New Times / News
The following articles were printed from New Times [newtimesslo.com] - Volume 24, Issue 30
County gets cheap on destroyed pot
By MATT FOUNTAIN
In a historical move, the county offered a $15,000 monetary settlement to Kimberley Marshall, a qualified medical marijuana patient whose medicine was seized a year ago and subsequently destroyed by the SLO County Sheriff’s Department.
Marshall, 46, of Los Osos, rejected the offer. Instead, according to her attorney, Lou Koory, Marshall is seeking the full appraised amount.
“They offered her about a third of what the pot cost Ms. Marshall,” Koory said. “So, at this point, we’re still in the negotiation phase.”
In determining the monetary amount, Koory consulted Chris Conrad, a Cerrito-based, court-qualified cannabis expert. According to a letter from Conrad to the court, he has testified as a qualified expert witness in more than 100 cases in both state and federal court.
Because the District Attorney’s office never filed criminal charges against Marshall, there was limited discovery to work with, Koory said, including photo documentation to confirm the quality. Conrad calculated the total cost of Marshall’s marijuana at $44,160—the retail value of six pounds of high-grade marijuana when purchased from a licensed collective.
Conrad stated in his letter that he calculated the middle-value between $50 and $65 for an eighth of an ounce, which comes out to $7,360 per pound.
If successful, Marshall would become the first person in the history of the county to be awarded monetary damages for seized pot.
As precedent for her claim, Koory cites a July 2009 landmark ruling in Butte County, which determined a qualified medical marijuana patient may continue an action for damages against the county for the unlawful seizure of medical marijuana plants.
Sheriff’s deputies entered Marshall’s home in March 2009, acting on a probation-related warrantless search in connection with Marshall’s son. During the course of the search, deputies came upon Marshall’s 18-month supply, which the claim states was secured in her locked closet.
Marshall, who was not home at the time, later showed the proper paperwork to deputies, and the D.A.’s office rejected the criminal case. Then, for whatever reason, the Sheriff’s Department requested the D.A. obtain an order for the destruction of the marijuana, as it was reportedly not deemed to be for medical purposes.
Koory has told New Times he has no reason to believe the destruction of Marshall’s property was in any way contemptuous—that it may have been a simple lack of communication between the two agencies.
Marshall, a liver cancer survivor, suffers from multiple afflictions, including daily chronic pain after two surgeries for lumbar and other injuries, according to the claim filed Dec. 23.