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Lawsuit: 'Marijuana' was a bag of sage

UPI News Service, 05/31/2011 

A Florida woman arrested on felony marijuana possession charges for a bag of what turned out to be sage is suing for wrongful arrest.

The lawsuit filed by Robin Brown, 49, of Hollywood, states a Broward County sheriff's deputy mistook the sage for marijuana while Brown was birdwatching in March 2009, and his field kit said the herb tested positive for marijuana, the Orlando Sentinel reported Tuesday.

The deputy sent the 50 grams of sage to the crime lab for a more definitive test, but the lawsuit says Assistant State Attorney Mark Horn ordered Brown's arrest before the test was performed and she was arrested in June 2009.

Brown was arrested at her place of business, Massage Envy in Weston.

"They arrested me in front of my customers, my boss, my co-workers," Brown said.

She said she was subjected to a body cavity search and a strip search during her overnight stay in jail.

The criminal charges were dropped after Brown's attorney discovered the herbs had not been tested and the lab was forced to conduct the test, which determined the sage was free of marijuana.

Brown's lawsuit, which accuses the Broward State Attorney's Office of negligence and malicious prosecution, was dismissed in January by Circuit Judge John Bowman, who said prosecutors receive immunity from lawsuits in the course of performing their duties. She said she is now appealing to the 4th District Court of Appeal to obtain a jury trial in the case.

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