California, Mendocino

Medical marijuana by county.

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California, Mendocino

Postby palmspringsbum » Fri Jun 30, 2006 12:47 pm

The Willits News wrote:COMMET saddles up to battle illegal pot operations

By David Courtland/TWN Staff Writer

<img class=postimg src=bin/willits.jpg align=right>Mendocino County deputies assigned to battling illegal marijuana growers say criminals are launching their busy season, the summer marijuana production cycle.

"Because of the late rains we've got a late start," Sgt. Rusty Noe said on June 9. "Right now is when they're moving into property and getting set up."

Growers are starting to trespass onto federal and private lands to plant large crops, prompting the complaints Noe and Deputy Butch Gupta investigate.

"We're starting to see marijuana popping up in forest lands, timber lands and large private parcels," said Noe, who runs the two-man County of Mendocino Marijuana Eradication Team.

Gupta said he and Noe have already shut down 15 grow sites seven indoor, eight outdoor this year during the off-season.

But this summer is expected to be busier than last year's, when the team closed 405 growth sites, and Gupta says they didn't even scratch the surface.

"I had probably 600 to 800 sites identified that we just didn't have the time to deal with," said Gupta, who says he expects even greater numbers this year.

A greater number of grow sites are appearing as more opportunists jump on the bandwagon, with everyone from Hell's Angels to Latino and Asian gangs joining in.

"We see more violence, more organization, more concealment," with at least one exchange of gunfire between California growers and deputies each year for the last three years, said Noe.

With the gangs come illegal aliens smuggled in specifically to grow and harvest the marijuana crops.

"Over the years I've had everything from Vietnamese to a Bhuddist monk," said Noe, who has been a narcotics officer since 1991, "but it's primarily Mexican nationals."

Noe and Gupta, who has been working narcotics cases off and on since 1992, say one of the more unsettling changes they've seen in recent years is grower's willingness to resort to violence.

"These guys are definitely getting more and more armed," said Noe. "We seized 50 firearms last year related to marijuana growth."

But the biggest change the team has seen in recent years has been the shift in priorities caused by the rise of the medical marijuana movement.

Although Noe says all marijuana is a nuisance, California's legalization of small amounts for medical treatment has forced the team to pick and choose which complaints it answers.

"It's made a difference in the way we do things," said Noe. "We prioritize by the size of the operation and threat to the public."

A complaint about a neighbor growing plants in a back yard, for example, isn't going to be a high priority as long as the plants aren't grown for sale.

The team generally leaves complaints of that variety for local law enforcement to deal with.

"Obviously if somebody is a card-carrying member (of a marijuana club)," said Noe, "we're not going to mess with them as long as they're following the rules."

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Decimated supes okay budget

Postby palmspringsbum » Sat Jul 01, 2006 3:13 pm

The Willits News wrote:
Decimated supes okay budget

The Willits News
By Mike A'Dair/TWN Staff Writer
1 Jul 2006

On a day when two supervisors, claiming a mysterious illness, abandoned the board room, remaining board members adopted a $202 million draft budget, tentatively adopted the Precautionary Principle, and endorsed a July 24 marijuana workshop.

At the outset of the day's agenda, after a closed session in which a majority of the board voted to fire CEO John Ball, both Jim Wattenburger of Ukiah and Michael Delbar of Potter Valley announced they had been taken ill. Wattenburger said he was sick to his stomach and would have to leave; Delbar announced Wattenburger's illness was contagious and he felt the same way. Delbar said it was obvious his opinions carried no weight with the board majority and his efforts to represent the interests of his constituents were ineffectual. Both he and Wattenburger left the boardroom.

<span class=postbold>Budget matters</span>

Chief Operations Officer Alison Glassey announced the county's total spending package had risen to $202.4 million, an 8.85 percent increase over the 2005-2006 fiscal year budget. That package includes a 2.88 percent increase in wages and a 4.85 percent increase in benefits.

The budget includes numerous new programs, such as the implementation of a Criminal Justice Master Plan, (featuring the hiring of five sheriff's technicians for booking duties at the jail, and two probation officers and three counselors for providing pre-trial services, plus remodeling of the booking area at the jail and repairing other jail areas); creation of a planning team with funds to complete several expensive programs (Ukiah Valley Area Plan, Grading Ordinance), plus other capital improvement projects.

Glassey also reminded supervisors the 6.5 percent cut to which other departments were subject did not apply to the board. She noted travel expenses for 2004-05 fiscal year were $25,000, for 2005-06, $34,000, and have been budgeted at $56,500 for the 2005-2006 fiscal year. A request by Supervisor Smith for additional an $50,000 in travel expenses was still open for discussion, Glassey said.

Supervisor David Colfax said he believed it would be appropriate to consider dipping into the county's general fund reserves in to come up with funding for some departments and projects. Ball had earlier stated not only were the county's reserves at $.1.7 million--much less than the stated goal of $3.9 million--but much less than the level that often recommended by governmental organizations. Ball said a reserve level of between 5 and 15 percent is the minimum recommended level.

Supervisors praised Glassey for her presentation and said all of their questions had been satisfactorily answered. They then approved the draft budget, 3-0.

<span class=postbold>Precautionary Principle</span>

By the same margin, supervisors adopted by minute order a precautionary principle (PP). By definition the PP requires "the selection of the alternative that presents the least potential threat to human health and the county's natural systems."

"Where threats of serious or irreversible damage to people or nature exist, lack of full scientific certainty about cause and effect shall not be viewed as sufficient reason for the county to postpone cost-effective measures to prevent the degradation of the environment or to protect the health of its residents. Any gaps in scientific data uncovered by the examination of alternatives will provide a guidepost for future research, but will not prevent protective action from being taken the county."

Supervisors voted to adopt the PP in two county departments, to be recommended by the CEO and selected by themselves. Pilot programs will be set up in those departments, which will prepare guidelines for implementation of the PP in the remainder of county departments. The guidelines will be presented to supervisors sometime between June 2007 and June 2009.

<span class=postbold>Marijuana workshop</span>

After outgoing Director of Public Health Carol Mordhorst made a few recommendations to the board, Supervisor Hal Wagenet agreed to trim the scope of a projected marijuana workshop, now scheduled to run from 9 a.m. to noon on Monday, July 24.

Mordhorst suggested the board break the meeting into two parts: one part would with topics connected to medical marijuana; the other with issues surrounding illegal marijuana gardening.

Wagenet agreed the workshop would be an "in-county" event, abandoning thoughts of inviting officials from other counties to participate.

Last edited by palmspringsbum on Sun Aug 06, 2006 4:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Supes explore pot impacts

Postby budman » Sat Jul 29, 2006 12:42 pm

The Willits News wrote:Supes explore pot impacts

The Willits News
By Mike A'Dair/TWN Staff Writer
July 29, 2006

<table class=posttable align=right width=200><tr><td class=postcell><img class=postimg src=bin/marijuana_branch.jpg></td></tr></table>The invisible elephant in the room became slightly more visible during a Board of Supervisors workshop on marijuana held in Ukiah on Monday.

The meeting however, was mostly informational and, other than directing County Counsel Jeanine Nadel to explore various avenues of the law as it applies to marijuana, the supervisors took no action.

COMMET Commander Rusty Noe stated that so far this year, his two-man team has confiscated and destroyed 125,000 marijuana plants. Noe said that that number is 50 percent higher than last year's number at the same date, and that the number in 2005 was fifty percent higher than 2004. In a separate conversation in the hall during a break, Noe confirmed that so far this year, seizure of marijuana plants in 2006 is double the number seized in 2004 for the same date.

However, District Attorney Norman Vroman reiterated that he believes that, at a maximum, law enforcement in the county is only seizing 10 percent of the total plants grown.

When asked what the total number of plants grown in the county might be, or what the cash valuation of the crop is, Noe would venture no guess. "That's impossible to tell," he said.

Third District Supervisor Hal Wagenet asked Assistant Director of the Dept. of Public Health Dan Taylor if he thought that people who were growing marijuana, and who might otherwise consider coming in under the county's medical marijuana card program, declined to do so because they feared that information gathered by the county might be shared with state and federal governments.

"I think that's a reasonable assumption to take," Taylor said.

Acting Sheriff Kevin Broin said that he didn't have enough deputies to enforce federal prohibitions against growing marijuana in this county. "We would never have enough law enforcement officers to take care of a problem the size of this," Broin said. He said that his department does not investigate marijuana growing on its own initiative, but does investigate growing operations in response to calls for service from the public. "Very little growing activity is reported," Broin said.

"So in essence would you say that a lot of people out here are developing into a separate culture that is taking matters into its own hands?" asked Wagenet.

"I'd have to agree with that," Broin said. "And I don't think it's anything new. I think it's been happening for quite a while."

When asked by Maria Brook, co-chair of the Mendocino County Medical Marijuana Citizens Advisory Board, if it would be helpful if medical marijuana growers invited sheriff's officers up to their grow sites early on to introduce themselves and their gardens to the deputies, and to affirm their legality, Broin said no.

"It would be better for neighbors started to work together," Broin said. "I recommend you develop some kind of thing where people talk with each other to make sure that what you are doing is legal, and that you all know what each of you is doing, then we won't be called."

Norm Vroman described the county's "liberal" approach to prosecuting marijuana. He reminded the supervisors that he and former Sheriff Tony Craver had created guidelines to dealing with marijuana growing in 1999, in response to the 1996 statewide passage of proposition 215, which decriminalized marijuana growing for medical purposes.

The County's guidelines are that growers are confined to a hundred square foot canopy (10 feet by 10 feet) or that they may possess as much as two pounds of processed pot for sale, and that they must have a valid medical marijuana card.

He said that the guidelines are only guidelines but that "if someone exceeds the guidelines, it means we're going to take a closer look at it."

"People are not breaking the law if they are growing medical marijuana without a card," Vroman said. When asked what kinds of penalties are being leveled by courts at landowners where "big grows" have been found, Vroman said, " It comes down to the judges. It's been a long time since I've seen anybody go to state prison for cultivation or transportation of marijuana."

Armand Brindt, Prevention Services Manager with the County's Alcohol and Other Drug Program, talked about drug abuse treatment issues. "Marijuana is the most widely used illicit drug," he said. According to Dept. of Public Health information, forty percent of high school students have used it by the 11th grade. The statistical perception of use is one hundred percent. That means that, by the 11th grade, all high school students think that all of their peers have smoked it. 88 percent of students by the 11th grade believe that marijuana is easy or very easy to obtain.

Brindt said that the THC content of modern pot dwarfs that of earlier decades. "Back in the 1960s and 70s, the pot then had a THC content of one to three percent. Today's pot has THC levels of between 15 and 20 percent. There's an enormous difference," Brindt said. He added that, despite the potency and widespread use of the drug, marijuana is not the number one teen threat. "The biggest teen drug is alcohol," Brindt reminded the board.

Karen Wandrei, Director of the Mendocino County Youth Project, told the board that many adults today believe that marijuana is harmless and even benign, because of the anti-marijuana propaganda of the past. Wandrei named the 1930s movie Reefer Madness, which she said clearly overstated the dangers of the drug. "People saw that movie and then tried the drug and said, 'We've been lied to'," Wandrei said. "And so they disregarded everything."

Carol Mordhorst, outgoing director of the Dept. of Public Health, said that smoke from marijuana "may be a carcinogen" and that breathing secondhand marijuana smoke "may lead to childhood asthma, which is on the rise." She said that her department has received many calls from people who have questions about the effects of pesticides that might be used on a particular crop of marijuana, or about the health effects on ingesting any fungi that could be growing on the plant. Mordhorst said that her department tells people that "We don't have expertise in that area."

She also noted that, from the perspective of Animal Care and Control, the county is having a problem with pit bulls, one of the fiercest and most vicious of dogs. "We've seen an enormous increase in pit bulls," Mordhorst said. "People keep them in their gardens as a deterrence factor, and then, at the end of the season, they let them go wild." "The fact that we provide treatment for marijuana use on one end of the building, and that we issue medical marijuana cards on the other end, has been interesting," Mordhorst stated. "With the acceptance of marijuana, it is a significant struggle to convince young people to stay away from it."

Carol Park, Services Director of the Mendocino County Family Court, said that her court issued a policy statement last year concerning the use of medical marijuana by parents. The statement says that marijuana use, regardless of the presence of an authorized 215 card, will be seen as potentially influencing a parent's ability to provide adequate care for a child.

"We recognized that we had a number of young people coming in who were telling us, 'I've got a medical marijuana card, and therefore it is okay for me to be stoned all day, and I can still parent."

County Assessor/Clerk/Recorder Marsha Wharff told the supes that pot was having an impact on her department as well. "We don't send appraisers out into the field during harvest time, because it's too dangerous," she said. Her sentiments were echoed by Wes Foreman, head of the Probation Dept. "There is a general concern that sending our people out in the county to supervise, or just to do their jobs especially in the rural part of the county is very dangerous," Foreman said. "Therefore we have an armed probation staff, which many counties don't do. And we send our guys out in pairs," he said.

Contacted after the meeting had concluded, Wagenet said that the meeting was "mostly informational. One interesting things was that the County Counsel opined that the Board of Supervisors could define the prosecutorial level how many plants you could grow before it became illegal. Norm Vroman didn't want to hear that but we invited Nadel to give us some expansion on that thought."

"Nobody bemoans the medical aspect," said the Third District Supervisor. "And nobody denies that there is a for-profit aspect to the business. But where the line is, that's the difficult part."

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Medical marijuana board holds first meeting

Postby Midnight toker » Fri Aug 04, 2006 3:33 pm

The Mendocino Beacon wrote:Article Last Updated: 08/03/2006 11:05:11 AM PDT

Medical marijuana board holds first meeting
By FRANK HARTZELL Of The Beacon --
The Mendocino Beacon

<table class=posttable align=right width=300><tr><td class=postcell><img src=bin/trippet_pebbles.jpg width=300></td></tr><tr><td class=postcap>District Attorney Norm Vroman speaks to MMAB members and the audience, while moderator Pebbles Trippet looks on.</td></tr></table>A defendant was perched next to the district attorney at a not-very-relaxing first meeting of the Mendocino Medical Marijuana Advisory Board Friday in Fort Bragg.

In a greater irony, Mendocino County District Attorney Norm Vroman was invited as special guest to be praised for not prosecuting people for medical marijuana-related offenses.

And, advisory board member David Moore, who faces criminal charges along with five other members of his Mendocino Healing growing and distribution operation in Fort Bragg, has been a supporter of Vroman and the card program he helped create with former Sheriff Tony Craver.

Craver, the new board's honorary chairman, was also present.

The tension between Moore and Vroman wasn't the only visible conflict Friday over the herb famous for its calming powers. There was politicking, accusations and much confusion as the new board steered the audience through the maze of marijuana legislation, litigation and law enforcement.

Mendocino County's admittedly relaxed pot policies become a problem when the medicine is exported from the county.

Mendocino Healing supplied a large percentage of the San Francisco medical marijuana market, upsetting neighbors and prompting federal interest, culminating in a raid on Mitchell Creek Road last November that netted 1,500 plants.

While most of the crowd supported the need for growing operations like Mendocino Healing, some worried about crime and kids getting easier access to marijuana.

Many patients in the crowd came from the Bay Area and said they weren't able to grow their own supply. They said San Francisco doesn't have available and clean soils like Mendocino County, comparing marijuana to clean, organic apples and grapes grown locally.

"It takes a healthy person to produce medical marijuana for a patient," said activist Ukiah Sativa Morrison, a member of the board.

Percy Coleman was one of about a dozen people who came up from San Francisco to offer support to Mendocino Healing. Coleman, a soft-spoken 56-year-old cancer patient, is on a fixed income and cannot afford the $50 to $70 per 1/8th ounce that other city clubs charge. The same amount costs $20 to $25 from Mendocino Healing, he said in an interview.

Coleman said Mendocino Healing got into trouble by giving the doses away to those with cards, attracting long lines. Coleman admitted he smoked pot recreationally before being diagnosed with cancer and high blood pressure, and said prices have actually skyrocketed for pot since the medical marijuana laws were passed.

"Most of the clubs in San Francisco are really just in the marijuana-selling business, but Mendocino Healing is the only one that really wants to help people on fixed incomes," Coleman said, adding that the marijuana grown in Mendocino County is cleaner and more effective than the mixed bag that other clubs provide.

While about half the 75-plus people in Town Hall gave candidate Vroman two rousing standing ovations, others sat with arms crossed during the clapping.

True to Mendocino County tradition, nobody, save the politicians, gave their names when speaking, including board members.

One man pointed his finger at Vroman and called the county's top lawman a "liar" for saying marijuana charges don't now result in state prison, saying his own caregiver faces prison time.

"Was that a question?" Vroman asked as the man left the microphone.

"It was both a question and a statement," the man retorted.

Vroman described how each of California's 58 counties has a different interpretation of laws regarding transportation and possession of marijuana. He pledged to protect patients, but only within "his county."

