Pot rip-off suit to proceed against Nevada County Sheriff’s Office | TheUnion.com

Pot rip-off suit to proceed against Nevada County Sheriff’s Office

Brian Chaplin is the founder of Medicine Box.
Submitted photo | Submitted photo

A Nevada County judge has declined to completely dismiss a civil suit filed by a marijuana grower against Nevada County and the Sheriff’s Office.

Superior Court Judge Thomas Anderson sided with plaintiff Brian Chaplin, ruling that he can continue pursuing his claim that he had a legal right to cultivate and possess marijuana that was seized by sheriff’s deputies. Anderson said last month that Chaplin also can continue with the argument that a search warrant executed by sheriff’s deputies was not valid and that he suffered a due process violation when they seized his marijuana.

Anderson did agree with a portion of Deputy County Counsel Jamie Hogenson’s argument and dismissed five of eight “causes of action,” or the facts that form the basis of Chaplin’s complaint, initially filed by attorney Joseph Elford in December 2018. Elford has indicated he would not file an amended complaint and instead would proceed with the case as it stands now, with allegations the county violated the state constitution and must provide “equitable relief” that can include restitution.

The parties are set to return to court March 9.

The basis for the civil suit stems from law enforcement’s response to a home invasion robbery of Chaplin’s property on Nov. 11, 2017. Chaplin has been growing medicinal cannabis on two properties in Nevada County since 2013. His company, Medicine Box, had its own collective but was also cultivating for The Caladrius Network.

Chaplin was not home at the time of the robbery on Brooks Road. Several workers at the site were ambushed by five men in tactical gear who held them at gunpoint and bound them with zip ties before stealing about 40 totes of marijuana cola on the stem and a GreenBroz trim machine, the complain alleges.

The workers freed themselves and called Chaplin, who in turn called 911. According to the complaint, Chaplin was met at the gate by a sheriff’s deputy, who was notified it was a medical grow. The Narcotics Task Force subsequently was called out and a search warrant for commercial marijuana cultivation was served, the complaint states. Sheriff’s deputies subsequently seized and destroyed the remainder of Chaplin’s cannabis crop, reportedly 170 plants and nearly 350 pounds of cola on the stem.

The Sheriff’s Office made no arrests in the robbery, but did forward a report to the District Attorney’s Office for potential criminal charges. No charges were ever filed against Chaplin, who later filed a claim against the county.

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at lizk@theunion.com.

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