Woman sues Wayne County Sheriff after $10 of pot leads to car being impounded

The Green Leaf dispensary is closed now, but last summer it's where a 50-year-old woman bought a $10 bag of weed.

She was pulled over around the corner and her car was seized. It cost her $1,200 to get it back. Her attorney filed a federal lawsuit, calling it a cash grab by police.

"You couldn't even get a pinch in a fingertip," said Chrystal, who declined to give her last name.

And for that, Chrystal had her car was towed, costing more than a thousand dollars to get it out of impound. The seizure is known as a civil forfeiture.

"Just a lot of things have been spiraling out of control since then," she said.

She made the buy without a medical marijuana card in July at the Green Leaf dispensary. In Detroit, marijuana is decriminalized. 

"The penalty needs to be proportionate to the crime," said attorney Barton Morris of Cannabis Legal Group. He and his client are now suing the office of Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon and the deputies that pulled Chrystal over.  

"It's policing for profit. It is a law enforcement tactic that is not permissible," Morris said.

He says deputies knew the Green Leaf was selling illegally so they waited nearby the dispensary for people just like his client.

"They were surveilling a place, knowing people are coming in purchasing marijuana, pulling them over, then taking their car," Morris said.

A spokesperson with the office of the Wayne County Sheriff tells FOX 2 they have not been served with the suit but says deputies can enforce forfeiture laws.

Chrystal is facing a misdemeanor. She would rather police in her neighborhood worry about more serious crimes.  

"On July 7, my house [was broken into], my side door was kicked in," she said. "They took everything. They [got me] for a $10 bag of weed but they have no idea who broke into my house."

Dispensaries are not able to legally sell to recreational users yet. It could take at least a year, so it is possible that this could keep happening even in cities like Detroit where marijuana is decriminalized.