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County and city officials have been put into a legal quandary

By Hempology | February 14, 2008

The Modesto Bee, CA
12 Feb 2008
Tim Moran


The owners of the closed medical marijuana dispensary in Oakdale have filed two claims against the city and Stanislaus County, asking for almost $2 million.

The dispensary, Oakdale Natural Choice Collective Inc., and the home of the owners were raided July 31 by members of the Stanislaus Drug Enforcement Agency and the Oakdale Police Department.  Another raid was conducted a day later on a Riverbank home that was used to grow marijuana for the patient collective.

Addison DeMoura, owner of the dispensary, was arrested along with several others associated with Oakdale Natural Choice Collective.

Charges haven’t been filed and the case is under review, said Assistant District Attorney Carol Shipley.

One of the claims was filed on behalf of DeMoura, his wife, Jessica DeMoura, their son, Tiger James DeMoura, and Oakdale Natural Choice Collective.  It keys on the raids at the collective business in downtown Oakdale and the DeMouras’ home in Oakdale.

The claim asks for compensation of $1,953,266 for lost revenue from the collective, medical marijuana seized, equipment seized or destroyed in the raid, damage to the home and business, and legal costs.

Most of the claim, $1.8 million, is listed under lost wages for Addison DeMoura, at $10,000 per day.  DeMoura said Monday that the $10,000 figure is the gross revenue for the business at the time it was closed.

The claim also asks for an unspecified sum for the trauma suffered by Tiger James DeMoura, 3, during the raid.  The boy refuses to return to the Oakdale home and lives with his mother and grandmother out of town, according to the claim.

The second claim refers to the raid on the Riverbank home used to grow marijuana and cites the loss of marijuana plants and growing equipment as well as damage to the house.  That claim is for $39,355.

The claim alleges that law enforcement officers wrote on the walls, spit tobacco on the floors throughout the house and urinated in the laundry room.

Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson called the allegations “ludicrous,” and said they were “unfounded and baseless.”

“I can guarantee you that didn’t occur,” Christianson said.  “I know my staff would never participate in that kind of activity.”

Oakdale Police Chief Marty West said he was surprised by the allegations.  “I find it hard to believe that officers would do that,” he said.

The claims generally are considered a prelude to a lawsuit.  Robert Raich, an Oakland attorney representing the DeMouras, said the claims had to be filed within six months of the incident to retain the right to file a lawsuit.  Whether a lawsuit is filed depends on the response and the outcome of any criminal charges, Raich said.

County and city officials have been put into a legal quandary because California law permits the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, but federal law does not.

Raich said the county has no authority to enforce federal laws, only state laws.  Shipley said the county is reviewing whether the dispensary violated the criteria for medical marijuana under California law.  “We aren’t trying to enforce federal law,” she said.

County Counsel Michael Krausnick said Monday that the DeMoura claims will be denied.  “We don’t believe it has any merit,” he said.

West said the city claims administrator would review the DeMoura claims and make a recommendation to the City Council.

Addison DeMoura said Monday that he is eager to go to trial on any criminal charges that may be filed.  He contends the business was a registered nonprofit and legal according to state law.

“I want them to prosecute this.  I want to go to trial.  They are subverting state law,” DeMoura said.

“They took away a lot from me.  I was just following state and county laws.”

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