"We have a terrible problem with people coming up the 101 corridor and buying marijuana, be it medical or otherwise. I am not interested in [protecting] people from any other county. They can take care of themselves," he said.

Vroman said he could not comment on the Mendocino Healing case because charges are pending.

"We are prosecuting some cases that don't look like medical marijuana. We are making them go through the hoops, going to a court and proving to a judge this is indeed medical marijuana. It is still illegal to possess marijuana unless it falls under Proposition 215 rules," Vroman said.

He said the confusing statutes don't clarify how much marijuana is too much, among other things.

"If they meet minimum guidelines, we don't look at the case," Vroman said.

If a caregiver falls outside the guidelines, prosecutors investigate.

"We see if somebody is trying to flimflam us Š We are trying to protect the legitimate marijuana user and the legitimate marijuana caregiver," Vroman said.

Moore claims his Mendocino Healing operation always had more patients than he could provide for, buying from other medical marijuana providers. He says his Mitchell Creek Road growing operation was never a secret, with city and county permits being filed and law officers being invited to the site. He claims the raid was an ambush that happened while former Sheriff Tony Craver was unavailable.

Neighbors of the Mitchell Creek Road operation expressed worries about its scale and safety, saying it attracted thieves. None would speak on the record.

San Francisco neighbors got the Mendocino Healing distribution operation on Lafayette Street shut down, Moore said, although it's now re-opened with no walk-ins allowed. He admitted there were give-aways and said the long lines surprised him.

Moore blamed NIMBYism (not in my backyard) and the fact that Vroman's stance on medical marijuana rules stops at the county line for stopping effective use of medical marijuana.

Moore said Vroman would set medical marijuana back 10 years if he sticks to a practice of severely limiting the number of patients a local care provider can have outside of the area.

He said the district attorney's office's claim that the operation is fronting for non-medical activities is false.

"We are being accused of making a lot of money, and that just ain't so, and we can prove it," Moore said at the meeting.

Craver said had he "been in the information loop" the raid on Mendocino Healing probably would not have happened."

He also said Moore was "legitimately trying to help people ... That's why he had my support for seven years," the former sheriff said.

Craver pleaded with the crowd to lobby Sacramento for sensible statewide standards.

Both Craver and Vroman said they don't smoke marijuana but support the right of patients who do.

Vroman said that, speaking as a citizen, not as DA, he hoped the next new law would be to legalize marijuana, although as DA he is obligated to uphold the current law, which makes all non-medical marijuana illegal.

In addition to providing the crowd with a full history of Mendocino County's medical marijuana card program, Craver made a strong political pitch for Tom Allman over Kevin Broin in the November sheriff's race.

After kidding Allman about being a "former narc," Craver said, "Go with [Allman] and you won't be sorry. Kevin Broin isn't the guy for the job Š You can thank Kevin for the fact that you have to go to court to get your [marijuana] back, which we didn't have the right to take in the first place. Tom Allman won't do that.

Broin attended the last meeting of the group but wasn't present Friday. The MMMAB board does not endorse candidates.

Vroman didn't campaign or mention his foe in the November election, Meredith Lintott. He was introduced "not as a candidate for district attorney but as a friend of the medical marijuana movement since 1999," by moderator Pebbles Trippet.

Allman took the podium to promise not to "fix what isn't broken" and to praise the program of Craver and Vroman. He encouraged everyone to watch a slideshow by county health officer Marvin Trotter, M.D., about the medical benefits of marijuana, which he said had given him pause and made him re-think pre-conceived notions about the herb.

The MMMAB is also sponsoring a separate DA medical marijuana policy debate between Vroman and Lintott and a debate between Allman and Broin on Sept. 30 at Area 101, 10 miles north of Laytonville on Highway 101.

Lintott and Broin were both invited to the Friday forum, but could not make it, said Trippet.

Craver got interested in the issue when he worked for a former sheriff who ordered raids and seizures "of everything somebody had but their skivvies," knowing they would be returned. Craver also was uncomfortable with the policy of former California Attorney General Dan Lundgren who after the passage of Proposition 215 wanted law officers to arrest everyone caught with marijuana and let the courts "sort out the good guys from the bad guys."

"People want to play by the rules Š I felt we needed at least a white paper [explaining how the program was supposed to work]," Craver said.

Craver and Vroman became a team because both men were searching for a program that would interpret the new laws for local citizens. Craver went to Arcata and studied a pioneering card program there.

He had hoped to pair with a judge to come up with standards for officers to rely on when headed to court "but Norm was talking about it," he said.

Craver said the third person in the trilogy was then county public health officer Trotter, who "went way out on a limb to help create the standards and particularly to protect patient confidentiality.

"What is a person's medical condition never came into the equation," Craver said.

Instead, law enforcement's job became simply to confirm whether a prescription existed.

"Anybody with a personal computer can sit down and write a prescription from Dr. Feelgood who says my client is a pot head, give him all he wants," Craver said.

As moderator, Trippet said Friday's meeting was all about taking the issue to higher ground.

"There is a future for this issue like few other issues. The herb is safe, people are a little bit more non-violent than the average person, due to the mellowing effect of marijuana," she said.

The audience at Friday's meeting was a markedly different group than those who regularly attend and demonstrate for issues like health care, peace, clean foods, opposition to offshore oil drilling and other issues traditionally labeled as "left." Friday's audience included many patients of all ages who were clearly in physical or emotional pain.

If confusing state laws, contradictory county interpretations and federal intrusions weren't enough for the issue, a local conflict has been brewing lately.

After an increase in seizures this year of pot plants, county supervisors have considered raising the bar for prosecution, according to published reports. Vroman responded to that effort by pointing out that supervisors don't control who the district attorney prosecutes.

Craver described the icy reception he got from fellow top county law officers as being made to feel like his underarm deodorant wasn't working when he walked into the room.

Vroman said he was laughed at by other prosecutors who mocked him for thinking the card program would work. Since then, he said, many of those same fellow prosecutors have contacted him to learn more about how Mendocino County's program does work, faced with their own problems over medical marijuana,

The MMMAB policy group formed April 5 at the Ukiah Brewery, with public officials, law enforcement, doctors, patients, caregivers, activists and defendants represented. Other board members include Registrar of Voters Marsha Wharff, Ukiah Planning Commissioner Judy Pruden, Lorraine Ahlswede of the Mendocino County SB 420 ID Card Program and Paula Deeter, who runs the local dispensary Urban Legend.

For information, call 984-9124 or 964-YESS.

<span class=postbold>See Also</span>: Dr. Denny Sued the DEA, et al (Vromin in the Gloamin')
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Medical marijuana group sponsors pot conference

Postby Midnight toker » Sat Sep 23, 2006 12:53 pm

The Willits News wrote:
Medical marijuana group sponsors pot conference

By The Willits News staff
Saturday, September 23, 2006
The Willits News

The Mendocino Medical Marijuana Advisory Board will sponsor an all-day educational conference on the ins and outs of medical marijuana law on Saturday, September 30.

The conference will occur at "Area 101" a ranch located about ten miles north of Laytonville.

The event will feature tips on growing pot organically from Jake Couch, an explanation of medical marijuana law by Pebbles Trippet and a slide presentation on the "endo-cannabinoid systems in the human body" by Dr. William Courtney. These workshops will take place between 12:30 and 2 p.m.

The main attraction of the day's events is a debate between Kevin Broin and Tom Allman which will take place beginning at 3 p.m. A debate between Meredith Lintott and the late Norman Vroman was to have taken place also, however Vroman's death Thursday forces a change in plans.

A 10-course Indian dinner will be offered at 6 p.m. and music from various performers beginning at 8 p.m.

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DA Vroman dies

Postby Midnight toker » Sat Sep 23, 2006 1:07 pm

The Ukiah Daily Journal wrote:Article Last Updated: 09/22/2006 09:40:58 AM PDT

DA Vroman dies
The Daily Journal

District Attorney Norman Vroman died Thursday afternoon at a Santa Rosa hospital of complications due to a heart attack.

The 69-year-old Vroman was rushed to Sutter Valley Memorial Hospital by helicopter Tuesday morning, after suffering a heart attack at his home.

His condition was described as critical by hospital staff on Tuesday when he was admitted to the intensive care unit, where he died at 12:30 p.m. Thursday.

Assistant District Attorney Keith Faulder said Tuesday that he would be taking over the duties of district attorney in the interim.

At the courthouse, the business of the court continued Thursday afternoon, although a sign on the door of the District Attorney's Office stated that the office was closed Thursday and would reopen during normal hours Friday.

A two-term district attorney, Vroman also worked as an assistant district attorney, a public defender, a police officer and a judge in a career that spanned more than 40 years.

Vroman was known for his "open door" policy at the District Attorney's Office and also for his political stances, which were sometimes outside the mainstream

Vroman was the first district attorney to organize a program whereby medical marijuana users were issued identification cards, working with former Mendocino County Sheriff Tony Craver.

Craver remembered Vroman as a good man and a brilliant attorney who thought outside the box.

He said he spoke with Vroman almost every day over the last eight years.

"We've lost a good friend in the passing of Norm Vroman," Craver said. "He was a wonderful guy."

Vroman was also known for his battles with the Internal Revenue Service and was prosecuted by that office for failure to pay federal income tax. In 1991, he was sentenced to 17 months in jail for that crime.

At the time of his death, Vroman was running for a third term as district attorney against Fort Bragg attorney Meredith Lintott.

Late last year, Vroman announced he would run for Superior Court judge but later changed his mind and withdrew from the judge's race.

Assistant Registrar of Voters Katrina Bartolomie said Vroman's name will remain on the ballot for November's general election. California election law states that unless a candidate's name is withdrawn prior to the 68th day before the election, it stays on the ballot.

Bartolomie said she could not comment on what would happen if a majority of voters cast ballots for Vroman despite his death. She said county counsel was examining California election law and would have an answer soon.

A memorial service for Vroman is planned but has not yet been scheduled, and his family asks that flowers and condolences be held until an announcement is made.

Ben Brown can be reached at

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Vroman, Lintott share their views on DA's race

Postby Midnight toker » Fri Sep 29, 2006 2:31 pm

Ft. Bragg Advocate-News wrote:Last Updated: 09/28/2006 01:17:16 PM PDT

Vroman, Lintott share their views on DA's race
By DON CLAYBROOK Of the Advocate --

Editor's Note: As readers know, Mendocino County District Attorney Norm Vroman died last Thursday, Sept. 21, following a heart attack the morning of Sept. 19. Despite Vroman's death and over the objections of his opponent Meredith Lintott, we are proceeding with our planned coverage of the run-off election for DA. Given these highly unusual circumstances, readers should know why we think this information belongs in the public record.

Vroman's name remains on the ballot; if he is elected, the Board of Supervisors will appoint someone to fill his position. Also, potential write-in candidates for district attorney have until Oct. 24 to file nomination papers with the county. Therefore, it's not accurate to assume that Lintott will automatically be elected and the statements Vroman and Lintott made in early September remain relevant.

In early August, the newspapers gave Vroman and Lintott questions to respond to in writing for publication in the Advocate-News and The Mendocino Beacon. Lintott's answers were received on Sept. 8, Vroman's on Sept. 11; both are printed verbatim in this week's edition. (Questions have also been sent to the candidates for sheriff, the hospital board, and Fort Bragg City Council and their responses will be printed over the next few weeks.)

The newspapers and Mendocino Coast Television, the local public access station, had also planned to videotape a forum at MCTV's studio with Lintott and Vroman last Saturday, Sept. 23, following one with sheriff's candidates Kevin Broin and Tom Allman.

At the end of the forum with Broin and Allman, Publisher Sharon Brewer announced that the DA candidates' program had been canceled but the newspapers would publish the written statements we'd received from Lintott and Vroman. Lintott was in the studio observing the sheriff's debate and heard the announcement.

On Monday, Brewer and Editor Katherine Lee were contacted via telephone by Terry Price, Lintott's campaign advisor. Price questioned publishing Vroman and Lintott's statements, and said that if the newspapers planned to do so, then Lintott wanted to change her answers to some of the questions out of respect for Vroman and his family.

Though Brewer and Lee told Price the two candidates' statements would be printed as received before Vroman's death with an editor's note explaining the situation, Lintott emailed revised answers later Monday afternoon with a cover letter stating:
<blockquote><i>"I believe that publishing responses post-death is inappropriate and disrespectful. My responses given to a number of the questions are now irrelevant. Since Mr. Vroman will never be district attorney, his answers are completely irrelevant.

"I am withdrawing my initial responses and requesting that these responses not be printed. If you do go forward over my objection, enclosed please find revised responses."</i></blockquote>
We strongly disagree with Lintott; not printing this information would be inappropriate, disrespectful and an alteration of historical record. Those who would like to read Lintott's revised answers should contact her directly.

<hr class=postrule>
Ms. Lintott, did you expect to do as well as you did in the June primary? Why?

- Lintott: Yes, I expected to win this election by a large margin because the people of this county learned that I am the best-qualified candidate for this position and recognize I have the energy and experience to do an excellent job as District Attorney.

Mr. Vroman, did you expect Ms. Lintott to do as well as she did in the June primary? Why?

- Vroman: I had hoped that there would not be a runoff but expected that if there was one it would be with Lintott and myself.

Ms. Lintott, the numbers from the primary seem to make you the favorite in November. What will you do to keep from getting too comfortable or overconfident when it would appear that you have the advantage?

- Lintott: I am honored and gratified to have received the highest number of votes in the June primary election, but I am not taking anything for granted for the general election in November. I, along with a committed group of volunteers, am working hard to get my message to every voter in Mendocino County. What I offer the voter is a clear change in leadership styles. I will be a District Attorney who is ethical, fair and makes decisions based on the facts and the law; never on a personal or political agenda. The response from voters concerning my candidacy continues to be extremely positive.

Mr. Vroman, if Ms. Lintott keeps the votes she received in the primary on June 6 and gets half of Myron Sawicki's vote, she will be the next DA of Mendocino County. You received 8,283 votes in June. Ms. Lintott received 9,643, leaving Sawicki with 4,997. If you are able to capture 3,000 of Sawicki's votes, and Ms. Lintott only receives the remaining 1,997, you would still lose to her by 357 votes (assuming you and Lintott both retain your original supporters). What will you do to change that seemingly logical scenario?

- Vroman: This question assumes that the same number of people will vote in the general election. I intend to wage a very vigorous campaign.

Ms. Lintott, it appears that you spent heavily in the June election. On the other hand, it appears that Mr. Vroman spent little or nothing. Is your war chest sufficient for the weeks ahead?

- Lintott: It's very difficult and expensive getting my message to all areas of this large county. My opponent appears to be mounting a campaign, even after he originally said it wouldn't be necessary. Many feel since the incumbent suffered such a stunning defeat in June (over 60% of the voters voted against him) he will resort to negative campaigning. I'm committed to running a positive, county-wide campaign and am encouraged by the financial and other support I'm receiving. For those wanting to join my campaign they can go to my web site:

Mr. Vroman, it appears that you spent very little money on the primary. Were you anticipating being in a runoff and were you saving your war chest for that runoff?

- Vroman: I'm still looking for my "war chest". I did not accept donations for the primary and all money that I spent came out of my own pocket. I am now accepting contributions and will spend accordingly.

Ms. Lintott, what was your professional relationship with Mr. Vroman when you worked for him? Did you have any idea you would be running against him at that time? What part, if any, did the blanket recusals of Judge Jonathan Lehan play in your decision to run against your boss? Did Mr. Vroman fire you or did you simply quit? If so, what were your reasons for doing so?

- Lintott: I worked in the District Attorney's office for both Susan Massini and my opponent. I held various positions and my evaluations were, in all cases, favorable. During the 10 years I worked at District Attorney's Office I never considered running for District Attorney. While acting as a deputy district attorney in May 2004, I declined to participate in my opponent's policy of signing declarations swearing that Superior Court Judge Lehan was prejudiced against the District Attorney's Office. I would not sign a declaration that I thought was untrue and unwarranted. I was against the District Attorney's attempt to close the coast court and have all criminal cases transferred to other inland courts. This was not only disruptive to coastal residents; it also negatively impacted law enforcement, the court system, and the county budget.

I resigned from the District Attorney's Office to pursue a private legal practice. It was not until I was approached by many community leaders urging me to run for District Attorney that I consider becoming a candidate.

Mr. Vroman, what was your professional relationship with Ms. Lintott at the time she worked for you? Can you pinpoint anything that would cause her to want to replace you? What part, if any, do you think your blanket recusals of Judge Jonathan Lehan played into her decision to run against you? Did you fire her? If so, why?

- Vroman: When I hired Ms Lintott I had great expectations for her future with the office. Mark Kalina who was Ms Lintott's supervisor reported to me that she was not at a professional level that we expected of our trial lawyers nor was she able to work well with the staff. I then took a hands-on approach and was able to verify Kalina's appraisal and at that point I requested her letter of resignation. The recusals of Judge Lehan were a direct result of Ms. Lintott returning from court in tears with the complaint that the Judge was allowing the defense attorneys to run over her. This situation continued for some months before the recusals started.

