Sheriff’s destruction of medical marijuana leads to lawsuit

January 6, 2010


A Los Osos woman has filed a lawsuit seeking $36,000 to replace six pounds of medical marijuana the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department seized from her home and then destroyed.

Before 1988, Kimberly Marshall worked in the foreclosure industry. Her life changed after she was given a blood transfusion contaminated with hepatitis.

Following a liver cancer diagnosis, doctors informed Marshall she had less than a year to live. Though currently in remission, daily nausea, a side effect of the cancer treatment, has caused her weight to drop to as low as 98 pounds.

In addition, a car accident left Marshall with two herniated discs, a fractured disc and a broken disc. Marshall has endured two back surgeries, has constant pain and for days at a time is bedridden. Unable to bend down to tie her shoes, she wears slip-ons.

The 46-year-old single parent refuses to take the eight Vicodin a day she is currently prescribed, selecting instead to use medical cannabis to kill the pain and reduce the nausea.

“They (doctors) want me to be on prescription drugs,” Marshall said. “I am a single parent and I can’t be high on drugs where I can’t think.”

On March 31, sheriff’s deputies searched Marshall’s house based on her son’s probation status following a teenage head butting incident. Even though Marshall was not at home during the search, deputies opened a locked cabinet in her room and discovered two containers of medical cannabis.

Marshall’s son informed deputies the medical cannibals they found belonged to his mother. After concerned neighbors phoned Marshall about the search, she immediately phoned the deputies at her home and told them the marijuana was hers.

During the call, Marshall said the deputy informed her that the sheriff’s department would return her medication after she provided them with the proper paperwork. Marshall provided the paperwork, as requested.

However, on August 3, Sheriff’s Deputy David Walker asked the district attorney’s office to prosecute Marshall for possession. He noted in his request that she had provided him with a physician’s statement that allowed her to possess up to six pounds of dried marijuana buds.

On August 28, Marshall also provided the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s office with documentation of her physician’s recommendation and state medical marijuana card. A few days later, the district attorney rejected the sheriff’s request for prosecution based on her medical defense.

On Sept. 2, sheriff officials asked the district attorney’s office to request an order to destroy Marshall’s cannabis, alleging that it was not medical marijuana.

“To the best of my knowledge, there has not been any request for return of medical marijuana for medical reasons …, each case of medical marijuana was reviewed and determined not to be for medical purposes,” said Sheriff’s Deputy Jerry McDaniel in his request.

On Oct. 9, San Luis Obispo Superior Court Judge Dodie Harmon ordered Marshall’s property to be disposed of or destroyed by the sheriff’s department. A week later, unaware of the order, Marshall’s attorney, Harold Meskick, filed a motion for return of his client’s medical marijuana.

In response to the request, County Counsel informed Meskick that the property had been destroyed.

“As far as I understand the factual background, the sheriff’s department has no record of your client’s possession of a physician’s statement,” said Deputy County Counsel Ann Duggan, the sheriff’s department’s legal advisor, in the letter to Meskick.

Duggan did not return requests for comment.

In the claim for damages, Marshall’s civil attorney, Louis Koory, said the sheriff’s department destroyed his client’s property while “acting under the color of California law.”

“The sheriff and the county were aware that under California law the Sheriff was compelled to return the claimant’s property in the absence of pending criminal action,” Koory said in the civil claim filed on Dec. 23.

In 2008, following a contempt of court action, the sheriff’s department was forced to return Craig Steffens’ medical cannabis to him. Steffens’ pot was seized after he was discovered smoking it outside the San Luis Obispo courthouse, even though he produced a state medical marijuana user card.

“These are personal attacks by the marijuana lobbyists because we have been the point of the spear,” said Rob Bryn, spokesman for the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department, prior to the lawsuit being filed. “If this defendant didn’t get their dope back, there is another reason.”

Bryn went on to question the legality of Marshall possessing six pounds of marijuana.

In response, Marshall said that she uses the medical marijuana in a number of ways that require a greater amount of the plant such as making butter from it, vaporizing the buds and making a poultice to treat muscle aches. Marshall, who goes through approximately six pounds of cannabis every 18 months, notes that buying marijuana in bulk is a cost saver.

“If they thought it was an excessive amount, she still had the right to prove she was in legal possession of that property,” Koory said. “They denied her that right.”



  1. zaphod says:

    But wait, there is more! State court ruling shoots down medical marijuana restrictions

    (0) 4 Total Votes - 2 up - 2 down
    • cheseburger says:

      zaphod you are on it! Informative link that backs up this article! Great job.

      (3) 5 Total Votes - 4 up - 1 down
  2. standup says:

    Why does our sheriff continue to not follow state law. He is a no good spouse abusing, hidden tape recording SOB. Why, as citizens should we continue to tolerate this POS. We should be able to revoke all of his retirement and pension funds for all the BS he has caused. Let’s see, his staff beat a man to death, his wife called authorities because of his abuse, he secretly tape recorded an employee that was totally illegal, he called in the feds on the Morro Bay dispensary when he could have handled the bad employee himself. HE should be the one in jail. I hope he burns in hell.

    (15) 25 Total Votes - 20 up - 5 down
  3. humptidumpti says:

    As difficult as it is for them to follow State Law in the Sheriff’s Dept, maybe they aren’t actually destroying the confiscated pot, but are stock piling it so when the State powers that be make it legal, they’ll have plenty on hand to sell and retire from the shameful jobs they have! Hmm, kinda makes you think doesn’t it?

