A Massachusetts couple, which recently had their personal marijuana crop seized during a warrantless raid, has filed a lawsuit against the State Police in hopes of forcing the law enforcement agency to return the plants and pay damages, according to a report from the Springfield Republican.
Patti Scutari and Francesco "Apollo" Compagnone filed the complaint earlier this week, arguing that they were in full compliance with the state’s 2012 medical marijuana law when a legion of State Police officers and the National Guard swooped in for a raid on their property this past September.
In addition to requesting the confiscated cannabis plants be returned, the couple is also seeking financial compensation.
The couple’s attorney, Marvin Cable, said both Scutari and Compagnone are registered medical marijuana patients, and in no way should they have been the targets of a raid -- especially not without a search warrant.
"They came onto lawful citizens' land and seized property with no probable cause, no search warrant, no satisfactory exception to the search warrant requirement," Cable said in a statement. "This is what our nation's founders were seeking to avoid. This case is not just about medical marijuana, its about the government not respecting important civil rights."
There is plenty of reason to believe that Scutari and Compagnone have a fighting chance at winning the lawsuit.
That is because patients in medical marijuana states all across the nation have been winning cases against police agencies responsible for seizing and destroying their pot plants. A 2014 report from the Associated Press suggests that, in some cases, these people are asking courts to grant them compensation in upwards of millions of dollars.
It is for this reason that many police organizations are being forced to revamp their methods for dealing with marijuana grows operations in states that have legalized the leaf for medicinal use. So far, 26 jurisdictions have legalized for this purpose, with several more expected to join the growing list in the upcoming November election.
"Law enforcement is going to have to think more carefully about what their procedures are and how those procedures might need to change in light of changes in the law," said Sam Kamin, a law professor at the University of Denver.
Voters in Massachusetts will get to decide in the coming weeks whether to establish a taxed and regulated cannabis market similar to what is currently underway in Colorado. If this happens, there will no longer be a need for the cannabis eradication program responsible for these types of raids.
Last year, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration gave Massachusetts $75,000 to find and destroy 3,138 cannabis plants.