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Medical Marijuana Forum Thursday; Roger Mentch on Trial Again
by Robert Norse ( rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com )
Tuesday Aug 15th, 2006 12:23 AM
Hemporium Medical Marijuana provider Roger Mentch is on trial again; Mentch's attorney, Ben Rice, will be speaking about medical marijuana on Thursday at the County Building
The Santa Cruz Sentinel (8-14) announced a medical marijuana discussion Thursday August 17 3-5 PM in the afternoon in room 525 (701 Ocean, County Building), hosted by the Santa Cruz County Law Library. See http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/archive/2006/August/14/local/stories/06local.htm .

The Sentinel reports that local Attorney Ben Rice and Allen Hopper, senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union Drug Reform Project. A question and answer period will follow.

Rice is currently defending Roger Mentsch, again on trial for selling medical marijuana. See the earlier stories:

Medical Marijuana Provider and In-Home Caregiver on Trial in Santa Cruz
http://santacruz.indymedia.org/newswire/display/16819/index.php

and

Roger Mentch will continue the Hemporium, LLC. a Professional Caregiving Service
http://santacruz.indymedia.org/newswire/display/17607/index.php

and

Roger Mentch Gets Leniency from Courts
http://santacruz.indymedia.org/feature/display/17103/index.php

I interviewed Mentch for Free Radio on last week. [Go to http://www.huffsantacruz.org/brb.html and download that 8-10-06 show; the 12-minute Mentch interview is about 100 minutes into the show]

Due to a pending trial involving more marijuana "felonies", Mentch felt he couldn't be as informative as he might be. Mentch was arrested and jailed in August of last year--again for cultivating and selling marijuana through his Hemporium. He reports he was held for 7 days in jail on a probation violation hold. Not satisfied, the Marijuana Enforcement Team then went to a second judge (Almquist) and got a search warrant, tore up his entire crop, and destroyed it. There was only enough, he said, to supply himself and his two patients.

Said Mentch, "they wiped my computer, seized my phone, and tried to destroy my life." He has kept a low profile on this case, hoping it would be dismissed. At a hearing last Wednesday (8-9), the D.A. declined to do that.

This arrest was made in spite of Judge Stevens finding in the previous case that Mentch had the right to operate the Hemporium, in spite of being on probation. Mentch told me he is still appealing his sentence from the trial mentioned above. He didn't feel comfortable saying whether the August arrest and his current trial have hampered his medical marijuana operation--but it seemed obvious to me that he felt it had.

His trial is scheduled for October, and Stevens is apparently allowing, this time, a caregiver defense. Which he refused him last time. I guess this shows "progress'.

Neither Andrea Tessler, Valorie Corall, Anita Henry, Lisa of Greenway, or other activists have spoken out about this case yet. I hope they do.

It would also be nice if the well-funded ACLU's Drug Policy Project (which is also represented at the Thursday forum) would take a little time off from their spiffy third floor offices at Pacific Ave. and Cathcart. Maybe they can condescend to walk down a few flights and walk a few blocks across theriver to address the local drug war here against medical and recreational users. A war that's being run by fake liberal D.A. Bob Lee.

Maybe the local ACLU,which meets regularly, and has Mike Rotkin on the Board of Directors, could venture a few words attacking this absurdity. The Drug War, we should remember, was the model for the War on Terror. I believe ACLU has raised mucho dinero over the last five years, balleyhooing its support for civil liberties. It's now time to put their mouths and their money to good use.

I need more information on this case, but it seems outrageous that D.A. Bob Lee is going after him again. If anyone has any info on this, I urge them to post it. It might also be helpful to call the D.A.'s office at 454-2400.

Mentch also noted wearily that the local media and Board of Supervisors have had no interest in what he regards as a clear violation of SB420, the state law activating Proposition 215.

I've put through a call to Councilmember and Council candidate Mike Rotkin--who, I believe, wrote a letter for Mentch for his last trial. Perhaps he can throw some light ont his matter.

I hope to be checking his court file shortly (which anyone can do at the Municipal/Superior Court window on the main floor of the County Building).

We do know that Bob Lee and Sheriff Robbins are still accepting out-of-county government money that fund a D.A.and a Sheriff's position (or half of one) specifically for the purpose of prosecuting (and persecuting) marijuana providers.

We need to act now on this issue--and not wait until Proposition K (or whatever the City's "lowest priority" marijuana Initiative is called) passes in November.

The Drug War is happening daily to innocent people, whose lives are being torn apart. The assholes in business suits who pose as Santa Cruz liberals and facilitate this activity need to be called on their shit, loudly and clearly.

Perhaps Ben Rice, Mentch's attorney, can give us a thumbnail sketch of just how many people are getting the axe from Bob Lee in our local courts. There is a question-and-answer period on Thursday, for those who want to attend.

Perhaps when folks leave this meeting--if they leave a little early--they can drop by Bob Lee's office on the 2nd floor and let him know what they think of the latest prosecution of Mentch.

Roger says his trial date is October 16 in Dept. 6, presumably at 9 AM.