SACRAMENTO — In Dobbins, an hour north of Marysville, Justin Green owns 44 acres of property.
Green attended a code enforcement abatement hearing before the Yuba County Board of Supervisors at which he promised to remove excess marijuana plants on the property.
“In fact was commended by one of the supervisors for the steps he had taken to come into compliance with them,” said Green’s attorney, Sam Berns.
Berns says that he waited for a scheduled reinspection but inspectors did not show up on two separate occasions. Instead, code enforcement arrived with sheriff’s deputies and fire personnel only after Green left.
“They showed up a few hours later with a search warrant, ransacked his property to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Berns told FOX40.
The lawsuit says they tore down structures and took electrical cabling, generators and fans that he used for a separate business, a dispensary in midtown Sacramento. The total loss was estimated to be $700,000.
In the year since the incident, the suit says Yuba County has not returned the equipment nor reimbursed Green for destroying his property.
Yuba County does not comment on cases that are under litigation but a warrant issued to code enforcement by a judge referenced two structures on the property that were built without a permit.
A Google Earth image shows two 100- by 30-foot greenhouses on the property that apparently took two days to demolish. Green alleges in the suit that he was going through the permitting process and was told by that the Board of Supervisors and code enforcement that no action would be taken if he took care of the pot plant issue.
Berns said that they are not contesting the right of local governments to regulate the growing of marijuana.
“We’re not saying he should have had the right to have any cannabis plants,” Berns said. “What we’re saying is he was promised a result and those actions were contrary to what he was told and contrary to what they are allowed to do under state, federal and local law.”
Berns said his client should not be punished for being cooperative with county officials.
Now that the recreational use of marijuana is the law, this case might have been handled differently.
A civil case like this could take years in federal court but that does not mean some sort of settlement could happen before a trial date is set.