Cops shell out $3,100 after destroying completely legal medical marijuana

Here’s some good news for the relative few who have medical marijuana licenses. Police in Albuquerque, New Mexico, paid a woman $3,100 for seizing and destroying her prescription stash back in August 2010.

According Toni Armijo, police were called to her house because her friends feared she was going to commit suicide. She wasn’t home, but cops spotted her pot in a backyard grow room, entered and took the plants away.

“Everything was gone. There was dirt strewn here, all the way across my kitchen. It was complete destruction,” Armijo told local ABC affiliate KOAT. Officers later returned her medical marijuana, legal in New Mexico since 2007, but it had already been destroyed, so what was the point?

“I feel like they trampled over my rights,” Armijo said.

KOAT points out that the Plain View Doctrine allows cops to confiscate contraband if it is, well, in plain view, no warrant required. If cops thought Armijo’s crops were illegal, then their action is within the letter of the law. But legal or not, the cops really should have waited until they had all the facts before taking it upon themselves to take a private citizen’s pot. It is just common courtesy.

City Risk Manager Peter Ennen confirmed the city of Albuquerque gave Armijo $3,100 as compensation, a potential admission of wrongdoing should Armijo file a lawsuit, which she’s considering. She said she finally came forward so other medical marijuana users will have a precedent to cite. Those of you without a prescription or who live in places where herbal elixirs remain illegal, if a cop takes your green, they won’t be paying for it. Yet.

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