Judge: Pot Plants Must Be Returned To Couple

November 27, 2007

Mike Hooker, CBS4 News (CO)

A couple from Fort Collins is threatening to file a lawsuit if police don't return their marijuana plants that they seized during a raid alive. Police say there's no way they'll return them.

A judge ruled Monday that the 39 marijuana plants were seized illegally more than 15 months ago. But Wednesday, the Fort Collins city attorney filed a motion asking the judge to reconsider, so returning the pot is now on hold.

The police spokeswoman said the plants are in evidence and they're dead, but the couple's attorney said police are required to keep the plants alive.

"The law cannot be more clear, the Colorado constitution clearly says that any marijuana plants seized in association with the claimed used of medical marijuana need to be unharmed by law enforcement agents," said Brian Vincente, Executive Director of Sensible Colorado. "Essentially, when police confiscate marijuana designated for medical use, they need not to destroy those plants. In fact, they need to upkeep those plants so they don't become damaged."

Sensible Colorado advocates for people who use marijuana for medicinal purposes. Vincente said using government figures, the plants are worth more than a $100,000.

"If the plants are dead, we will take legal action against the city," Vincente said. "We feel they have violated the constitution and we feel that our patients should be compensated for their property which was taken."

Police referred questions about the drug task and the seized marijuana plants to the city attorney. He said he couldn't comment on the case since it's in litigation.

Now both sides are waiting to see if the judge changes his mind about ordering the now dead pot plants returned to their legal owners.

The couple with the marijuana, James and Lisa Masters, was not licensed as medical marijuana caregivers when police searched their home, but earlier this year a judge found they did qualify for caregiver status and threw out criminal charges against them.

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