Officials Pay Large Settlement in Marijuana Lawsuit

Based on a recent OC Register story, the city of Seal Beach settled a lawsuit filed against the police department in which an Orange County resident alleged that the Seal Beach Police Department unlawfully confiscated 40 to 50 medical marijuana plants and coerced him into becoming a drug informant. The City Manager said that the lawsuit was settled for $32,500.

The man says that he legally grew and distributed medical marijuana under California state law. Seal Beach police officers entered his apartment and took photographs of his marijuana plants, despite his having produced documentation showing that he possessed the plants legally. The police department later turned the evidence over to federal authorities.

The man was arrested under federal drug laws and he alleged that he was forced to become a drug informant for the department, providing information about other marijuana providers and setting up drug deals. In spite of the settlement, the police department contends that the plaintiff volunteered to become an informant to avoid federal drug charges; and that he was an informant for the DEA and not for the Seal Beach Police Department.

This incident draws attention to the dilemma of competing federal and state jurisdictions for marijuana charges. California and 13 other states have passed laws legalizing the growth, distribution and use of marijuana for medical purposes. However, existing federal law implements a wholesale ban on the drug. Such legal inconsistencies in the drug laws raise questions about which authority, state or federal, has the final say.

Drug-related crimes in Orange County and throughout the state of California remain a controversial and a constantly evolving body of law. It is imperative that anyone accused of a drug crime in Orange County seeks an experienced Orange County drug crime defense attorney. If you have been accused of a marijuana or other drug related offense, call the attorneys of Sitkoff & Hanrahan at 866-430-8383 for a free and comprehensive drug case consultation.


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