Cannabis Grower Suing After Police Destroyed Evidence In Civil Forfeiture Case

A Maryland-based cannabis grower is suing Smithfield police for allegedly lying about the legality of his operation and destroying seized cannabis that could have demonstrated its lawfulness, amidst claims of justice mishandling and evidence suppression.

Full story after the jump.

Maryland-based cannabis grower Joseph Ricci says in a new lawsuit that Smithfield police lied about being told by a confidential source that his cannabis grow exceeded the legal limits and then destroyed cannabis products seized from his grow that could have proved his operation was lawful, the Providence Journal reports.

The dispute stems from a 2017 incident where police searched a warehouse owned by Ricci and, according to police reports, ultimately seized 42 cannabis plants and a little more than a kilogram of bagged cannabis flower. At the time, Ricci was a registered medical cannabis patient and caregiver providing cannabis for two other patients, the report said.

Police initially filed drug charges against Ricci but those were dropped; however, officials have continued to pursue a civil forfeiture case that seeks to claim Ricci’s Smithfield warehouse.

However, it was recently revealed that police last year destroyed at least some of the cannabis seized from Ricci’s grow. In court papers filed on Friday, Ricci’s attorney, Megan Sheehan, called the case “a travesty of justice.”

Additionally, a federal judge noted during a pre-trial motion ruling last year that there was “strong” speculation that police had lied about hearing about the grow site from a confidential informant.

“Indeed, it is patently clear here that the destruction of this evidence was intentional or intended to suppress the truth. Between the intentional destruction of contested vital evidence and impermissible police fabrications, it certainly appears that the conduct in this case was done in bad faith.” — Sheehan, via the Providence Journal

“There is no reason the evidence should have been destroyed six years into a pending civil forfeiture case, and three years into this pending case, when at the heart of both the town and state’s arguments are that the destroyed evidence proved that Mr. Ricci was over the possession limits,” Sheehan said in the report.

Cannabis is legal for adult use in Maryland and, while the state’s legal market only launched midway through last year, licensed retailers sold over $700 million worth of cannabis products in 2023.

Get daily cannabis business news updates. Subscribe

Have an additional perspective to share? Send us a message to let us know, and if your comment is chosen by our editors it could be featured here.


Latest Cannabis News

View all news Get email updates

Create a profile View all categories

From Our Partners