Ms. Lintott, how do you analyze the primary vote for Mr. Sawicki? Those voters would appear to be critical for the November election.

- Lintott: Voters who voted for Mr. Sawicki clearly understand that it is time for a change in the leadership of the District Attorney's Office. Mr. Sawicki has endorsed my candidacy and I would hope that most voters who voted for him would view me as a positive alternative to our current District Attorney.

Mr. Vroman, do you think the votes Myron Sawicki received in June were votes against you? Against Lintott? Or, were they FOR Sawicki? In other words, how do you analyze Sawicki's 21.77% of the vote? Those voters would appear to be critical for the November election.

- Vroman: I have no idea how the voters made a decision in the primary. I believe that my professional credentials, ability, experience and a proven track record would be the major factors considered by the voters in November.

The problem I've encountered is that most of the public has little or no information on what the duties and responsibilities of the District Attorney are. This of course makes it difficult to determine who is qualified and who is not. My record speaks for itself; we have not lost a major case or been reversed on a major case in the last eight years.

Ms. Lintott, on what issues do you and the incumbent agree?

- Lintott: For the most part I agree with my opponent on the growing and use of medical marijuana and legal ownership of guns. I will defend the medical marijuana prescriptions system created by proposition 215. I will, however, enforce the law against large scale operations by criminal gangs and Mexican crime bosses that are taking over our public lands. I will also firmly prosecute violent criminals who use weapons.

Mr. Vroman, on what issues do you and the challenger agree?

- Vroman: (This is Vroman's answer to both this question and the next) We have not had the opportunity to discuss whatever issues there may be. The most important issue that I see is who has the ability, experience and qualifications to manage the largest law office in Mendocino County. It is my position that when these areas, including my performance for the last eight years, are examined my opponent comes up way behind.

Ms. Lintott, on what issues do you and Mr. Vroman most notably disagree?

- Lintott: I disagree with my opponent on his refusal to cooperate with other governmental and law enforcement organizations. When I'm District Attorney, I will bring to the District Attorney's Office a new spirit of cooperation and teamwork. We will work closely with all county government agencies, law enforcement, the courts and community-based programs.

I will not act arbitrarily to disrupt our court system by blanket disqualifications of our local judges (which occurred on three different occasions by my opponent.)

I will focus on protecting people in domestic violence situations, stopping child and elder abuse, methamphetamine production and sales, and criminal gangs. Of course, I support the vigorous prosecution of all violent offenders.

Ms. Lintott is the "machine gun" issue really an issue or is it an election-year ploy? The tax issues a few years back didn't seem to stick to Mr. Vroman. Why will the current issues be any different? Why do people vote for him in spite of serious allegations against him? Is Mr. Vroman really the "Teflon DA?" (Note to our readers: Mr. Vroman allegedly purchased a few machine guns for his office with Asset Forfeiture Funds).

- Lintott: I strongly disagree with spending asset forfeiture money for machine guns for the District Attorney's Office. This is but one of many examples of arbitrary, unnecessary and fiscally wasteful behavior on the part of my opponent.

I believe Mendocino County voters are fed up with the way the District Attorney's Office is being led and want a reasonable, energetic, and fair-minded District Attorney.

Mr. Vroman, perhaps the "machine gun" issue played well for your opponents in the primary, causing many to say, "Ok, we've had enough of Norm's antics." Is it a real issue or is it a smoke screen? Will the "machine gun" issue and others finally crack your "Teflon DA" image or will you shed those charges too? You've withstood some major allegations over the years. Why do people still vote for you?

- Vroman: If by "antics" you are referring to my confrontations with the BOS (Board of Supervisors) over my budget at the beginning of each fiscal year, I'll admit that I have become "cranky" about this. But at the end of each year the BOS have always agreed that I have spent the money for what was necessary.

When I'm told that I must cut my budget, not because what I've asked for is not reasonable and necessary, but because they can't find the money, it makes me "cranky". The law is very clear; the reasonable and necessary expenses of the DA and the Sheriff must be met before any money is budgeted elsewhere. I will never compromise the public safety in the name of economy.

The machine gun issue of course was smoke screen. Those weapons are used by my investigators in the performance of their duties as peace officers, among which are the protection of witnesses.

The people continue to vote for me because of the above. They know that I will fight for what is right regardless of what some people think. That does not mean I won't accept input. My open door policy and accessibility are proof of that. They also look at my record over the last eight years and see that there has never been any issue of lack of professionalism or ability to perform the functions of the District Attorney.

Ms. Lintott, you appeared to "stay above the fray" and let Mr. Vroman and Mr. Sawicki duke it out in the primary. Will that change in these last weeks of the runoff?

- Lintott: I don't want to engage in negative campaigning or personal accusations. I hope that people will look at the real issues in this race and decide that after eight years it's time for change in the leadership of the District Attorney's Office.

Mr. Vroman, you spent much of the primary refuting arguments and charges from Mr. Sawicki. On the other hand, Ms. Lintott "stayed above the fray." How will you attempt to engage her in the runoff?

- Vroman: By actively challenging her qualifications, experience and ability to perform the duties of the District Attorney.

Ms. Lintott, what is the absolute number one reason the voters should vote for you in November and not Mr. Vroman?

- Lintott: The number one reason to vote for me is because I will provide ethical, fair and consistent leadership. I don't have a personal or political agenda, but I do have the experience, energy and empathy that our county needs to face our law enforcement challenges.

Mr. Vroman, what is the absolute number one reason the voters should vote for you in November and not the challenger, Ms. Lintott?

- Vroman: Qualifications. With over 50 years as a police officer, Public Defender, defense lawyer, prosecutor and a Judge, I'm the only qualified candidate for DA. I have prosecuted and defended numerous murder cases and have tried well over 150 trials. My opponent can't make this claim.

The DA is responsible for 16 lawyers, 7 investigators and 27 support staff located at 3 different offices. This requires a person who has management skills in dealing with personnel, developing and adopting policy, training of all personnel, and supervising the filing and trial of cases.

I possess those qualifications. If there is any question about this, one needs only to look at my record. I continue to be accessible, my direct line is 463-5450, give me a call.

Election day is Tuesday, Nov. 7.

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Campers' arrested in Willits with machine gun

Postby Midnight toker » Fri Oct 13, 2006 10:23 am

The Ukiah Daily Journal wrote:Campers' arrested in Willits with machine gun

By BEN BROWN The Daily Journal
Ukiah Daily Journal
Article Last Updated:10/12/2006 08:42:59 AM PDT

Three Bay area gang members, who said they were going camping, were arrested Wednesday morning in Willits, after a traffic stop revealed they had night-vision goggles and a machine gun in their car.

Based on the time of year and other factors, Mendocino County Sheriff's Capt. Kurt Smallcomb said it's possible the three men were planning to rob a marijuana garden but said he could not say definitively what the men might have been doing in Mendocino County.

"They stopped something bad from happening," Smallcomb said of the officers who made the arrest.

Raymond Romprey, 24, and Ernesto and Maurice Salazar, 26 and 35 respectively, all of San Francisco, were arrested on suspicion of possession of a concealed firearm, being a felon in possession of a firearm, possession of a loaded firearm in a vehicle, possession and transportation of a machine gun and participation in a criminal street gang at 2:30 a.m. Wednesday.

According to sheriff's reports, the suspects were stopped by sheriff's deputies on Highway 101 at the intersection of State Route 20 in Willits, Wednesday morning.

During the stop, a drug-sniffing dog alerted on the car, and a search of the car revealed a small amount of marijuana, enough for personal use, a machine gun, binoculars and a set of night-vision goggles, Smallcomb said.

Smallcomb said he could not say what type of machine gun the suspects had in their car or what other weapons, if any, they may have been carrying.

Asked what they were doing, the suspects told sheriff's deputies they were headed to the Covelo area to go camping. Deputies did not find any camping equipment in the car.

"Going camping in the Covelo area this time of year doesn't make much sense," Smallcomb said.

Further investigation revealed that all three suspects were registered gang members who had spent time in jail for felony offenses.

Smallcomb said he didn't know the charges of the previous arrests.

All three suspects were booked into the county jail on a $75,000 bond.

Armed robbery of marijuana gardens is not new to Mendocino County. On Sept. 22, five men from the Bay area were arrested on suspicion of robbery and possession and transport of marijuana for sale after they allegedly robbed a medical marijuana garden in Laytonville.

The men are alleged to have threatened the garden's owners with 9mm and .223 caliber firearms.

Ben Brown can be reached at

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Medical marijuana conference next Saturday

Postby palmspringsbum » Fri Oct 13, 2006 2:37 pm

The Willits News wrote:Medical marijuana conference next Saturday

By The Willits News staff
Article Launched:10/13/2006 12:15:50 PM PDT

After some juggling occasioned by the death of Mendocino County District Attorney Norman Vroman, an educational conference on medical marijuana has been rescheduled for Saturday, October 21, from noon to midnight or later.

The conference will be held at Area 101, a retreat center located 10 miles north of Laytonville on Highway 101.

Three workshops will kick off the conference, beginning at 12:30. Workshops are on "The Brain's Own Marijuana," a lecture with slide show by Dr. William Courtney, "The Nuts and Bolts of Medical Marijuana Law" with Pebbles Trippet, and "Organic Grow Tips" by Jake Couch.

At 3 p.m. there will be a debate between Sheriff Kevin Broin and sheriff's Lt. Tom Allman, both of whom are running for Mendocino County sheriff.

At 4:30 there will be a debate between Keith Faulder, the county's interim district attorney, and Steve Antler, who will be filling in for Meredith Lintott, the Fort Bragg attorney who is running for district attorney against Vroman.

Following these events, there will be a 10-course Indian dinner (for $8) and a dance with live bands and recorded music for $5.

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Lintott plans new direction as DA

Postby palmspringsbum » Sat Nov 04, 2006 5:52 pm

The Ukiah Daily Journal wrote:Lintott plans new direction as DA

By BEN BROWN The Daily Journal
Ukiah Daily Journal
Article Last Updated:10/18/2006 08:39:45 AM PDT

<table class=posttable align=right width=267><tr><td class=postcell><img class=postimg src=bin/lintott_meredith.jpg></td></tr></table>Fort Bragg attorney Meredith Lintott laid out her plan for taking the Mendocino County District Attorney's Office in a new direction, at Monday night's candidate forum.

She appeared alone at the forum at the Ukiah Civic Center, because her opponent, incumbent District Attorney Norman Vroman, died Sept. 21 following a heart attack.

Lintott said, if elected, she would work to rein in those who commit repeated acts of domestic abuse, in contrast to the current policy.

"There has been a process of not prosecuting domestic violence restraining order violations," she said.

Lintott said she would work with the Board of Supervisors to increase the budget for the office and avoid the conflict that she said resulted in a $900,000 cut this year.

"I don't intend to have the arrogance we've had for eight years and the overspending we've had for eight years," Lintott said.

She said she would continue the current office policy of not prosecuting legitimate medical-marijuana growers.

"It is my position that Proposition 215 is the law," Lintott said. "I don't see any changes."

She said she would prosecute large marijuana growers and cartels that she said are using money gained from illegal marijuana grows to fund methamphetamine production.

To fight the methamphetamine problem in the county, Lintott said she would focus on getting addicts into the drug court program where they can get help.

She said her prosecutorial priorities would start with violent crimes.

"You want to deal with the crimes that have victims who cannot speak for themselves: children, the elderly and victims of domestic violence," she said.

Lintott said she would not pursue cases based on an "emotional agenda." She specifically mentioned the recently completed court case against Ukiah Mayor Mark Ashiku, who was acquitted this summer in a criminal case that alleged he illegally began work on his Spring Street house.

Lintott said she planned to have a two-fold strategy for dealing with the gang problem in Mendocino County. She said she would focus on education and intervention programs such as Ukiah's Gang Resistance Is Paramount.

"It's a prevention issue; it's an issue of educating the parents," Lintott said.

She also said she would push for stiff penalties for gang members who come from out of the county to recruit local young people into gangs.

Lintott also took the opportunity to again counter allegations made by Vroman in an interview with the Fort Bragg Advocate-News that she was fired. She has said repeatedly that she was not fired from the District Attorney's Office, but rather chose to resign from the position after she refused to participate in Vroman's attempts to force the recusel of a judge.

"My integrity and the quality of my work was never questioned," Lintott said, "It doesn't matter if I was fired or resigned."

Although Vroman is deceased, California election law says his name will remain on the ballot. Interim District Attorney Keith Faulder has filed a petition with the state Supreme Court to have Vroman's name taken off the ballot.

The election is scheduled for Nov. 7.

Ben Brown can be reached at

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Medical Marijuana Advisory Board scheduled for this Saturday

Postby palmspringsbum » Sat Nov 04, 2006 7:26 pm

The Ukiah Daily Journal wrote:Medical Marijuana Advisory Board scheduled for this Saturday

The Ukiah Daily Journal
October 20, 2006

Due to District Attorney Norm Vroman's sudden death and the unexpected scheduling conflict with the Vroman Memorial in Hopland Sept. 30, the Mendocino Medical Marijuana Advisory Board postponed its Sept. 30 Educational Conference and Sheriff's Debate until this Saturday . The Sheriff's Debate between Tom Allman and Kevin Broin is scheduled for 3 p.m. followed by questions and answers from interim District Attorney Keith Faulder and District Attorney candidate Meredith Lintott. Moderators will be Atty Terence Hallinan, former San Francisco District Attorney, and MMMAB advisor, Paula Deeter.

Dr. William Courtney's science lecture, "The Brain's Own Marijuana," precedes the debate MMMAB will distribute a Policy Survey and Questionnaire, seeking a community vote.

Area 101 will host the conference and evening program of music, dinner and skits until 2 a.m. Doors open with lunch at noon, on Saturday. 10 miles north, of Laytonville on Highway 101.

For more information, call 984-9124 or 964-YESS

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Broin, Allman lean opposite directions at pot debate

Postby palmspringsbum » Sat Nov 04, 2006 9:43 pm

The Willits News wrote:Broin, Allman lean opposite directions at pot debate

By Mike A'Dair/TWN Staff Writer
The Willits News
Article Launched: 10/25/2006 11:04:04 AM PDT

<table class=posttable align=right width=200><tr><td class=postcell><img src=bin/mendocino_sheriffs-2006.jpg></td></tr><tr><td class=postcap>Sheriff s candidates Kevin Broin (left) and Tom Allman.</td></tr></table>Sheriff Kevin Broin and North County Area commander Lt. Tom Allman, candidates for sheriff in the November election, differed in "spin" if not in substance during a debate on marijuana issues held Saturday at Area 101, a spiritual sanctuary and growth center on Highway 101 10 miles north of Laytonville.

Playing to the audience with a winning personality and all the right moves, Allman stressed his willingness to communicate and listen. He defended the legacy of former Sheriff Tony Craver and blamed Broin for the fact sheriff's deputies operating in the north county have been accused of interfering with or pulling plants being grown by legitimate medical marijuana growers.

On the other hand, Broin refused to play to the crowd. In contract to Allman, whose answers several times garnered applause and cheers, Broin's answers nearly always left the crowd in total silence. Broin bluntly told the audience he was going to continue to go after large growers and had little patience for those who endanger public safety.

Broin said he knew Craver had sometimes requested deputies not to tell him where they were going when embarking on marijuana raids, so he could retain plausible deniability. Broin said he wouldn't be that way, that he would claim responsibility for the actions of his deputies. Broin also blamed Allman for the actions of deputies who were hassling legitimate medical marijuana growers. He implied the deputies' actions were Allman's responsibility, adding he is investigating the incident.

The Willits News has repeatedly called both Broin and Allman, as well as sheriff's Captain Kurt Smallcomb, in an effort to discover the nature of the event, or events, in which sheriff's deputies apparently overreached their authority. However neither Broin nor Allman could be reached for comment, and Smallcomb said he was not aware of which incident either this reporter or the Area 101 audience was referring to..

During the debate, Broin said that as a result of the incident or incidents, he had placed one sergeant and two deputies on administrative leave. He also said that he had initiated an administrative investigation of the incident or incidents.

When asked if they thought marijuana was a lower-risk drug than alcohol or tobacco, Allman garnered cheers and applause when he said that, of the thousands of domestic violence calls he has responded to over his 24-year career as a peace officer, "75 percent of those had alcohol involved one way or the other. I cannot recall a single domestic violence situation I've been to where somebody was smoking dope and beat his wife. Usually he's eating brownies and going to sleep."

Allman said society has condoned the use of alcohol in different ways, but "we are in the infancy stage of dealing with marijuana."

