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Elders Tell Their Side of the Marijuana Raid
The following is a reprint of an e-mail I received from Pebbles today. She can be reached directly at: Pebbles Trippet Secretary, Mendocino Medical Marijuana Advisory Board
There are an estimated 200,000 qualified cannabis patients in California with thousands of arrests and prosecutions over the past 12 years as we struggle to get law enforcement off our backs and into a court of law.
In Mendocino County, a centerpiece for the tug-of-war now playing itself out, hundreds of marijuana cases, medical and non-medical alike, have been thrown in together and prosecuted as criminal. After Sheriff Tony Craver retired and DA Norm Vroman died, the respectful "working relationship" with the patient community that both men had cultivated while in office ended. They achieved the respect of their constituents and the medical marijuana community for implementing the new law with fair-minded written guidelines arrived at with input from patients.
But since interim Sheriff Kevin Broin took over in 2006 followed by Sheriff Tom Allman in 2007 with Meredith Lintott as DA, we have regrettably returned to the prohibitionist mode of adversarial relations, where no one seems to be working together, where cops have become robbers and patients' rights are treated as a criminal nuisance.
Broin came and went but in that year, he mopped up the area pretty good, leaving hundreds of marijuana cases in his wake without regard to medical use. Sheriff Tom Allman has pretty much followed in Broin's footsteps with no accountability for his broken promises. Relative to the Craver-Vroman era, we estimate that medical marijuana arrests and prosecutions have increased 10-fold. Guestimates are that 20 prosecutions in that era amounts to as many as 200 now. This is clogging the Mendocino County courts with medical innocents along with the "guilty".
Many of these wrong-headed prosecutions, such as the cases of Laura Hamburg and Angie Pinches, both young women, are thrown out on motions to dismiss and bogus search warrants with judges angrily denouncing rogue police practices, such as "3am sneak and peek" and "intentional omission of material fact".
But most medical marijuana cases go through a harsh criminal justice process--where justice consists of intimidation, coercion, asset forfeiture, over-charging, seizure of kids and other threats where it hurts most--that brings many innocent people to their knees accepting some sort of guilt when what they did was legal--an innocent medical act.
Whereas many previous bogus cases have been brought against young people who are able to sustain a court fight, such as Laura Hamburg, there is a trend toward targeting the elderly as the most vulnerable of the low-hanging fruit--the poor, the ill and the elderly.
For example, the 90-year-old couple, Lester ("Smitty") and Mary Smith--who were raided at their Philo home last week (9.24.08) with law enforcement seizing their life savings and all their plants in the process--are qualified patients with doctors' approvals and did nothing wrong.
Smitty said, "I wasn't worried a bit. I knew it was legal. I planted six plants two years in a row and this year, I planted 17 for me and Mary. That's not too many is it? My wife is very ill, confined to a wheelchair or recliner. She likes the bud tea. She has severe arthritis. It makes it easier for her to get around. She walks easier; she can walk to the bathroom even by herself."
Smitty has health issues too. "I have heart problems, blood clots, stomach cramps, emphysema, bad hips. I've had a heart attack. I sometimes get strong chest pains and can't breathe right. I take nitroglycerine. That brings me back. My doctors want me to take more x-rays here locally but that would be a big expense. Usually, I go to the Veterans Hospital and they pay for it."
Mary Smith was forced to stay in the house by herself during the 5-hour raid while additional warrants for an adjoining parcel were telephoned in and delivered, allowing sheriff's deputies to enter all the residences.
The elderly Smiths were not arrested or charged with a crime, because there was none. Sheriff's deputies were apparently more interested in robbery than arrest (excuse my french). They seized the two things that mattered most to the ill couple--their medicine, all 17 plants, leaving nothing--and their life savings, $52,000 from Mary Smith's inheritance and $29,000 in cashed in CDs.
"As soon as the bail-out hit, I cashed in my CDs and put the money in a safe in my house. I did not sell pot to get it. But turns out my money was not safe. They stormed in here and turned our world upside down. I thought I was legal."
Armed with records and receipts and Keith Faulder as his attorney (707-548-7976), Smitty is confident of getting his money back, months up the road. Is this the kind of law enforcement treatment elderly patients must look forward to in their waning years? Stay tuned for net week's elder raid in Willits.
TO HEAR PEBBLES ON THE RADIO:
Pebbles also gives radio updates periodically to Free Radio Santa Cruz (http://www.freakradio.org) which are archived at http://www.huffsantacruz.org . Scroll down to "New: Descriptions of Bathrobespierre's Broadsides radio shows from August 2005", click on that link, search for "Pebbles". If the show doesn't have a link, note its date, and go back to the prior screen. Then click on "Listen to Bathrobespierre's Broadsides, now archived online!", find the relevant show and click on "Download". Sorry for the complex sounding procedure.