Lake County Agrees to Pay Medical Marijuana Patients $250,000 and Change Its Policy to Prevent Warrantless Raids

August 17, 2017 - After years of litigation in federal court and a scathing injunction issued against the County of Lake, the County fulfilled its court-ordered obligation to abide by the Constitution. The federal civil action arose from the County’s harassment of its own citizens through warrantless searches and seizures of their property. In particular, on August 1, 2014, the County’s agents destroyed the medicine of approximately thirty medical marijuana patients in Clearlake Oaks, California without a warrant or probable cause. The County has now settled the case for $250,000 and a promise to abide by the Constitution in the future.

According to one plaintiff, Carl Ray Harris, a two-time All-American football player from Fresno State, “They came when I was not home. They broke my lock, scaled my fence, only to destroy my medicine. Luckily for me (and them), I was not at home; otherwise, they likely would have shot me.”

According to another plaintiff, Jonathan Holt, a teacher’s aid for special-needs students, “They were rude and offensive.” And, according to Nina Faye Sikes, another elderly patient, who was raided along with her now-deceased husband Elvin, “They wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. I could only do my best to keep Elvin from suffering a heart attack. Unlike them, Elvin was a great man, and always will be.”

The plaintiffs in this action were represented by San Francisco based attorney, Joe Elford, who is a medical marijuana patient himself. Elford said, ”What these cops did was a blatant violation of the constitutional rights of us all. I do not regret holding the County responsible for its actions. As always, the price of freedom is vigilance.”

The cost to the County for its unconstitutional behavior is not fully determined, since we do not know how much they paid for their own attorneys. All that the plaintiffs know is that the County has paid them $250,000 and has agreed to abide by the Constitution in the future. “This,” according to Elford, “has been a good week for medical marijuana patients.”

In other news, attorney Eric Berg and Associates, with offices in Redding & Chico, reports that they successfully argued for the suppression of illegally obtained evidence in the form of over 125 marijuana plants after exposing inconsistent statements and credibility issues with law enforcement agents, who were able to get past a locked gate and search a yard without a warrant. After the evidence was suppressed, the case was dismissed on August 11.

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