Police officers in some medical marijuana states who once routinely seized illegal pot plants by ripping them out by their roots and stashing them away in musty evidence rooms to die are now thinking twice about the practice, reports the Associated Press. In several states, police are being sued by people who want their marijuana back after prosecutors chose not to charge them or they were acquitted. Some one-time suspects are asking for hundreds of thousands of dollars to replace dead plants.
Concerns over liability have prompted some agencies to stop rounding up the plants altogether or to collect a few samples and photograph the rest to use as evidence. “None of us really are sure what we’re supposed to do, and so you err on the side of caution,” said Mitch Barker of the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs. The change comes as the idea of marijuana as medicine clashes with police seizure procedure dating from an era when pot was considered a scourge that needed to be wiped out. “Law enforcement is going to have to think more carefully about what their procedures are and how those procedures might need to change in light of changes in the law,” said University of Denver law Prof. Sam Kamin.