Broin took a different tack. "As far as the relative risk of user for marijuana," he said, "I don't know for a fact how much of a health risk that is. But I know for a fact the way it's set up right now, for society there's certainly a public safety risk. And I think it's very important all of us come together both citizens and government and law enforcement, to come up with ways so we don't put our public in danger in the areas of growing and cultivation and distribution."

Speaking more pointedly about the health risks of marijuana, Broin said, "It's the polypharmacy thing that gets people all messed up. It's the mixture we've found that causes so many problems."

When asked how they felt about the current county medical marijuana growing policy as established by Craver and former District Attorney Norman Vroman, Broin said: "As far as the 25 plants, or the 100-square-foot canopy, I think it's been fine. I don't have an issue with that. I have an issue with people who go way outside that and create a public safety issue."

Allman suggested he would a rewriting of the current medical marijuana standards if a broad cross-section of the community were in favor of doing that. "I would support any reasonable offer from a committee comprised of medical doctors, legal scholars and healthcare and medical marijuana providers, and this policy should not come out of the ivory towers, and smoke and mirrors and all of a sudden it's a policy.

"People should know what this policy is long before it's signed off on by anybody," he said. "And we get to the final line by saying, 'Yes, and there may be exceptions to this.'

"Some people are convinced they need more than five pounds a year," Allman said, "and some people can live with half a pound a year. So there are extremes on both sides.

"I would say: don't put anybody in a corner, saying this is what it absolutely has to be. Because, as I said earlier, [Proposition 215] is a living, breathing proposition, and we have to make adaptation every year as we go along."

Allman highlighted the fact that while he has been endorsed by Craver, Broin was unanimously endorsed by the Deputy Sheriff's Association. "Tony told me a man can only serve one master. You are either going to work for the voters, or you are going to work for the deputies."

Allman also spoke to the perception that conditions concerning law enforcement and medical marijuana production are spinning out of control.

"When Tony Craver was sheriff, we didn't have out-of-control situations," Allman said. Under Craver, he noted, the county had a clear policy and the sheriff made the deputies followed that policy. He said currently that's not the case, and suggested Broin has been remiss in directing his deputies.

Broin dropped a minor bombshell when he said current conditions a perhaps $10 billion marijuana industry in Mendocino County (as estimated by The Willits News), two people shot dead in Covelo, others arrested in Willits with night-vision goggles and a submachine gun in their trunk, did not sprout up in the past 10 months, during which time Broin has been serving as sheriff. He suggested the condition arose, at least partially, during the previous eight years while Craver was sheriff.

"All those years, my former boss (Craver) would tell me, 'Don't tell me where my officers are going when they go out on raids. I don't want to know.'"

"I'm not like that," Broin said. "I want to know. If something is going on, I want to know about it. And if they have to take a law enforcement action, I will take responsibility for that action."

"Tony Craver was a good sheriff," Allman retorted. "The most important thing he taught me was to listen. You can't listen if you're talking."

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Supes to consider medical marijuana guidelines

Postby palmspringsbum » Sun Nov 05, 2006 10:13 am

The Willits News wrote:Supes to consider medical marijuana guidelines

By Mike A'Dair/TWN Staff Writer
The Willits News
Article Launched:10/27/2006 11:38:55 AM PDT

At its Oct. 24th meeting, the county Board of Supervisors voted to discuss establishing county guidelines for the growing and production of medical marijuana.

The board voted to empower its Criminal Justice standing committee, which is chaired by Jim Wattenberger (Second Dist.) and of which Michael Delbar (First District) also is a member, to take up the issue at the beginning of next year.

The board agreed to discuss an array of issues related to medical marijuana, including reviewing zoning and considering various regulations having to do with the establishment of medical marijuana dispensaries, reviewing possible legislation on taxation of medical marijuana, reviewing Senate Bill 420 limitations, considering whether the county's Public Health division could use asset forfeiture revenues for education and prevention, considering county legislation on safe and non-toxic growing techniques of medical marijuana and reviewing an array of penalties and assessments relative to illegal marijuana growing operations.

In addition, the committee will consider various policy options affecting patients, including a definition of the term "seriously ill patients" and other regulations affecting the production, distribution and transportation of medical marijuana.

Speaking during the lunch break in his office, Wattenberger was asked if the board would be addressing such topics as price control. "Yes," he said. "It is my understanding that Senate Bill 420 means that medical marijuana growers can charge enough to recover their costs and to make some profit. It seems to me that a lot of medical marijuana growers have been charging a lot more than that."

Wattenberger said that he supports clarifying the county's policy on medical marijuana. "This is legal activity," he said. "We want to address it as legal activity. There are holes in Prop 215 and in (Senate Bill) 420 and we are going to try to close those loop holes.

The letter of the law is, medical marijuana is legal in California, and by God, I am going to uphold the letter of the law."

Wattenberger promised that the meetings would be publicly noticed.

The board also expressed the possibility that the matter could be passed on to an ad hoc committee dedicated exclusively to medical marijuana issues, and agreed to the principle that the meetings of such an ad hoc committee would be publicly noticed also.

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Court orders new election for D.A. post

Postby palmspringsbum » Wed Nov 22, 2006 2:15 pm

The San Francisco Chronicle wrote:MENDOCINO COUNTY

Court orders new election for D.A. post

Incumbent's death during race forces county to start over

Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer
The San Francisco Chronicle
Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A state appeals court ordered Mendocino County on Tuesday to hold a new election for district attorney and seal the results of the Nov. 7 election because the incumbent died shortly before the vote.

A state law, passed after a similar election 20 years ago, requires a special election whenever an incumbent and a single challenger are running for a nonpartisan office such as district attorney and one of them dies within 68 days of the election, said the First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco.

The two-term incumbent Mendocino district attorney, 69-year-old Norman Vroman, died of a heart attack Sept. 21 -- 47 days before the election. He remained on the ballot, running against Meredith Lintott, a Fort Bragg attorney and former deputy district attorney who got the most votes among three candidates in the June primary but fell short of a majority.

The ruling Tuesday allows Keith Faulder, Vroman's former assistant who has been acting district attorney since Vroman's death, to run against Lintott. Faulder did not run in the primary.

Other candidates could enter as well, and another runoff is possible if no one gets a majority. The county has 88 days to schedule the election.

Vroman, who ran second in the primary, was well known as a maverick lawman who endorsed medical marijuana and served a federal prison term in 1990 for not paying his income taxes. Supporters urged residents to vote for him after he died, hoping that county supervisors could choose his successor. No vote totals from Nov. 7 have been released.

In court, county officials, joined by Lintott, relied on a long-standing state law that allows votes for an incumbent to be counted even if he is dead. Under that law, Lintott would have become district attorney if she won a majority, and supervisors would have made the choice if Vroman won.

But the three-judge panel said a 1986 law, enacted after the pre-election death of San Mateo County Sheriff Brendon Maguire, is a more specific statute that governs two-candidate, nonpartisan races.

Lintott said she disagrees with the ruling and might appeal to the state Supreme Court. She said election officials in other counties agree with Mendocino's interpretation of the law.

"We've already had two elections, and now we're looking at four to elect a district attorney,'' Lintott said.

Faulder's lawyer, Philip DeJong, said a new election makes sense after the death of an incumbent, whose candidacy discouraged other prosecutors from seeking the office.

"People are very reluctant to run against the boss, and rightfully so,'' he said. Now, "I think there are going to be other good candidates.''

E-mail Bob Egelko at

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Allman, Baldwin declared winners

Postby palmspringsbum » Thu Nov 23, 2006 3:48 pm

The Ukiah Daily Journal wrote:Allman, Baldwin declared winners

By K.C. Meadows The Daily Journal
Ukiah Daily Journal
Article Last Updated:11/23/2006 09:43:05 AM PST

Lt. Tom Allman is Mendocino County's new Sheriff.

Ukiah City Councilman Phil Baldwin will retain his seat.

Mendocino County Clerk Marsha Wharff unexpectedly issued the final Nov. 7 election results Wednesday evening just before 6 p.m. eliminating the suspense over these two races that has kept candidates in limbo for two weeks.

Allman won the Sheriff's race with 53.9 percent of the vote (15,924 votes) to Kevin Broin's 45.92 percent (13,566 votes).

Allman said Wednesday night he's looking forward to the job.

"I'm just really excited about getting started on all the ideas we talked about," he said, noting he'd just gotten off the phone with popular former Sheriff Tony Craver who had endorsed him in the race.

"I told Tony, you had a lot of good ideas and programs that I am going to keep going or improve," Allman said.

Allman will likely be sworn in on Jan. 9.

He will take over the job from his opponent and current Acting Sheriff, Capt. Kevin Broin, who also outranks him.

"I'm really hoping that we're going to have a smooth transition," he said. "No one has heard me say Kevin has done a bad job and I hope to rely on Kevin's experience."

Broin was unavailable for comment Wednesday night.

Allman's relationship with Craver - who, with the late Norm Vroman, instituted the first local medical marijuana ID card system in the state - gave him credibility with the medical marijuana community and its supporters, who feared changes Broin might bring in the attitude of law enforcement toward them.

Allman said his position is simply that medical marijuana is a reality and shouldn't tie law enforcement in knots.

"I just want to get past the Prop. 215 issue so the Sheriff of the county can do the public safety duties that he's supposed to do," he said.

Allman acknowledged that waiting for the results of the election was hard.

"I'll sleep better tonight than I have the last couple weeks." he said.

In the Ukiah City Council race, early results had a three-way contest going for the third open seat among Phil Baldwin, Mike Whetzel and Jeanne Metcalf. Baldwin took the seat with 15.46 percent or 1,639 votes. Whetzel had 15.02 percent or 1,593 votes and Metcalf 14.66 percent and 1,555 votes.

Baldwin's win will be seen by supporters as vindication of the controversial councilman who was heavily targeted by some local business interests who believe him to be an obstruction to growth and development. Baldwin's win also means that the three winning City Council candidates were all voluntarily limiting campaign spending under the city's new campaign finance ordinance.

Baldwin was unavailable for comment Wednesday night.

John McCowen and Benj Thomas were clear winners Nov. 7 even with unclear results and their final tallies are McCowen 21.17 percent and 2,245 votes and Thomas 19.87 percent and 2,107 votes.

Last was Jim Mulheren with 13.44 percent and 1,425 votes.

All the local propositions maintained their winning status. The final tally for the city's Measure X bed tax was 53.34 percent yes, for the county's Iraq war Measure Y, 67.27 percent yes, and the college bond Measure W, 63.12 percent yes.

Find the full countywide results on the Daily Journal Web page at

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Final election tallies issued

Postby palmspringsbum » Thu Nov 30, 2006 1:11 pm

The Ft. Bragg Advocate-News wrote:Final election tallies issued

By Advocate Staff --
Ft. Bragg Advocate-News
Article Last Updated:11/30/2006 10:00:45 AM PST

Tom Allman will replace Tony Craver as sheriff of Mendocino County. He will also be replacing acting sheriff Kevin Broin, the man who outranks him and the man he ran against for the job.

Mendocino County Clerk Marsha Wharff unexpectedly issued the final Nov. 7 election results Wednesday, Nov. 22, eliminating the suspense over the final outcome of the race which was not to have been finalized until Dec. 5.

Allman received 53.9 percent of the vote in the Nov. 7 election while Broin tallied 45.92 percent.

Allman had received the endorsement of former sheriff Tony Craver and had shaped his platform around the continuation of many of the programs Craver had instituted, especially the medical marijuana program and the Prop 215 card, while promising to improve on them.

The new sheriff will likely be sworn in on Jan. 9.

In other election results, the four-way race for three seats on the Mendocino Coast Hospital District Board went to incumbent John Kermen, O.D., with 27.18 percent, Michael Dell'Ara with 24.34 percent, and Joe Flower with 24.12 percent. Seventy votes separated Flower from incumbent Jim Hay.

In the Fort Bragg City Council election, incumbents Dave Turner and Dan Gjerde were returned to office, joined by Meg Courtney. Don Romelli received 24.94 percent of the vote, Judy Williams, 14.22 percent, and incumbent Brian Baltierra 4.29 percent.

A special council meeting is scheduled at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 5 to certify the election results, swear in Turner, Courtney and Gjerde, and select a mayor and vice mayor. An informal reception will be held at 6 p.m. at Town Hall; coffee, punch, and desserts will be served.

Mendocino Unified School District's bond Measure AA drew 70.92 percent approval. Countywide Measure Y, bring the troops home from Iraq, finished with 67.17 percent of the yes vote.

The county's voter turnout in the Nov. 7 election was 65.91 percent.

Final results in all races are posted on the county's Website.

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Locals' input for Allman

Postby palmspringsbum » Wed Jan 17, 2007 12:18 am

The Ukiah Daily Journal wrote:
Locals' input for Allman

By ZACK SAMPSEL The Daily Journal
Ukiah Daily Journal
Article Last Updated:01/08/2007 08:50:32 AM PST

<table class=posttable align=right width=300><tr><td class=postcell><img class=postimg src=bin/hunt_tom-and-leigh.jpg></td></tr><tr><td class=postcap>Tom and Leigh Hunt discuss their hopes that newly-elected Sheriff Tom Allman will rid Mendocino County of its methamphetamine problem. </td></tr></table>Before Tom Allman is sworn in Tuesday as the new sheriff of Mendocino County, area residents offered some input about the issues they hope Allman will address in the upcoming year.

One of the first issues most residents brought up was methamphetamine. Residents like Tom and Leigh Hunt and Lilianne Zucker expressed concern not only about the abuse of meth, but also the manufacturing of the drug.

"I'm all for the elimination of the drug labs," Tom Hunt said. "The problem is so rampant, and people don't realize that it's being made in basements and even in the woods. It's hard to fully understand how bad the problem is."

The toxic and hazardous waste produced in the manufacture of meth is something congress is addressing as well. According to a press release from the House of Representatives, "The byproducts created from the cooking of meth infiltrate every fabric of the environment where meth is produced rendering the space uninhabitable."

The harm to the environment concerened Hunt's wife Leigh.

"Meth, what a big problem that is," she said. "And the biggest problem with it is all the toxicity that just get's left behind."

Although residents cited varying aspects of meth as the biggest problem in Mendocino County, it was clear that meth is a problem people expect to be addressed soon.

"I believe getting rid of meth around here would be a great thing for Mendocino County," Zucker said. "But I also feel that letting people continue to grow their marijuana is also a good thing for the people who need it here. I believe marijuana in controlled doses is good for some people."

Zucker's comments rang true with many Ukiah-area residents. Lynn Donohue expressed her concern for Allman to follow through with the promises made during his campaign and work closely with medical-marijuana patients.

Another issue that heavy on the minds of people is curbing the gang-related violence in Ukiah.

"I can't remember gang activity like this as a child," said Shawn Mendelson, 37, a Mendocino County native. "I think we need to promote more noticeable projects and activities for the kids to be a part of."

Leigh Hunt also agreed that stopping gang violence can only be solved by providing more opportunities to students, as well as law enforcement working closely with schools and students to find positive alternatives.

"A lot of kids are short-changed," Leigh Hunt said. "It's a shame that we only see how we are. We need to look to our own neighborhoods to help."

Mendelson also said he would like for students involved with gangs to be more educated about what their choices lead to. Mendelson said he thought less incarceration could be supplemented by more counseling and rehabilitation.

Beyond just the pressing issues in Mendocino County, residents also hope Allman will be a positive inlfuence on the county. Residents explained their concern for Allman to keep in contact with the people and to promote communication amongst the many races in the county.

"I really hope Allman tries to promote good ethnic and racial relations," Donohue said. "It would be nice to see a postive sheriff taking positive actions here in Ukiah and all over Mendocino County."

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Norman to fill interim DA post

Postby palmspringsbum » Wed Jan 17, 2007 2:49 am

The Ukiah Daily Journal wrote:Norman to fill interim DA post

By BEN BROWN The Daily Journal
Ukiah Daily Journal
Article Last Updated: 01/10/2007 08:44:42 AM PST

The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors did not reappoint Assistant District Attorney Keith Faulder to the position of interim district attorney at its Tuesday meeting, instead choosing Deputy District Attorney Elizabeth Norman for the job.

"I hope to take his (Faulder's) lead and keep our office running as smoothly as possible," Norman said.

Norman was sworn in to her new position after the meeting by Clerk of the Board Kristi Furman.

County CEO Al Beltrami said he considered several people to recommend to the board for the position of interim DA. After circumstances forced several of them to opt out of consideration, Beltrami chose Norman, citing her long experience in the DA's Office.

Third District Supervisor John Pinches said he supported Beltrami's decision, but was concerned that the special election could end up like last year's sheriff's race, in which Capt. Kevin Broin was appointed acting sheriff and then later announced his intention to run for sheriff.

Norman spoke to the board of her lack of political ambitions.

"I have no interest in running whatsoever," she said. "I'm a little sweaty-handed just being here."

The board cited the need for a "level playing field" among special election candidates as the reason it did not reappoint Faulder to the office of interim DA.

