lawsuits allege police officers entered the properties "suddenly, without prior notice" or invitation to perform a "compliance check."

"The police who raided my house that day never left a receipt or filed a report," Ruggles told The Huffington Post. "The cannabis they stole never made it to an evidence locker."

No one was arrested as part of the raid. There were also no mentions of a raid in police bulletins from that date, according to the Hawaii Tribune-Herald, but it was discovered the state's Narcotics Enforcement Division conducted sweeps and seizures on June 14, 2012.

A police spokeswoman would not speak on any pending litigations, according to the Associated Press.

Ruggles told HuffPost the 2012 raid left him with only one plant and it took more than six months to regrow the plants he lost. During that time, the patients who were dependent on his plants were left to "suffer in silence" and shortly after the seizure, one patient succumbed to her skin cancer.

HuffPost

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