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Young v. Larimer County Sheriff's Office

Court of Appeals of Colorado, Third Division

September 11, 2014

Kaleb Young, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Larimer County Sheriff's Office, a local government entity; Justin Smith, in his official and individual capacity as Larimer County Sheriff; and Detective Pete Mesecher, in his official and individual capacity, Defendants-Appellees

Larimer County District Court No. 12CV1997. Honorable Dave Williams, Judge.

Corry & Associates, Robert J. Corry, Jr., Matthew W. Buck, Denver, Colorado; Simpson Defense Firm, LLC, Travis B. Simpson, Louisville, Colorado, for Plaintiff-Appellant.

Jeannine S. Haag, County Attorney, William G. Ressue, Deputy County Attorney, Fort Collins, Colorado, for Defendants-Appellees.

Gabriel and Miller, JJ., concur.

OPINION

WEBB, JUDGE

Page 940

[¶1] This case presents another novel question that arises from the conflict between Colorado law and federal law concerning marijuana -- does 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (2012) provide a remedy for state action that violates a right created by the Medical Marijuana Amendment, article XVIII, section 14 of the Colorado Constitution (MMA)? Because federal law criminalizes possession of marijuana, we conclude that such a claim is not cognizable under section 1983.[1] We reject the other claims of plaintiff, Kaleb Young. Therefore, we affirm the summary judgment entered in favor of defendants, Larimer County Sheriff's Office, and Pete Mesecher and Justin Smith, both individually and in their official capacities.

I. Background

[¶2] Young leased property where he grew marijuana plants and distributed marijuana for medical use under the MMA. After obtaining search warrants, sheriff's deputies entered Young's property and seized forty-two marijuana plants by cutting them off just above the roots. This action killed the plants.

[¶3] Young was charged with cultivation of marijuana, possession with intent to manufacture or distribute marijuana, and possession of more than twelve ounces of marijuana. The plants that had been seized were used as evidence. Still, the jury acquitted him of all charges based on the affirmative defense of medical use of marijuana by a person suffering from a debilitating medical condition under section 14(4)(b) of the MMA.

[¶4] Based on the verdict and section 14(2)(e) of the MMA, the court ordered all seized property, including the plants, returned to Young. After the dead plants were returned, Young brought this action for damages on the basis that the deputies had killed the plants.

II. Standard of Review

[¶5] An appellate court reviews a summary judgment de novo. Shelter Mut. Ins. Co. v. Mid--Century Ins. Co.,

Page 941

246 P.3d 651, 657 (Colo. 2011). A summary judgment will be upheld only where the record does not show any genuine issue of material fact. Natural Energy Res. Co. v. Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy Dist., 142 P.3d 1265, 1276 (Colo. 2006). On review, the appellate court -- like the trial court -- ...


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