Faulder was appointed to the top post in September after former DA Norman Vroman died. That appointment ended Monday but before it did, Faulder announced his intention to run for DA in a special election.

The board thanked Faulder for taking on the job of interim DA and stressed that its decision not to reappoint him as interim DA had nothing to do with his recent defeat of the board in both the California Appellate and Supreme Courts over whether or not to hold a special election.

"No candidate should have an advantage over any other candidate," said 2nd District Supervisor Jim Wattenburger. "An even playing field is the order of my day.'

"This is not an expression of any sentiment about your performance," said 5th District Supervisor David Colfax.

Faulder thanked the board for giving him the opportunity to work as the district attorney for the last three months.

"I want to thank you for entrusting the office to me," Faulder said.

Not everyone was pleased with the board's appointment. Pebbles Trippet of the Medical Marijuana Advisory Board said Faulder has been both accessible and reasonable as interim DA while working with her.

"This level playing field idea is not always a good theory," Trippet said.

The board also voted to schedule the special election for the DA's race for April 3. The item appeared on the consent calender but was pulled after Wattenburger and Colfax indicated they would vote against scheduling the election.

The special election was ordered by the California First District Appellate Court on Nov. 21 in response to a writ filed by Faulder. The appellate court's decision was affirmed Dec. 21 by the California Supreme Court.

"I do not believe our issues got a fair hearing before the appellate court," Wattenburger said. "I will be voting for this because we have no other way to go."

County Counsel Jeanine Nadel urged the supervisors to vote to approve the election and avoid being held in contempt by the First District Appellate Court.

"I know this is a hard pill to swallow," Nadel said. "It's a hard pill for me to swallow."

The motion to schedule the election passed unanimously. Candidates will have until Jan. 25 to file nomination papers, said Mendocino County Clerk-Assessor-Recorder Marsha Wharff.

So far, only Faulder and Fort Bragg Attorney Meredith Lintott have announced their intention to run, although there have been rumors that the race will contain as many as six candidates.

Wharff said it is not known what form the election will take, whether it will be a primary and a general or a simple general election.

She said the election is expected to cost $150,000.

Ben Brown can be reached at

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Allman lays out his plan

Postby palmspringsbum » Wed Jan 17, 2007 2:53 pm

The Ukiah Daily Journal wrote:Allman lays out his plan

By BEN BROWN The Daily Journal
Ukiah Daily Journal
Article Last Updated:01/12/2007 08:36:03 AM PST

Community response and inmate rehabilitation will be the watchwords of newly elected Sheriff Tom Allman's term in office.

"Law enforcement cannot be the solution to all of societies problems," Allman said.

Rehabilitation can begin at the jail, Allman said, new programs at the jail are being used to alleviate pressure there.

"If I walk you through the jail right now I can show you empty cells," Allman said.

One of these programs allows for the pretrial probation release of non-violent first-time offenders. This program is coordinated through the Mendocino County Probation Department.

Allman also hopes to institute an honor farm for non-violent drug offenders.

"It's something we could absolutely use for rehabilitation," he said.

Allman said people have argued that a jail garden would not be likely to bring in much money but Allman said money is not the issue as building a new wing of the jail would have no rehabilitative effect.

"I would be foolhardy to continue what we are doing because it is not working as well as we would like it to work," Allman said.

In March of 2005 the Board of Supervisors received a report that said a $150 million integrated justice complex, which would include the jail, the courts and offices for the district attorney and alternate defender would be needed to correct the problems.

Allman said he is not sure that is what is needed now. He said plans for any new complex are still in the talking and research stage.

Drugs were also a big issue during the sheriff's race and Allman became well known for his saying that the sheriff's office needs to spend more time prosecuting methamphetamine and less time investigating legitimate users of medical marijuana.

Allman said, working 25 years for the sheriff's office he has seen several generations of one family "absolutely devastated" by methamphetamine use

"If that doesn't change the way you think about methamphetamine, nothing will," he said.

Allman said he is planning to use a community response to help battle the methamphetamine problem. This will include working with community members to help them recognize methamphetamine labs, helping business' recognize the items methamphetamine cooks regularly buy and letting people know that the sheriff's office will respond to their calls.

The sheriffs office will also work with those who are on methamphetamine to find the support they need to get off drugs.

"We're not going to stop methamphetamine," Allman said. "But we will have an impact on how it effects the community."

Allman also became well known during the campaign for connecting methamphetamine use and production to gangs and gang-violence in Mendocino County.

"You show me a gangster and I'll show you a crankster," Allman was known so say.

Allman favors a similar approach to gangs as he does to methamphetamine. He said that gangs need to be dealt with as a community, this includes including getting young people involved with social activities like the Boys and Girls club.

"We have to have alternate activities for young people," Allman said. "A child will look up to whoever pays attention to them."

Allman also become known for his stance on medical marijuana, that was similar to that of former Sheriff Tony Craver.

He said he plans to move away from prosecuting legitimate medical marijuana users so he can focus time and money on prosecuting methamphetamine and gang crime.

Allman said he has never smoked marijuana and did not vote for Proposition 215 but said he intends to follow the will of the voters.

"How far are we going to go before we recognize that Prop 215 is the law?" he said.

Allman said he still planned to prosecute commercial marijuana growers and anyone abusing medical marijuana.

"The people who want to move to our county to and want to make a million dollars growing marijuana will still go to jail," he said.

Since taking office, Allman has been working on a plan he proposed during the campaign to sell color-coded zip-ties with serial numbers on them to medical marijuana growers that would give the sheriff's office a quick way to know if a grower is in compliance.

Allman said the money made from selling the zip-ties at $10 apiece could fund positions for three new deputy sheriffs who could be dedicated to medical marijuana enforcement.

Taking staff off of medical marijuana prosecution and putting them on more serious crimes would be one way to tackle the staffing problem at the sheriff's office. Allman said the sheriff's office is budgeted for 48 deputies and currently has 42.

Allman said he hopes to recruit more local deputies who will not leave the community after a few years for higher-paying jobs in other counties.

Top-level staff is expected to stay largely the same under Allman. Gary Hudson will continue to serve as under-sheriff, and Allman said he has asked his opponent in the sheriff's race, Capt. Kevin Broin, to keep his position as patrol Capt.

"I hope he stays," Allman said.

Broin has not said what he plans to do or if he intends to stay with the sheriff's office.

Allman said there will be an interim commander for the North Sector until a permanent replacement could be found. Allman did not release the commanders name because no one had been chosen yet.

Allman said he is not worried about friction among the staff, many of whom supported Broin during the election, including the full deputy sheriff's association.

"The election is over," Allman said. "It doesn't matter who won and who lost and who was supported by whom. The business we have to do is too important."

Ben Brown can be reached at

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Third entry in race for DA

Postby palmspringsbum » Wed Jan 17, 2007 4:52 pm

Finding new ways to use asset-forfeiture money would be another priority for Schlosser. He said he hoped to spend some of that money on the skate park, Little League fields and the Boys and Girls Club.

"We bring in thousands of dollars a year from drug dealers and other criminals. Not all of that money has to go to bulletproof vests and cars for DA staff members," he said.

The Ukiah DailyJournal wrote:Third entry in race for DA

<table class=posttable align=right width=140><tr><td class=postcell><img class=postimg src=bin/schlosser_bert.jpg></td></tr></table>Ukiah Daily Journal Staff
Ukiah Daily Journal
Article Last Updated:01/13/2007 08:34:57 AM PST

Deputy Alternate Public Defender Bert Schlosser, an 18-year veteran of Mendocino County's courtrooms, has announced his intention to run for district attorney.

Schlosser has served the county as both a public and alternate defender since 1989.

"I've worked to protect the rights of those accused of crimes," Schlosser said. "I'm proud to have devoted my skills and energies in helping defend people. Now I'm ready to apply those skills to protecting citizens from the ravages of crime."

Schlosser said he has more trial experience than any other candidate currently in the race and cites his extensive trial experience, arguing in cases from misdemeanors to first-degree murder, as the reason he feels he would be well placed as the county's top prosecutor.

"I've tried cases in Covelo, Leggett, Willits, Fort Bragg, Point Arena, Ukiah and Boonville," he said. "I've tried cases in places my opponents have probably never visited."

Schlosser said his top prosecutorial priorities as DA would be gangs, methamphetamine and elder abuse.

"I'd recommend that people who mistreat old folks, want to join a gang or use meth plan on moving out of Mendocino County," he said. "My goal is to make life very hard for them. I'll put them out of business. I'll put them in jail."

Other focuses would include implementation and facilitation of medical marijuana laws.

"I want sick people to feel better, and if marijuana works for them I'm willing to help," Schlosser said.

He also made clear his support of the county's concealed carry program.

"I want citizens to feel safe as they go about their business; being legally armed is a proven way to accomplish that," he said.

Schlosser said he would also emphasize bringing the District Attorney's Office budget in line with the rest of the county.

"The days of fighting with the supervisors and county officials over ever-increasing monies for the District Attorney's Office are over," Schlosser said. "I realize the county has limited resources and plenty of other worthwhile needs. I'll fashion a budget mindful of that."

Finding new ways to use asset-forfeiture money would be another priority for Schlosser. He said he hoped to spend some of that money on the skate park, Little League fields and the Boys and Girls Club.

"We bring in thousands of dollars a year from drug dealers and other criminals. Not all of that money has to go to bulletproof vests and cars for DA staff members," he said.

Schlosser joins Assistant District Attorney Keith Faulder and Fort Bragg attorney Meredith Lintott as candidates in the special election for district attorney. The election is scheduled for April 3.

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2 plead no contest in medical pot raid

Postby palmspringsbum » Thu Feb 01, 2007 3:37 pm

The Ukiah Daily Journal wrote:2 plead no contest in medical pot raid

By BEN BROWN The Daily Journal
Ukiah Daily Journal
Article Last Updated: 02/01/2007 08:43:24 AM PST

David Moore and Mike Schneider, two of six employees who were arrested during a November 2005 raid on the MendoHealing medical marijuana farm, pleaded no contest to drug charges Wednesday in a deal that spared the other four defendants from prosecution.

Moore and Schneider, along with Christopher Holland, Jesse Lebus and Frank and Monica Kemper, were charged with drug offenses following a November 2005 raid on the MendoHealing medical marijuana garden near Fort Bragg.

The raid was conducted by Fort Bragg Police and deputies from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office, who seized 1,707 plants and 1,000 pounds of processed marijuana.

Moore, represented by Doron Weinberg, pleaded no contest to charges of possession of marijuana for sale. Schneider, represented by Ann Moorman, pleaded no contest to charges of cultivation of marijuana.

As a condition of the pleas, Deputy District Attorney James Nerli dropped all charges against the other four defendants.

Other conditions of the plea deal were that neither Moore, nor Schneider be required to serve their sentence in state prison and that their sentences were not to exceed a certain time limit.

Moore is not to serve more than six months in county jail and six months summary probation. The maximum sentence for possession for sale is three years in jail and three years probation.

Schneider made a similar deal; his sentence is not to exceed 90 days in county jail.

Both men will also have to register as drug offenders in Mendocino County.

Superior Court Judge David Nelson said pleas entered in this case would not affect any potential federal prosecution.

Moore and Schneider are scheduled to face sentencing at 2:30 p.m. April 27.

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Pot card talks to continue

Postby palmspringsbum » Tue Feb 20, 2007 6:34 pm

The Ukiah Daily Journal wrote:
Pot card talks to continue

By KATIE MINTZ The Daily Journal
Ukiah Daily Journal
Article Last Updated: 02/14/2007 08:42:46 AM PST

The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors pushed off approval of the state's drastically increased fee for issuing medical marijuana identification cards Tuesday until having at least another discussion about the program.

Currently, in Mendocino County, the annual cost for a card is $70 -- $57 of which covers the county's cost for verifying and processing the application, and $13 of which goes to the state for maintaining the program and printing the card.

According to interim Health and Human Services Agency Director Ana Mahoney, the state will increase its portion of the application fee from $13 to $142 effective March 1 in an attempt to cover its costs.

"The fee has been increased by the state of California, and in all their wisdom, they keep on passing it through to us to collect, and that's why it's before you," Mahoney told the board Tuesday. "Although it's not a mandatory program and people do not have to apply, we do have quite a few people in our county who have applied for and have medical marijuana cards and this is going to put a dent in their pockets."

If the state's portion of the fee is approved, an ID card in the county would cost $199 for medical marijuana patients and caregivers. Medi-Cal beneficiaries would continue to receive a 50 percent discount, resulting in a fee of $99.50.

On Tuesday, comments from the board and members of the public went beyond discussion of the state's fee increase to conversation on the status of medicinal and non-medicinal marijuana use and cultivation in the county.

"This whole issue of marijuana has got so convoluted and confusing," Supervisor John Pinches said of the discrepancies in allowances from county to county and between California and federal law, which maintains that any use of marijuana, medicinal or not, is illegal.

"I just can't buy into this fee, and I think it is time we have to start telling the state and federal government that what they're doing on the issue isn't acceptable and we need some changes," Pinches said. "(With the) feds trying to ignore it and the states trying to charge money for it, we need to look at the whole issue of marijuana and look into the realization that after 40 years it has to be legalized just like we realized at the end of Prohibition that alcohol was something they were going to have to deal with."

Supervisor David Colfax also said he couldn't support a fee increase, and advocated a change in legislation toward legalization of marijuana.

"What I suggest we do is get out of the business of charging for medical marijuana cards, we get out of the business of evaluating the validity of requests for medical marijuana, and honor the ballot measure that was put out there years ago and start advocating for the legalization and for the non-criminalization of marijuana," Colfax said. "Otherwise, we're finding ourselves issuing a permit that permits you to do essentially nothing."

However, Supervisor Jim Wattenburger said the cards do provide some value to medical marijuana patients who elect to carry them.

"The issue before us today is a program that...might not be the overall best way to approach it, but it's the best attempt to protect the legitimate people who need marijuana in their travels throughout California," Wattenburger said.

According to County Counsel Jeanine Nadel, the cards assist law enforcement officers when they make traffic stops or otherwise come into contact with people possessing marijuana. While only a doctor's recommendation is actually necessary for legal medicinal use, the voluntary cards show officers that that doctor's recommendation has been processed and approved by the county and state.

"If we take a step back and go back to either no cards or a county card, we're restricting their legal activity to within the boundaries of this county, so it's a step backwards," Wattenburger said.

The only other option to avoid increasing the fee for applicants, Wattenburger said, would be for the county to cover the state's portion of the fee. With the 755 cards issued between June 2005 and December 2006, the county would have a tough time doing that, he said.

After a 2-2 vote to deny the fee increase, Supervisor Michael Delbar absent and Chairwoman Kendall Smith and Supervisor Wattenburger dissenting, the board decided to continue the discussion to its next meeting to allow for members of the public who use the ID card program and law enforcement officials to weigh in on the topic.

Supervisors will return to discussion of the issue at their next meeting, Feb. 27. at 11:30 a.m. in Board Chambers in the County Administration Center, 501 Low Gap Road, Ukiah.

Katie Mintz can be reached at

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Pot ordinance stirs passions

Postby palmspringsbum » Mon Dec 17, 2007 9:20 pm

The Willits News wrote:Pot ordinance stirs passions

by Mike A'Dair, Willits News
November 16th, 2007

Supervisors will consider a new, more restrictive medical marijuana ordinance at their December 5 meeting. The measure was returned to County Counsel Jeanine Nadel for review following the board's November 6 meeting after Supervisor John Pinches, father of the main concept behind the ordinance, said he would not support it, and Nadel said she needed to take a second look before the proposed ordinance came to a vote.

The ordinance is the work of the board's Criminal Justice Committee, supervisors Jim Wattenburger and Michael Delbar. The two have been meeting monthly since January.

In August, supervisors rejected proposals by Delbar to impose a six-plant limit and by Wattenburger's to impose an 18-plant limit, making 25 plants the upper limit in deference to Measure G, approved by county voters in 2000. But that limitation was for each card held by a qualified caregiver; no limitation was imposed on how many patients a medical marijuana provider could grow for.

At the board's August 7 meeting, Pinches proposed allowing growers to cultivate more than 25 plants if they secured a county use permit. Pinches' proposal contained no upper limit to the number of plants a grower could cultivate.

That part of his idea was not included in the new proposed ordinance.

The ordinance under consideration at the December 5 meeting has five major provisions:<ol><li>"the cultivation of more than 25 marijuana plants on any legal parcel, either inside or outside, within the unincorporated area of the county, is a public nuisance."</li>

<li>"All plants must have zip-ties on them or they will be deemed illegal plants and confiscated or destroyed."</li>

<li>"Wherever medical marijuana is grown, a current and valid, original, state-issued medical marijuana card must be displayed in such a manner as to allow law enforcement officers to easily see the card without having to enter any building of any type."</li>

<li>"People who are cultivating medical marijuana who are not the legal owner of the parcel where the marijuana is being grown "must give written notice to the legal owner of the parcel prior to commencement of cultivation" and also "shall obtain written consent from said owner to cultivate marijuana on the parcel" and</li>

<li>The cultivation of marijuana, in any amount or quantity, willl not be allowed within 500 feet of a youth-oriented facility, a school, park, school bus stop or church.</li>
At the November meeting, Pinches argued that putting in the first part of his idea without the second part was unfair.

