Patient Sues Emeryville for Losing His Medical Marijuana
EMERYVILLE – James Blair, a spinal injury patient arrested on marijuana cultivation charges a year ago, marked the anniversary of the incident today by suing the City of Emeryville and the Emeryville Police Department. Assisted by the patient advocacy group, Americans for Safe Access (ASA), Blair is suing Emeryville Police Department (EPD) for damages resulting from his wrongful arrest and seizure as well as injunctive relief to force Emeryville to adopt sensible police policies with regard to medical marijuana.
James Blair had his medicine and cultivation equipment seized by EPD on December 9, 2003. Emeryville PD confiscated 30 full-grown plants and a considerable amount of cultivation equipment. Blair's suit claims that EPD violated his statutory right to cultivate marijuana for medical use.
After Blair's criminal case resulted in a dismissal of all his charges (cultivation and possession of marijuana for sale), a Superior Court Judge issued a court order on April 20, 2004, for the return of his property, including the medical marijuana. Soon after, Blair went with court order in hand to pick up his property from EPD, and was verbally denied it. Under threat of contempt of court, EPD finally agreed to return only some of Blair's property.
In a letter dated June 28, 2004, the Emeryville Police Chief states that due to 'a burglary of an off-site secured storage facility,' many of Blair's items are 'no longer in our possession.' The 'stolen' items include most of his cultivation equipment and the usable portion of his medical marijuana plants. On September 23, 2004, Blair was finally able to pick up the remainder of his property from EPD, confirming his worst fears that the majority of what was seized by police, including his medicine, had reportedly been stolen from the police.
Americans for Safe Access Legal Coordinator Kris Hermes noted that, 'Police have placed obstructions in Blair's way at every step -- beyond their original rights violations from the seizure and arrest -- mainly because there is no police policy with regard to medical marijuana.' ASA receives dozens of calls every month from California-legal medical marijuana patients whose marijuana is needlessly seized and illegally destroyed by police across the state. To illustrate the serious and widespread nature of this conduct, ASA issued 'Out of Compliance, A Report on Rights Violations by California Law Enforcement in Defiance of Medical Marijuana Laws.' This report identifies a 'culture of resistance' by law enforcement against enforcement of Proposition 215 as a widespread problem and conduct that cannot be defined by 'a few bad apples.' (To see the full report, go to http://www.safeaccessnow.org/article.php?id=1487
Assisted by the patient advocacy group, Americans for Safe Access (ASA), Blair is suing Emeryville Police Department (EPD) in Alameda County Superior Court in Oakland for damages resulting from his wrongful arrest and seizure as well as injunctive relief to force Emeryville to adopt sensible police policies with regard to medical marijuana. 'By helping to make police pay for their transgressions through lawsuits like Blair v. Emeryville PD,' said Blair after filing his lawsuit. 'Americans for Safe Access and I are going to force police agencies to adopt sensible police policies for enforcement of the Compassionate Use Act.'
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To read update on connected actions being taken across the state for Return of Property, see http://www.safeaccessnow.org/article.php?id=1624