Our friends at the Inverse Condemnation blog recently reported on an interesting takings case involving medical marijuana. In Young v. Larimer County Sheriff's Office, No. 13CA1338 (Sep. 11, 2014), the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the county sheriff after the sheriff seized forty-two marijuana plants of Mr. Young's by cutting them off just above the roots. Mr. Young claimed that the plants were “medicine” under the Colorado medical marijuana statute and not evidence of a crime as argued by the sheriff. Consequently, he argued that the destruction of the plants was a taking under the state and federal constitutions and he was due just compensation.
Both the trial court and the court of appeals agreed there was no unconstitutional taking under the U.S. Constitution because Mr. Young’s marijuana plants were not “property” deserving of protection, particularly where marijuana is still illegal under federal law.
As for Mr. Young's state takings claim, the court first determined the alleged taking (i.e., destruction of the plants) was not a taking because it was the seizure of evidence for a criminal prosecution. The court noted that an exercise of the police power cannot be a taking, relying on previous takings cases.
You can read more about this case here.