"If you just leave it at 25 plants per parcel, without that other part I recommended, then that means that only the person who owns the piece of land can grow medical marijuana," he said later. "That's discriminatory.

"Now the other way with that second provision in there that would mean that if somebody owned some land, and say he had three friends who were caregivers but who weren't lucky enough to own any land those three friends could grow on the first guy's land...with his permission. And they would have to get a minor use permit from the county to show how they were going to take care of various problems that occur with growing marijuana."

Deputy County Counsel Doug Losak, however, said the county's legal team had advised supervisors against including that section in the proposed ordinance.

"In our view that provision violates the Fifth Amendment (to the Constitution) which prohibits self-incrimination," he said.

Seven Robinson Creek-area residents appeared before the board of supervisors on Tuesday to complain that conditions surrounding widespread marijuana cultivation were getting out of control.

"I came up here from the big city, came up to country to live my dream, I had my baby, and then I thought, 'Oh my God, I can no longer go outside because of the gun fire,'" said grape-grower Andrea Silverstein.

"People are getting fed up with the situation," said Matt Davis, another Robinson Creek-area resident. "A lot of animals are getting gut-shot and being left out to die. I'm worried about all the water use. I worry about the animals not having enough water."

Silverstein, Davis and the other five Robinson Creek-area residents said they favored the proposed ordinance, while Colleen Schenk of the Anderson Valley Action Committee requested the distance limitations be increased to 1,000 feet to agree with those encoded in the school drug-free zone policy.

Willits resident Laura McBride, who suffers seasonally from debilitating sinus problems due to marijuana cultivation near her home, offered her advice to those who were listening. "My advice is [to]sue your neighbors," McBride said. "We have rights, too. We have a right to fresh air."

Former Willits City Councilman Ron Orenstein told supervisors, "I think it's pretty damned embarrassing to be living in this county now. We're saying, you don't have to have any kind of ambition, you don't have to leave any kind of legacy all you have to do is grow pot and make money."

Ukiah attorney Keith Faulder, who said he was representing the Mendocino Medical Marijuana Advisory Board, attacked the proposed ordinance on a number of legal points, arguing the findings were "not supported by objective, empirical data," that the ordinance itself is "unconstitutionally unreasonable because it attempts to set arbitrary limits on the number of plants a person can own" and violates the state constitution because it "attempts to amend two initiative statues without the approval of the electors."

And pro-pot New Settler magazine publisher Beth Bosk demanded the board study what the impact of approving the ordinance would be on the county's economy.
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Board sets limits to medical marijuana industry

Postby palmspringsbum » Thu Dec 20, 2007 9:58 pm

The Willits News wrote:Board sets limits to medical marijuana industry

by Mike A'Dair, Willits News (CA)
December 14th, 2007

On a 3-2 vote, supervisors Tuesday approved an ordinance limiting the number of medical marijuana plants that can be grown in unincorporated areas of Mendocino County to 25 plants per assessor's parcel.

Supervisors Jim Wattenburger, Kendall Smith and David Colfax voted for the measure; while supervisors John Pinches and Michael Delbar opposed it.

Pinches voted against it because he thought the measure too restrictive; Delbar voted against it because he thought it was not restrictive enough.

Before the vote, Ross Liberty, who lives on Highway 253 southwest of Ukiah, warned supervisors the decision they were about to make would be historical.

"What this board is faced with is, is what does this county want itself to be? You are at a crossroads. This place is horrendous to do business. You can't find a vendor. You can't find employees. You can't have it both ways. We're either going to be a county of drug-dealers or we're gonna be a county of working folk. You guys get to decide that today."

The ordinance is the product of nearly a year of work on the part of the board of supervisors' Criminal Justice Committee, chaired by Wattenburger and rounded out by Delbar.

The heart of the ordinance states: "The cultivation of more than 25 marijuana plants on any legal parcel, either inside or outside, within the unincorporated area of the county, is a pubic nuisance. This limitation shall be imposed regardless of the number of qualified patients residing at such location. Further, this limitation shall be imposed notwithstanding any assertion that the person(s) cultivating marijuana are the caregiver(s) for qualified patients."

<span class=postbold>New version weaker than October draft</span>

In other sections, the ordinance backs off on previous attempts to close loopholes against the medical marijuana industry, which many county residents have claimed is "out of control."

Draft versions ordinance had stated "Wherever medical marijuana is grown, a current and valid, original, state-issued marijuana card or physician recommendation must be displayed in such a manner as to allow law enforcement officers to easily see the card without having to enter any building of any type."

The version of the ordinance as passed required only that a copy of card or the physician's recommendation may be posted.

The final ordinance also softened language requiring marijuana grown for medicinal purposes have "zip ties" issued by the Mendocino County's Sheriff's Office.

The final version of the ordinance also softened posting language, requiring anyone not the legal owner of a parcel and is cultivating marijuana on the land to give written notice to the legal owner before commencing cultivation and post notice at the site that the landowner has been informed.

<span class=postbold>Allman likes it; Pinches, Delbar don't</span>

The changes were made by County Counsel Jeanine Nadel, who told the board she didn't feel she had legal basis to require more. The changes were apparently sufficient to cause Supervisor Michael Delbar to vote against the ordinance.

Before the vote, Delbar asked Nadel to put the old wording back on at least some of the points.

Delbar also asked Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman whether he felt jettisoning the requirement that original medical marijuana cards be posted would enable dishonest growers to trick law enforcement.

"In answer to your question, 'How are we not going to get snookered?' well, we're cops, and they're robbers--and, well, we're gonna get snookered," Allman conceded.

But when asked by board Chairwoman Kendall Smith what he thought the effect would be if the ordinance was approved, Allman said, "If this passes, we are going to see caregivers saying, 'We've got to be reasonable with our neighbors.'" Later he added, "If this ordinance passes, we will see much more compliance with medical marijuana laws." Supervisor John Pinches submitted a counterproposal before the Criminal Justice Committee's draft had gone to a final vote.

Pinches' two-tiered proposal would have removed all numerical limitations on the cultivation of medical marijuana. The lowest level stipulated that "not more than two 25 mature plant medical marijuana gardens, separated by a barrier" would be allowed per legal parcel (without a use permit.)

Pinches said he wanted to double the allowed plant count to accommodate instances in which a parcel was jointly owned, perhaps by a husband and wife, or by two people in a domestic partnership. Then both co-owners could legally grow medical marijuana.

The second tier stated people who are growing " 51 or more mature medical marijuana plants must obtain a conditional use permit to address issues such as needed security, air quality, traffic and impacts on water, wildlife, water, etc."

The other supervisors showed little interest in Pinches' offering. At one point Smith said the county did not have sufficient staff to deal with all the use permits that would be requested of the Planning and Building Department, nor did it have sufficient staff in the Tax Collector's office to deal with applications for zip ties.

Pinches said he could not support the CJC version of the ordinance. Noting a consultant who had been hired by the county earlier this year had estimated that the marijuana industry represented two-thirds of the county's economy, Pinches said, "There's parts of the economy that I want to protect. People up in my district, with the demise of the timber industry the way it is now, I don't want to take away their last sliver of hope."

The board decided to postpone discussion on a proposed marijuana dispensary ordinance until early next year.
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Mendocino County voters to reassess pot law in June election

Postby palmspringsbum » Wed Jan 09, 2008 3:36 pm

The Santa Rosa Press-Democrat wrote:Mendocino County voters to reassess pot law in June election

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

UKIAH - Mendocino County voters in June will decide the fate of a 7-year-old landmark marijuana ordinance that was the first in the nation to decriminalize personal use of pot.

At the end of a contentious three-hour public hearing Tuesday, the county Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 to put Measure G up for voter review in the June 3 primary.

"It's a big step toward regaining control of our county," said Ross Liberty, an organizer of a citizen drive to repeal Measure G.

Tuesday's vote capped weeks of public debate on how to rid Mendocino County of its national reputation as a haven for marijuana growers, blamed in large part on Measure G's passage in 2000 and liberal local law enforcement policies that followed.

Measure G doesn't specifically address medical marijuana limits but rather allows up to 25 plants per person for personal use without fear of prosecution. Under current medical pot rules, Mendocino County allows a licensed user to possess two pounds of dried pot. Sonoma County allows three pounds per user, while Lake County follows recommended state guidelines allowing one-half pound.

The Mendocino County board's vote Tuesday signaled that current county marijuana policies are likely to dominate this year's local elections, including races for three seats on the county board.

Board incumbents Jim Wattenburger, Mike Delbar and Kendall Smith were joined by Supervisor John Pinches in deciding to give voters a second crack at Measure G. Supervisor David Colfax voted no, contending backers of the repeal Measure G drive should be required to go through a lengthy and potentially costly signature-gathering process to get the measure on the ballot.

"We're not deciding. We're simply allowing the voter to decide," Wattenburger said.

Tuesday's board vote followed three hours of public debate, including strenuous objections from longtime local advocates of decriminalizing marijuana for personal and medical uses.

"The rights of cannabis patients are at stake," said medical marijuana advocate Beth Bosk.

Nearly 40 people spoke to the board during Tuesday's hearing held in typical Mendocino County fashion.

Speakers ranged from pot advocate "Professor Ping Pong" to rural residents fearful of dope growers operating down the road. A few members of the audience wore T-shirts proclaiming "It's Only a Plant," while others waved placards in support of Measure G.
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53% in Mendocino County want pot law changed

Postby palmspringsbum » Wed Jan 16, 2008 12:27 pm

The Press-Democrat wrote:Article published - Jan 12, 2008

53% in Mendocino County want pot law changed

<span class=postbigbold>Poll finds more people worried about drugs than jobs, growth

A poll of Mendocino County voters shows a majority favors repeal of Measure G, a landmark marijuana initiative that was the first in the nation to decriminalize pot use.

Among the 603 registered county voters polled, 53 percent favored repeal, 35 percent opposed it and 12 percent were unsure.

Poll results also ranked concerns about illicit drugs above job, growth, immigration and environmental issues.

The findings reflect what political and community leaders view as a "sea change" among county residents, who for 30 years seemingly tolerated "mom-and-pop" marijuana cultivation. A backlash has emerged in the face of the county's growing national reputation as a haven for marijuana growers and large-scale commercial growing operations.

"There's been a huge shift," county Supervisor John Pinches said this week.

Pinches and three board colleagues voted Tuesday to put the issue of whether Measure G should be repealed on the June 3 primary ballot, a move advocated by a countywide citizens group. Board members were presented with copies of the pot poll results before their vote.

San Francisco pollster Kevin Brown said Thursday that the poll's margin of error was plus or minus 3.9 percent.

"The poll has a 95 percent confidence rating," Brown said.

Brown works for Dresner, Wickers & Associates, an international political consulting firm whose client list includes Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Dresner firm was hired by Ukiah businessman Ross Liberty and other organizers of a local drive to repeal the county measure. Measure G garnered national attention in 2000 when it was overwhelmingly passed with a 58-percent majority.

Since then, Measure G has been blamed for the county's soaring marijuana production and for contributing to crime. Critics contend Measure G also opened the door for local liberal law enforcement policies surrounding the proliferation of pot cultivation under the guise of medical marijuana.

Medical marijuana advocate Pebbles Trippet said Thursday she fears the rights of legitimate users of marijuana for medical reasons risk being trampled in a rush to crack down on commercial marijuana-growing operations.

"There's a huge difference, and that's getting lost in the debate," Trippet said.

Measure G repeal advocate Liberty said Thursday he believes the poll results indicate a rising tide of public opposition to Measure G and marijuana cultivation in the county.

Liberty said he hopes the June election will provide a margin of victory so significant that "local politicians will know that voters no longer feel marijuana cultivation is benign."

You can reach Staff Writer Mike Geniella at 462-6470 or

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Supes punt on pot dispensary regs

Postby palmspringsbum » Mon Jan 21, 2008 6:20 pm

The Willits News wrote:Supes punt on pot dispensary regs

The Willits News
By Mike A'Dair/TWN Staff Writer
Article Launched: 01/18/2008 11:00:00 PM PST

Supervisors agreed to take no action on two draft ordinances that would have regulated medical marijuana dispensaries in Mendocino County.

The board took no action because a majority of board members concluded the county is not currently having any problems with medical marijuana dispensaries. There are currently three dispensaries in the county: two in the Ukiah area and one in the Fort Bragg area.

The draft ordinances were the product of the board's 2007 Criminal Justice Committee (CJC), chaired by Jim Wattenburger. Michael Delbar was the second committee member.

The CJC could not reach agreement on a single ordinance, so brought two ordinances to the board for consideration. One ordinance (crafted by Wattenburger) would have limited the number of allowable dispensaries in the county to three, and would have limited the number of clients that could have been served by each dispensary at 20 per day. The other ordinance (crafted by Delbar) would have banned all dispensaries in the county.

The Wattenburger ordinance also contained other restrictions. It would have prohibited dispensaries being set up within 1,000 feet of a church, school, park, smoke shop or another dispensary. It also would have required dispensary clients to be legal residents of Mendocino County.

Several people addressed the board on the matter; nearly all of the comments were directed toward the Wattenburger version. Most agreed his version of the ordinance was a good first step, but needed fine-tuning.

Dona Franks, owner and manager of a Sonoma County dispensary, felt setting the limit at 20 clients a day was too restrictive. "Try to run a business with only 20 people coming in a day."

Attorney Lisa Gygax, who has been working with Americans for Safe Access as well as regularly attending CJC meetings, also believes the Wattenburger version is too restrictive. "By setting the limit at three dispensaries, you are creating the kind of impacts that this board is trying to avoid."

Supervisor John Pinches said he couldn't support either version. "To me, these ordinances are an affront to Proposition 215. There's nobody who could weave their way through all of these restrictions a thousand feet here, a thousand feet there. In a little town like Covelo or Legget, if we put this in, you put in these restrictions and pretty soon there's no place in those towns you could put in a dispensary.

"It was the intent of people when they passed 215 was to give people access to medical cannibis. And both of these ordinances don't do that."

Supervisor David Colfax felt adoption of the Wattenburger ordinance would represent a legal liability for the county.

"Local government has no business trying to circumvent federal law, because we know we are going to lose that battle," Colfax said.

"I find it very strange that the county is willing to be complicit in this activity," he added. "I understand the intent. But to me it seems to try to give standing to an activity which the federal government has deemed illegal. I'm uncomfortable that this (a dispensary business license) is being granted on the basis of verifiable information.

"Is the county prepared to provide legal counsel to individuals who come forward with this evidence?"

"We're not requiring them to give us this information," Deputy County Counsel Doug Losak told Colfax. "We are saying, if you want this permit, you have to give us that information."

The swing vote on the question was Supervisor Kendall Smith, who said she did not feel the ordinance was in its final form.

Pinches asked why dispensaries needed to be regulated. He said since there are only three dispensaries in the county, there really isn't any problem with them. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

"The bottom line is, dispensaries are illegal," Delbar replied. "They are not in 215; they are not in 420. The problem we have is there are no controls on selling medical marijuana. It's not like we are talking about tennis shoes and toothpaste here, folks.

"We have no say whatsoever, if someone wanted to come in and open up a dispensary, next to a school, operated by a guy with a criminal background, and he wanted to run it 24/7 selling to minors, there isn't a damn thing we could do about it.

"The responsible, pro-active route for this body to take is to take a pro-active role and take action on this now, before there is a problem," Delbar said.

But his reasoning carried little weight with the board, which decided to take no action on the matter.

Pinches attempted to put a positive spin on the CJC's efforts. "I think we have ended up with a result here," he said. "We have had attorneys that have worked on this, to tell us what could be done, and what could not be done.

"I think a lot of work has been done here and that won't be lost. One of the results is, we're startin' to get some state legislators talkin' about this. And for that, I commend you."

But Wattenburger told the board. "I am greatly disappointed that we were not able to step up to the plate. I am tragically disappointed. So, the situation will continue as present and that is a darn shame."

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Former sheriff stands by pot policies

Postby palmspringsbum » Fri Feb 22, 2008 7:36 pm

The Santa Rosa Press-Democrat wrote:Article published - Feb 18, 2008

Former sheriff stands by pot policies

<span class=postbigbold>Craver blames voters for law that's led to widespread marijuana cultivation</span>


<table class=posttable align=right width=200><tr><td class=postcell><img class=postimg src=bin/craver_tony.jpg></tr></td></table>In the face of a public backlash to soaring marijuana cultivation, former Mendocino County Sheriff Tony Craver is defending enforcement policies during his seven-year tenure.