    (1) 15 Total Votes - 8 up - 7 down
  4. zaphod says:

    These are personal attacks by the marijuana lobbyists because we have been the point of the spear,
    paranoia , delusions of grandeur, the sheriff’s spokesman must be getting the good stuff. :->

    (15) 23 Total Votes - 19 up - 4 down
  5. H.T. Schmerdtz says:

    Speaking strictly off the record: David Walker has a history of stepping over the line, and not just with medpot.

    (4) 16 Total Votes - 10 up - 6 down
  6. Booty JuJu says:

    Unions are a cancer slowly killing the host, a fact known and openly acknowledged by all save those who financially benefit from the disease. Yet nothing will change until the host is bled, the meat is picked from the bones, and the bones are sucked dry as dust, which is still years down the road. There is zero chance of reversing this downward death spiral. Zero. The public officials responsible for negotiating union contracts rely on union support for their jobs, at the very least depending on the unions to not mobilize against them. Quid pro quo. Same as it ever was. The only difference is that the level of corruption, greed, self-dealing, and dysfunction has reached such unprecedented levels that reality can no longer be denied by even the most willfully blind. Yet the unions couldn’t care less, as their sole and only function is to do precisely what they are doing. They are functioning perfectly.

    The fact that half of us feed from their hand while the other half is fully expected to kiss the hand of power is just tough titty, exactly what we deserve. When your government has no fear of you, this is what you get. And much worse, which is yet to come.

    The road ahead is clearly visible by simply looking at the American automotive industry (Government Motors). A perfect example of a perfectly functioning, union dominated environment. How’s Detroit doing these days?

    If you don’t want to believe that private industry could possibly represent our public future, that’s ok then. Simply take a look at Britain, a country which is just a few steps further down the exact same path we are skipping along. You will not like what you see.

    Reality is bad, and getting worse. There now only two US working classes: Those who have government jobs / pensions and those who don’t. Those who don’t have government jobs will be bled dry to feed the government employees and their bloated, obscene pensions.

    Here are 62 pages of retired CA teachers receiving $100k or more in pension bennies:

    Posting a list of prison employees and other public trough feeders in the same pension stratosphere would require a prescription for anti-nausea medication. You have no idea how broken the system has become.

    (-4) 20 Total Votes - 8 up - 12 down
    • zaphod says:

      Warning! booty’s link is a large pdf for dial up users, and also wildly off topic . anyone interested is encouraged to search the words”comprehensive financial reports” for peace of mind.

      (2) 6 Total Votes - 4 up - 2 down
  7. mkaney says:

    For those wondering what drives the sherriff’s department to do this…In 1984 the federal government altered the forfeiture laws so that local police could share in the bounty when cooperating with a federal drug investigation. They also then committed to local police that they (the feds) would agree to file paperwork for any drug investigation, even if they did not actually participate, so that the federal forfeiture law could be applied, and the feds and locals could share the seized assets, subverting any state forfeiture laws. Previously the state would take the assets and deal with it on the state level, often putting it in the general fund rather than giving it to the police agency. This is one of the issues at the heart of this situation. Our sheriff has clearly sought to benefit from the feds at the expense of the people they are supposed to serve. What can we do?

    I propose that we start a movement with the ultimate goal of forcing the city and county to break their respective law enforcement unions by recruiting non-union officers and pushing the union into a position during the next contract negotiation where the unionized officers will choose to strike. At that point, we ought to fire them all and continue recruiting additional non-union officers to replace them. Or are our hands still tied by binding arbitration?

    (1) 13 Total Votes - 7 up - 6 down
    • zaphod says:

      Calif. authorities told to return 60 lbs. of pot

      AP Features

      Jan 08, 2010 23:28 EST

      A Los Angeles judge has ordered that 60 pounds of pot confiscated by the California Highway Patrol during an arrest be returned to the defendant.

      Superior Court Judge William Sterling on Friday ordered the marijuana returned to Saguro Doven. The 33-year-old’s attorneys successfully argued that he had the legal right to transport it under medical marijuana guidelines issued by state Attorney General Jerry Brown.

      Doven’s attorney says his client was a member of a Venice-based medical marijuana collective.

      According to court records, a California Highway Patrol officer arrested Doven after discovering the marijuana during a traffic stop. Doven initially was charged with possession of marijuana for sale and transportation of the drug. The charges have been dropped.

      (11) 19 Total Votes - 15 up - 4 down
    • Bluebird says:

      Apples and oranges. The unions have nothing to do with the first paragraph – the confiscation of assets. I don’t think this is a union issue. The stance on marijuana is a top down management policy issue. If you follow policy, and there is a lot of unwritten policy, you probably get promotions. The Sheriff’s Office seems to have a visceral reaction to marijuana in the same way some people do to the gay marriage issue.

      (4) 8 Total Votes - 6 up - 2 down
      • Bluebird says:

        My reply was meant to respond to mkaney.

        (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
  8. hotdog says:

    Some of our cops and the DA are jokes. What lame bastards. Harassing the innocent while the guilty run amok without any attention. Our county is like a two bit third world country without any rule of law, thanks to some police, the sheriff goons, and the ‘suits’ (DA) sitting insulated in their fine offices downtown on our dime.

    (8) 22 Total Votes - 15 up - 7 down

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