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Cannabis Provider Pursuing Return Of Seized Property

POSTED May 3, 2011 8:55 p.m.

Ever since his felony marijuana possession and sales charges were dismissed, former proprietor of the Oakdale Natural Choice Collective, Addison DeMoura has been battling with the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department for the return of his property, including 35 pounds of marijuana, cash, and growing paraphernalia.

“(Sheriff) Adam Christianson does not recognize state law,” said DeMoura. “All he is doing is blocking access to my property.”

On July 31, 2007, DeMoura was arrested by the Oakdale Police Department in cooperation with the Stanislaus County Drug Enforcement Agency after a two-month investigation and search warrant at the Oakdale Natural Choice Collective. The arrest also included serving a search warrant at DeMoura’s home on Grand Oak Way.

DeMoura’s attorneys argued that police applied for the search warrant by intentionally omitting facts and references to medical marijuana. The omissions, the attorneys insisted, could have misled the judge who signed the warrant. One of those facts was that a confidential informant sent by agents to buy marijuana at Oakdale Natural Choice Collective had a valid medicinal cannabis card as required by California law.

In October 2009, Superior Court Judge Nancy Ashley dismissed the felony drug charges against DeMoura and his wife Jessica, pleasing legalized medicinal marijuana proponents. The judge said officers left out “very important facts” when writing the warrant to search the dispensary.

Nearly two years later, on April 14, 2011, when the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office agreed to release the seized property, DeMoura said he received only limited items and none of the $17,000 cash, computers, growing equipment or the 35 pounds of growing plants and harvested marijuana.

When contacted, the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Media Relations referred inquiries to the members of the Stanislaus County Drug Enforcement Agency. Calls and messages to the SCDEA have gone unreturned.

“The plants and cannabis have degraded by now,” DeMoura said. “Those were perishable items.”

DeMoura estimated the value of the seized marijuana at over $125,000.

In 1996, California voters passed Proposition 215 that allows for the medical use of marijuana for patients with a doctor’s recommendation. While California law now permits the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, federal law does not, thus putting law enforcement agencies in a quandary for the return of seized marijuana.

US Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has gone on record stating that the federal government would not devote great effort to prosecuting marijuana cases involving patients or dispensaries.

DeMoura pointed out he has a medicinal marijuana card and uses cannabis for ADHD to help him focus. Since the incident, DeMoura co-founded Steep Hill Labs in Oakland, a laboratory that tests and analyzes medicinal cannabis from over 230 local dispensaries.

DeMoura stated he has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department, the Oakdale Police Department, and individual members of both agencies for this incident.

“They came into my home pointing guns at all of us,” DeMoura said. “My son is in counseling because of all of that.”

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