Craver, who has been retired since December 2006 and is living in Idaho, acknowledged that the county's pot production is "clearly out of hand."

But he said it's local voters and not lax law enforcement that's to blame.

In 2000, Mendocino County voters by 58-32 percent passed Measure G, a landmark ballot proposition that was the first in the United States to decriminalize growing of up to 25 marijuana plants for personal use. The outcome put political pressure on local officials to ease marijuana enforcement, solidifying the county's national reputation as a haven for pot growers.

"Well, the voters spoke and they got what they got," Craver said in a telephone interview.

In the upcoming June primary election, the issue will be back before county voters. They'll decide whether to repeal Measure G and direct law enforcement to follow more restrictive state guidelines that limit marijuana growing to medicinal purposes. The state, like the federal government, prohibits marijuana cultivation for personal use.

Craver said he's always opposed marijuana use. But because he's no longer a county resident, Craver said it would presumptuous to take a public stance on the fate of Measure G.

Nonetheless, Craver's pot policies while sheriff and his role in the first Measure G election are figuring prominently as the debate unfolds.

Craver acknowledged that he signed a petition to place Measure G on the ballot, a move widely touted then by marijuana advocates.

He said he later campaigned "vigorously against it."

Despite law enforcement opposition, Craver said voters chose to buy into "the hype that they heard from advocates of the measure."

"They voted for it because what they heard coming from the opposition sounded like something out of 'Reefer Madness,' " he said, referring to a 1936 film that exaggerated the risks of marijuana.

After Measure G passed, Craver and the late District Attorney Norm Vroman modeled their medical marijuana policies on it as well. They were widely lauded by medical marijuana advocates for their decision to implement the first county medical marijuana identity card program in the state for users and growers.

Craver later became honorary chairman of an activist-organized Mendocino Medical Marijuana Advisory Board. He remains so even though he now lives out of state.

Craver said he will continue to "allow my name to stand on the board and act as a consultant" despite the growing controversy over marijuana cultivation since Measure G's passage.

Pebbles Trippet, chairwoman of the advisory panel, did not return phone calls over a week requesting comment.

Craver said he has no problem furthering the board's stated goals of seeking "middle ground, win-win solutions to a serious and growing problem."

Craver said he's been assured by board members that his name "will not be used to influence the electorate either way on this issue."

Sheriff Tom Allman, Craver's successor, said he doesn't intend to take a position in the current Measure G debate.

"That's for the voters to decide," Allman said.

You can reach Staff Writer Mike Geniella at 462-6470 or
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Arrest follows pot grow financial disagreement

Postby palmspringsbum » Fri Feb 29, 2008 3:41 pm

The Willits News wrote:
Arrest follows pot grow financial disagreement

By Linda Williams/TWN Staff Writer
Article Launched: 02/27/2008 11:52:22 AM PST

An investigation into a claim by one partner in a pot grow about being assaulted by his two associates over their financial arrangements led to the arrest Monday of a Willits man for an alleged pot grow at his home.

John J. Mayock, 39, of Willits, came to the Willits Police Department to complain about an altercation, which occurred at his Sherwood Road home. Since the alleged incident did not occur in Willits, Mendocino County Sheriff's deputies met with Mayock to investigate the incident.

Mayock told deputies he was involved in a commercial marijuana grow with two other persons at his residence on Sherwood Road. The three partners had argued over finances and a fight ensued where he was assaulted by the others, Mayock allegedly told deputies. Mayock then asked deputies to accompany him to his residence so he could remove some property from it, fearing his partners might assault him again.

Deputies accompanied Mayock to his residence and noted a strong odor of marijuana and numerous signs of marijuana cultivation. Mayock was asked whether he had a medical marijuana card and he advised all of his recommendations had expired, say deputies. A search of the residence yielded more than 200 plants, scales and other packaging materials, receipts for marijuana sales and a firearm, say deputies.

Mayock was arrested on suspicion of cultivation and possession of marijuana for sales.

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Home-invasion robbers using bogus police gear

Postby palmspringsbum » Fri Feb 29, 2008 3:46 pm

The Willits News wrote:
Home-invasion robbers using bogus police gear

The Willits News
By Linda Williams/TWN Staff writer
Article Launched: 02/27/2008 11:56:10 AM PST

A February Ukiah raid on a Ruddick-Cunningham Road residence netted police more than the methamphetamines and marijuana they were seeking, officers also found counterfeit law enforcement gear such as a black "POLICE" and "NARCOTICS" bullet proof vest and cap, a badge and similar equipment. This outfit was similar, say police, to one found at another drug raid and investigators theorize it could be linked to several recent home invasion robberies in the Boonville and Ukiah areas. While this is one of the first confirmed cases in Mendocino County, similar crimes are much more common in the Bay Area, say police

"We are very concerned about this development," says Mendocino County sheriff's Lt. Ron Welch, "The next time we go out and serve a search warrant in uniform, the resident might believe they are being robbed and react violently, putting deputies and themselves at risk of injury."

Armed robbery of pot grow residences appears to be a growing problem in the north county as well, according to police sources, even if most are not being reported.

"It is becoming well known in the Bay Area that you can drive up to Mendocino County and drive to the end of any dirt road until you come to a house and those inside will have pot and money," says one officer.

Home invasion robberies involving marijuana are becoming more common, according to Mendocino Major Crimes Task Force Special Agent in Charge Robert Nishiyama, with many finding it easier to steal the marijuana than grow it. Since the growers are involved in an illegal business, they seldom report a robbery to the police, in part due to fear of retaliation from the robbers.

"These home invasion robbers are very violent people," says Nishiyama. "If the growers report them, they know where the growers live, making retaliation a concern."

Regarding the use of fake police gear, "If a dope dealer sees police at the door, he figures he is busted and usually opens the door. If he sees someone he doesn't know he doesn't open the door," says Nishiyama. "This has been an ongoing robbery method in the Bay Area but has been hard to confirm before now in Mendocino County."

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Hamburg pot charges dropped, for now

Postby palmspringsbum » Sat Mar 22, 2008 2:31 pm

The Santa Rosa Press Democrat wrote:
Hamburg pot charges dropped, for now

Saturday, March 15, 2008

UKIAH - A Mendocino County judge has dropped marijuana cultivation charges against Laura Hamburg, a local activist who helped ban genetically modified crops from the county and is currently battling a backlash against marijuana cultivation.

"I feel elated," Hamburg said Friday.

But she said she remains worried because the Mendocino County District Attorney's Office is considering challenging an earlier ruling that led to the dismissal.

"I feel like I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop," Hamburg said.

Judge Ron Brown dismissed the charges against Hamburg Thursday, two weeks after another judge quashed evidence found during a search of the Hamburg family compound near Ukiah.

The property is owned by Hamburg's parents, former Rep. Dan Hamburg and his wife, Carrie.

The search warrant and evidence obtained through it were nullified because officers' sworn statements in support of the search warrant failed to mention that Hamburg had provided officers with documentation that she was growing for several medical marijuana patients, including herself.

It's at least the second pot-related case to be dropped in the past month because judges found fault with a search warrant.

A case against Angela Pinches, daughter of Supervisor John Pinches, was dismissed last month because the judge determined officers had invaded private space around her Redwood Valley home in order to determine whether marijuana was being grown there last year.

Law enforcement officials said they believe a former boyfriend was responsible for the marijuana.

Hamburg said she grows marijuana for medicinal purposes for four people: herself, her sister, her mother and a neighbor.

Hamburg's attorney, former prosecutor Keith Faulder, accused law enforcement of misleading the judge who signed the search warrant.

He and Hamburg also claim officers exaggerated the amount of marijuana found in her garden and home.

Law enforcement officials said they found at least 50 plants, more than 50 pounds of processed marijuana and $10,000 cash after serving the search warrant on Hamburg's home.

"It was nowhere close to that," Hamburg said.

She said Faulder has advised her not to discuss marijuana quantities or other specifics of her case because criminal charges could be refiled.

Deputy District Attorney Brian Newman said he has until March 24 to refile charges.

At the time of last year's raid on Hamburg's home, county medical marijuana guidelines allowed 25 plants to be grown for each medical marijuana patient and for each to possess 2 pounds of processed marijuana.

The allowable number of plants was changed this year to 25 plants per parcel, regardless of the number of patients living on that parcel, in response to growing discontent over widescale pot production in the county.

Hamburg said the raid on her home was terrifying. She said if it could happen to her, "it could happen to anybody," and that's what prompted her to join in the fight against Measure B.

Measure B seeks to rescind Measure G, a local voter-approved measure that decriminalized personal marijuana use in the county and made marijuana cases a low priority for prosecution.

Measure B proponents say Mendocino County's lenient stance on marijuana is attracting crime, creating neighborhood nuisances, causing environmental pollution and supporting the illicit, dangerous underground marijuana industry that has nothing to do with medicine.

Hamburg said she understands the frustration of Measure B proponents, but that overturning Measure G is not the answer.

"Measure G is here to protect the residents," not the large-scale commercial growers, she said.

You can reach Staff Writer Glenda Anderson at 462-6473 or

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4 arrested in Fort Bragg marijuana-garden raids

Postby palmspringsbum » Wed Mar 11, 2009 12:48 am

The Press-Democrat wrote:4 arrested in Fort Bragg marijuana-garden raids


Published: Tuesday, February 24, 2009 at 4:03 a.m.

Mendocino County authorities arrested four people suspected of growing illegal marijuana gardens in the Fort Bragg area when they served search warrants at four homes.

A total of 341 marijuana plants were found at the homes on Friday.

Angelina Dahl, 34, and Brian Dahl, 46, were arrested when Mendocino County Sheriff's deputies found 212 marijuana plants growing inside the family's garage, Lt. Dennis Bushnell said.

Both Dahls told officials the plants were for family medicinal uses, for which they had a permit, Bushnell said.

Deputes seized an additional 25 plants from the home of the Dahl's landlord, 59-year-old Alan Ferguson.

Ferguson had 31 plants growing and had a medical marijuana permit that allowed him to grow six plants. He was not arrested because of frail health, authorities said.

After serving search warrants on the Dahls and Ferguson, authorities searched the home of Angelina Dahl's sister, Melissa Desilva.

Authorities found 26 marijuana plants growing in the home and another 48 freshly cut plants, which had been thrown away in garbage bags.

Desilva also was arrested.

A fifth suspect, 53-year-old Laurel Krause, was arrested at her home when authorities found 24 mature marijuana plants on her property, Bushnell said.

She told authorities proceeds from the sale of the marijuana were going to pay her mortgage.

Krause, Angelina Dahl, Brian Dahl and Desilva were arrested and taken to county jail.

Authorities said they will file charges against Ferguson with the Mendocino County District Attorney's office.

You can reach Staff Writer Laura Norton at 521-5220 or

Where it all comes together...
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Misplaced marijuana backlash

Postby palmspringsbum » Wed Mar 11, 2009 12:53 am

The Times-Standard wrote:Misplaced marijuana backlash

Jeffrey Schwartz/For the Times-Standard
Posted: 02/24/2009 01:27:30 AM PST

Some elected officials in the criminal justice systems in Humboldt and Mendocino counties now act as if voters and legislators gave them a mandate to adopt a harsh penal policy toward marijuana growers. This is a recent and ominous change.

Measure B last June in Mendocino rescinded a previous measure that allowed for the personal possession of and expanded cultivation of medical marijuana. Arcata adopted an ordinance late last year that regulates grow houses. Together, these two measures and other similar ones emboldened the prosecutor in Mendocino County and a judge or two in Humboldt County to take a hard line on marijuana growers. These elected officials should be cautious. While they lead a backlash against the spread of marijuana cultivation, with harsher punishment for growers, they risk a stronger backlash at the polls.

It is disconcerting to hear around the courthouses of Mendocino County deputy district attorneys with marching orders arguing “zero tolerance” on marijuana cases and at least one judge in Humboldt County meting out sentences on first-time marijuana growers until now reserved for cocaine and meth dealers. One deputy district attorney in Mendocino stated, “the people have spoken,” referring to Measure B, when demanding a 365-day sentence for a 19-year old HSU student caught driving a few pounds of marijuana through Willits. This is a kid with a perfectly clean record. The type of felony insisted on by the DA will never come off his rap sheet and will destroy his chance of getting a decent job in the future.

We need to gain perspective. We should remember that the personal possession of marijuana is all but legal in California -- if one is caught with an ounce or less of marijuana the penalty is a $100 fine, it is basically a traffic ticket. Should we treat the people who provide them with an ounce of what is all but legal the same way we treat heroin, cocaine or meth dealers?

Consider the recent case of a Humboldt County judge who grabbed the “mandate” and recently sentenced three marijuana growers to nine months in county jail, three months longer than the most hard-line deputy district attorney in Humboldt County had even requested.

Zero tolerance on marijuana growers may become contagious in our courthouses among the judges. If that happens, the would-be hard-line judges and the Mendocino district attorney will have sorely misconstrued what our collective community intended when they passed or agreed with these ordinances. The residents who voted for Measure B and support regulations on grow houses in Arcata were fed up with the abuses of marijuana growing and the noise and smell and pollution that go with it; in the same way they don't want a roofer setting up a tar boiling operation next door.

Harsher punishment of marijuana growers is a big mistake for an elected official. Marijuana decriminalization in our counties is a hot issue like abortion and gay marriage. There are a whole lot of people supporting both sides of the issue -- and then there are the blogging Rush Limbaugh types. With marijuana, as is the case with pro-choice and the right to marry, the majority in our counties want it decriminalized.

In coastal Northern California we suffer from limited budgets and small police departments but we spend an exorbitant amount of public funds in the form of police and top-of-the-line prosecutors' time and county jail space to put marijuana growers behind bars. In Humboldt, one of the two best prosecutors in the office is spending her time prosecuting marijuana growers instead of child molesters, rapists or murderers.

These officials of the criminal justice system need to wake up or when their elected terms end, they will find themselves back in private practice. The people of Mendocino and Humboldt counties are looking for regulation not criminalization.

Jeffrey Schwartz is an Arcata attorney practicing criminal defense law in Humboldt and Mendocino counties. He resides in Willits and Arcata. He can be reached at
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California Mendocino County Under Medical Marijuana Seige

Postby palmspringsbum » Wed Mar 11, 2009 1:07 am

IndyBay wrote:California Mendocino County Under Medical Marijuana Seige Now

by Laurel Krause
Monday Feb 23rd, 2009 8:58 AM

<span class="postbold">On-going medical marijuana busts through-out Mendocino County have been arresting local residents daily. I was one of five busts made and charged with two felonies (cultivation and intent to sell/distribute) last Friday, February 20, 2009, even though I had my doctor recommendation and was growing with the guidelines published at the Mendocino county web site. </span>

My name is Laurel Krause. Last Friday (2/20/09) as I looked out my kitchen window I was shocked to see 25 Mendocino County Sheriffs/Deputies coming through my gate very quickly. The lead man, Sheriff (don't know deputy, or what class) Jonathan Martin, showed me a search warrant, hand cuffed me and read me my rights. I was cooperative (I actually cried and begged for mercy, but that didn't work) as they searched my home, my grow area on my five acres (behind my locked gate--so no probable cause) and seized all grow equipment related to 24 medical marijuana plants in full bloom. They chopped down the plants and hauled them away as I was being grilled and bullied in my home. This number is significant because if you google the Mendocino County Sheriff's web page on MedMari guidelines it says 25 plants. You are probably aware of the 'fuzziness' of these guidelines. I have a recommendation from my doctor to allow me to grow med marijuana. They charged me with two felony counts, one for marijuana cultivation and another for intent to sell/distribute, carted me to Ukiah, CA to jail in handcuffs.

It gets worse. I was the #4 bust of 5 that day (Friday, Feb 20) and the guys let us know that they had five more for Saturday (yesterday) and five more on Sunday (TODAY!). Not individuals, but actual grows that might arrest multiple people. And most of the growers are women with kids (so now the children are possibly being taken away and bank accounts frozen). Real emotional and economic despair.

As I met others that were arrested in Ukiah, the county seat to jail (never before, first offense for everything for me) I learned they were my neighbors and not one had a 'commercial' size grow. So this Mendocino County Sheriff's dept sweep is coming up short as the take is not producing the kind of busts they claim they are after (i.e commercial, 500 plants & up), unenvironmental grows that scar the land (we all grow organic), we all have our recommendations that we paid for and actually care about the quality of medicine we are growing (it's in the past for me now).

I am in shock, but then I started getting mad yesterday. What is motivating this gestapo situation all of the sudden? DA Meredith Lintott or Sheriff Allman? NeoCons?

I keep to myself mostly so did not hear about this happening all over the county of Mendocino. Furthermore, most growers don't let others know their business so as not to get busted. I'm coming forth as I have nothing to loose and I'm not backing down. I am a little afraid that if this doesn't become a big story that I might be unsafe bust this story wide open. Help us in Mendo!!!

