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Puna residents sue for return of 52 pot plants


HILO >> Five Puna residents are suing Hawaii County and the police to get their confiscated marijuana plants back.

Two lawsuits seek the return of dozens of marijuana plants or more than $250,000 in compensation.

The plaintiffs say police seized the plants during a 2012 raid at the Fern Acres subdivision in Mountain View, even though the plaintiffs had valid medical marijuana cards and permission to grow the plants on the property.

One lawsuit filed last month involves 28 plants, and the other filed last week involves 24 plants. The lawsuits ask for the plants to be returned, or for $5,000 per plant.

Taking the plants was “grossly unjustified, wrongful and improper,” according to the lawsuit on behalf of Bradley Snow, Frank Locke, Tamara Brooke and Marsha Swanson.

There were no police reports about the confiscated plants and there was no mention of the incident on the Hawaii Police Department’s June 14, 2012, bulletin, Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported Tuesday.

A group of officers showed up “suddenly, without prior notice, invitation or warrant, entered upon plaintiff’s property, under color of law, for what (an officer) announced as a ‘compliance check,'” said the second lawsuit by Michael Doyle Ruggles.

“You can’t just take people’s property,” Ruggles said. “You’ve got a right to privacy and your property in your home.”

A police spokeswoman said the department doesn’t discuss pending litigation. The county didn’t immediately comment.

“These folks all had medical marijuana cards and permission to grow that number of plants the property, and the police officers completely disregarded their certificates,” said attorney Ivan Van Leer.

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