Since getting busted, I've learned that they were up and down my street (just outside Fort Bragg city limit, so in Mendocino County) busting and getting this sweep in order over the last month and logging on the computer even (wish I had known!). That they have also had busting sweeps in the towns of Covelo, Ukiah, Willits.......all within Mendocino county.

I'm sure you're asking what is motivating me to come to you. This is truly an American story of our time right now, a devestating economic massacre for us personally and it has county-wide ramifications as at least 70% of the Mendocino economy is based on growing marijuana. Maybe even California as it's the state's largest crop. During these times of extreme economic hardship and 10% unemployment in Ft. Bragg, it just doesn't make any sense to be busting and criminalizing tax-paying citizens, my neighbors and me operating within state and county guidelines.

We are considering moving forward with a class-action suit. I have calls out.

I am sounding this alarms as far and wide as I can. Please feel free to forward this to any of your interested colleagues. I hope to hear from you.


Laurel Krause
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Reader says he has followed the rules

Postby palmspringsbum » Wed Mar 11, 2009 1:31 am

The Lake County Record-Bee wrote:Reader says he has followed the rules

The Lake County Record-Bee
by James Munson -- Readers' Views
Updated: 03/10/2009 10:11:31 PM PDT

I would like to share some of my experiences during the last 18 months. I recently went to my good friend, Barnett Hoffman's memorial. I asked him over a year ago if he would testify on my and my wife's behalf. He told me that he wanted to, but that he was not well enough. When my wife and I had our second and third cases come up, we asked him again if he could testify. That time he said he would and he testified that I had been supplying him with medical marijuana for quite some time. He was wheeled into court in a wheelchair, wearing a respirator. After my friend got home his condition worsened. He had to be taken by ambulance to the hospital. A few weeks later he died.

My wife and I have been under felony indictment for over a year. At our first case in 2007, we told the district attorney that we would be presenting our patients at the preliminary hearing on a proactive defense. The DA decided to pursue the case. After the judge listened to the testimony of the police and my collective members he dismissed the case because he did not see any evidence of criminal activity.

In March of 2008 the Mendocino County Major Crimes Task Force came to my house one day at 7 a.m., with their guns drawn. They ransacked my house and arrested me. They charged me and my wife with the same charges that had just been dismissed. Apparently, the task force leader did not inform the judge that issued the warrant that we had recently produced nine valid recommendations.

The police refused to let me call my lawyer, refused to call any local doctors to check the validity of the recommendations and refused to acknowledge any of my current recommendations. I told the police repeatedly that the cards belonged to legitimate patients. The police told me that they had never seen a legitimate medical marijuana garden.
My wife and I went to our arraignment on our second case May 2, 2008 at 10 a.m. and the MMCTF kicked in the door to my house at 7 p.m. that same evening. Once again they eradicated my plants, arrested me and placed me in jail with a $50,000 bail.

The DA in my first case said he didn't have a problem with letting my case go. If my case goes to trial some of the members of my collective will have testified for me three times.

The state of California has set rules and guidelines about growing medical marijuana and I feel if you follow the laws and guidelines you should not be in jeopardy.

My lawyer used to be the head of the District Attorney's Office in Mendocino County. He has been fighting for me and my wife in court on credit as he sees that I have been following all the laws and guidelines around medical marijuana.

On June 18, 2009, at 1:30 p.m. in courtroom B of the Mendocino County Courthouse we will file a motion to dismiss because the MMCTF did not give the judge that issued the warrant all the pertinent information required to be presented before he could make a decision about whether or not to grant the warrant.

If my case goes to jury trial we will be presenting 16 of my collective members, hopefully! The trial is set for June 22 at 10 a.m. in courtroom B.

James Munson


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Sheriff lays out the law on marijuana

Postby palmspringsbum » Sun Apr 05, 2009 12:58 pm

The Ukiah Daily Journal wrote:Sheriff lays out the law on marijuana

By ZACK CINEK | The Daily Journal
Updated: 04/04/2009 10:53:52 AM PDT

(Corrected version to add 6-plant limit as part of Sheriff's announced guidelines.) Sheriff Tom Allman explained the Sheriff's Office's approach to marijuana-related business at a courthouse meeting of mostly attorneys Friday at noon.

Allman also discussed the proposed zip-tie tag program, which, if approved by the Board of Supervisors, would charge $25 per medical marijuana plant and also a possible eradication fee of more than $25 per marijuana plant.

"The purpose of today's meeting is very simple," Allman said. "I am trying to take confusion out of the miscellaneous marijuana laws that we have throughout the county and state.

"I am trying to provide consistency so when your clients contact you for advice or after they are arrested and you are representing them, there can be a clear understanding of what the Sheriff's Office's policy is and what our eradication policy is," Allman said.

In addition to the Sheriff's Office's directive, a copy of State Attorney General Edmund Brown's guidelines was also handed out and is published online as well.

Some priorities for what the Sheriff's Office takes into consideration on marijuana were also explained by Allman. One of the priorities will be grows that are harming the environment.

County ordinances were also included in the Sheriff's Office's directive. The ordinance includes no more than 25 medical marijuana plants on one parcel. Voter approved Measure B which limits medical marijuana growing to six mature or 12 immature plants per patient is also part of the Sheriff's guidelines and the 25-plant limit does not change with the number of qualified patients. No amount of marijuana can be grown within 1,000 feet of a school, bus stop, park or church. All medical marijuana grown outdoors must have a six-foot-high fence with a locking gate. The California Supreme Court has yet to rule on the so-called Kelly case, in which a lower court ruled the state's medical marijuana regulations limiting the number of plants per patients conflicted with Prop. 215, the medical marijuana law.

The outcome of the Kelly case will have a significant affect on the guidelines discussed Friday.

"If the Kelly case is affirmed, everything you are reading you might as well put in the recycling bin," Allman said. "But if the Kelly case is overturned I assume everything you are reading is going to remain consistent as the law."

Objectives for sheriff's deputies to follow were also presented by the sheriff.

"We will be offering compliance checks to any body who calls the Sheriff's Office and says, Listen, I think I am in compliance and I don't know if I am in compliance, will you come out and look at our garden,'" Allman said. "We are going to go after the commercial gardens. We are going to go after the gardens that are causing environmental damage." Citizen calls reporting marijuana as a nuisance is also on the list of objectives.

Gardens diverting water illegally will also be a priority. Marijuana grown on public lands will be eradicated and marijuana grown by means of trespassing will be eradicated, Allman said.

Zack Cinek can be reached at or 468-3521.

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Allman announces marijuana guidelines

Postby palmspringsbum » Sat Apr 11, 2009 2:59 pm

The Willits News wrote:Allman announces marijuana guidelines

The Willits News
By Linda Williams/TWN Staff Writer
Posted: 04/08/2009 10:55:06 AM PDT

With the traditional April 20 start of the outdoor marijuana growing season approaching, Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman has issued a series of guidelines for his officers and for potential growers based on guidance from the California Attorney General.

Allman met Friday with a group of defense attorneys as part of his efforts to bring clarity to this season's marijuana growing rules.

Attorney General Edmond G. Brown Jr. issued an 11-page guideline in August intended to clarify the medical marijuana laws for both law enforcement and patients and caregivers. A copy of thie guideline is available from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Department website:

In addition to the Attorney General's guideline, a November 2008 ruling by the California Supreme Court in People vs. Mentch, established "a defendant whose caregiving consisted principally of supplying marijuana and instructing on its use, and who otherwise only sporadically took some patients to medical appointments, cannot qualify as a primary caregiver under the Act."

Before the ruling, many large commercial growers believed they had a legitimate right to grow marijuana if they had copies of caregiver cards from patients in other parts of California to show law enforcement.

Still pending before the California Supreme Court is the case of People vs. Kelly, which questions whether the state Legislature had the ability to modify or clarify the wording of a proposition when it put marijuana possession limits in the Health and Safety Code.

Each medical marijuana patient may possess eight ounces of processed marijuana and may maintain up to six mature marijuana plants or 12 immature plants, under the Attorney General's guidelines. A qualified patient may possess more marijuana if needed for his/her medical treatment, based on a doctor's recommendation.

In addition to the AG's guidelines, Mendocino County has established a maximum of 25 plants on any taxable parcel and prohibits all marijuana cultivation within 1,000 feet of any school, church or youth facility.

Allman has established the following county marijuana enforcement objectives for 2009:
  1. Commercial marijuana operations.
  2. Marijuana operations that cause environmental damage.
  3. Trespass cultivation.
  4. Marijuana operations that illegally divert water.
  5. Calls for service from citizens reporting marijuana nuisances.
  6. Providing compliance assistance and checks for medical marijuana patients and caregivers.
Willits has a separate marijuana ordinance, limiting cultivation to inside a secure building and allowing no more than six plants on any parcel. Ukiah and Fort Bragg each have growing ordinances as well.

Allman also hopes to reintroduce a zip tie program, if authorized by the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors. This would allow medical marijuana patients and caregivers to register their plants for a fee.

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Proposed change to county code on medical marijuana

Postby palmspringsbum » Mon Oct 26, 2009 1:47 pm

The Ukiah Daily Journal wrote:Proposed change to county code on medical marijuana before public

By ZACK CINEK | The Ukiah Daily Journal
Updated: 10/21/2009 12:00:17 AM PDT

The Mendocino County Health and Human Services Committee met Monday afternoon to debut a proposal for a code section on medical marijuana collectives and other changes to the original law.

Section 9.31, nuisance code for marijuana, has been under review for months by the Health and Human Services Committee.

"Then 9.31 would focus only on medical marijuana cultivation," Supervisor John McCowen said. "County counsel, appropriately, I believe, has decided to separate the two," McCowen said.

Mark Cohen of Northstone Organics Cooperative noted the Obama administration's respect for state laws. The ordinance before the committee is a landmark ordinance because it is the first, Cohen said.

Cohen said he would like to see a way that high quality professional green houses be defined.

"The definition of indoor' and outdoor' and how greenhouse' is going to be caught in the web of that definition," Cohen said . "We would like to see a kilowatt restriction on this ordinance."

Tom Davenport of Redwood Valley said that the Medical Marijuana Advisory Board supports a proposal that 3rd District Supervisor John Pinches suggested at an Advisory Board meeting.

"We want police out of the permit and regulation process of medical marijuana," Davenport said.

Pebbles Trippet cited record high arrests and prosecution of marijuana cases in 2008. "The presence of law enforcement has us concerned because law enforcement in 2008 earned our mistrust."

McCowen, 4th District Supervisor Kendall Smith and county counsel Jeanine Nadel said they would support an alternative to the Sheriff's Office if one could be identified. Building and planning does not want to enforce the ordinance, Nadel said.

The ordinance would be for unincorporated areas, not Ukiah, for example, Davenport stated. He said those living in Ukiah and concerned by the ordinance are "busy bodies" who would not be affected by it.

Citizen Bev Bos said that definitions of legal parcels may be different on Indian rancherias where it is all one parcel.

Bos suggested finding another paradigm to regulate medical marijuana and to have a process that would take information from a community group.

Larry Puterbaugh said that he was concerned about protections for neighbors. "Someone came to my neighbor and shot him right outside my bedroom window," Puterbaugh said.

Medical marijuana advocate Trippet said she did not like Proposition 215 rights to be diminished.

"I believe we have a moral obligation to resist the legislating away of our constitutional rights," Trippet said.

Trippet said that people are often sloppy in things that they do. "That does not make us a criminal or even a nuisance," Trippet said. "You never explained how a broken lock affects a lot of people," said Trippet.

"We would love to get involved in regulations we can get behind and not victimize ourselves again," she said.

"Why is pot illegal other than that it is," citizen Bruce Martin said. "If it is medical, its intent is legal and it should be treated that way.

"I would like to be on the forefront of survival and how we can make this a workable thing for all," Martin said. "There is just so much money to be made that criminals will constantly be coming at you."

Fort Bragg resident Dennis Hollingsworth said that federal police busted a grow on land he was purchasing.

"There is a difference between medical and illegal grows," Hollingsworth said. He said that the garden was legal.

"The feds came in, banged it down, took the stuff and it was as legal as can be," Hollingsworth said.

Eric Sunsweep raised the question of small collectives. Sunsweep said that a collective with 25 or fewer marijuana plants is caught up in this regulation (medical marijuana collectives shall comply with all of the following).

Nadel said that using nuisance ordinance code for medical marijuana does not mean that medical marijuana is a nuisance.

"The way to regulate is through nuisance law," Nadel said. Nuisance violations would follow an abatement process and would not be criminally prosecuted.

<span class="postbold">Medical marijuana collectives</span>

Medical marijuana growing collectives can achieve an exemption from limitations if they successfully apply for a permit from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office, a draft of the ordinance stated.

Plants will not be allowed to exceed 99 on a parcel, and a separate permit application would be needed for each parcel where more than 25 plants would be grown.

Specifications in the application take into concern the security of the plants and use of electricity, be it from a diesel generator or demand on the electrical service, the draft stated.

No illegal diversion of water, and other requirements of the code section are included in a lengthy list of what it would take to apply for a medical marijuana collective.

<span class="postbold">Medical marijuana location</span>

Previous versions of the code did not allow marijuana to be grown within 1,000 feet of a school, within 1,000 feet of a school bus stop and within 1,000 feet of churches.

Now medical marijuana cannot be grown within the following, according to county code revisions :

1,000 feet of a youth facility, school, park or church.

100 feet of a structure on a separate parcel.

Outdoors in a mobile home park within 100 feet of an occupied motor home.

Any location that can be seen from the public right of way.

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Community perception: MJ a menace or a boon?

Postby palmspringsbum » Mon Oct 26, 2009 1:57 pm

The Ukiah Daily Journal wrote:Community perception: MJ a menace or a boon?

By TIFFANY REVELLE | The Daily Journal
Updated: 10/22/2009 12:01:12 AM PDT

While most agree marijuana is part of life in Mendocino County, the community is divided about whether marijuana should be legalized, and whether it's a problem or a boon for the county.

"This is a living, breathing situation," Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman said. "Nobody has the answers today, because the answer today is not going to be the answer tomorrow. We all have to be ready to adjust to the situation going forward, because change could happen at any time."

Allman was speaking in a general way, but alluding to the pending People vs. Kelly decision. If the lawsuit prevails, it would render Senate Bill 420 unconstitutional and void on the basis that it unlawfully amended Proposition 215, also called the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, without a vote of the people.

For now, law enforcement and attorneys use SB 420 as a guideline: a medical marijuana patient is allowed to have six mature or 12 immature plants and eight ounces of processed marijuana. Proposition 215 didn't specify the amounts a patient could have, but said it's legal for someone to use marijuana at a doctor's recommendation.

"It's a tragedy that we've let it get as far as it has," said John Mayfield, a businessman and co-founder of the Mendocino Employer's Council. He spoke as an individual, not for the council.

"Employing people and watching what happens to them: they can't function when they're impaired, they can't operate heavy equipment, they can't pass a drug test most of the time. They are impaired as a good employee," Mayfield said.

He called pot a "gateway drug" to harder drugs like methamphetamine and cocaine.

Legalization, he said, would only exacerbate the situation.

Hillel Posner, a Ukiah High School woodshop teacher, has a divided view of the subject.

"I want to support non-legalization so that we can keep profiting from it, but none of that mitigates the fact that kids shouldn't be using drugs," Posner said.

He says there's been a slight shift in recent years, with fewer teens getting high.

The ones who do use marijuana, he noted, "can make a pipe, but they can't pass my class."

"I don't see it," Ukiah resident Gabriela Jimenez said of marijuana as it affects her daily life. But she offered a personal story to illustrate why she's against legalizing marijuana.

"One of my best friends has a lot of talent for music and dumped everything because they got into marijuana," she said. "Drugs, no matter what it is, even if it's a cigarette, it's bad."

She believes some people who claim to use marijuana as a medicine are "taking advantage."

Ukiah resident Marie Langley said "I think it should be legal, because then we wouldn't have to have the police out there, and we wouldn't have the Mexican cartel."

Most people interviewed at random by The Journal were happy to share their views, but didn't want to be identified. Most who answered compared marijuana's effects to those of tobacco or alcohol; some compared the 1937 prohibition of the plant to alcohol prohibition.

"It's safer to use than alcohol," said a local therapist who didn't want to be identified. "But it can be overused, like any substance ... I've seen so much more damage done by alcohol, and that's legal."

She added that the plant is culturally viewed in a skewed, negative light, and that it should be legalized.

"Nobody gets stoned and then goes out and kicks somebody's ass," said a Lake County marijuana patient who works in Mendocino County, and who also didn't want to be identified. "If you're altered while you're driving, though, that's a DUI just like with alcohol."

She added, "It should be legalized and taxed. You can't tell me regular incomes are what's keeping Lake and Mendocino counties together right now."

One man, a former Mendocino County resident, said he provides full-time care for his wife, including growing her medical marijuana. He said his neighbors are understanding, and he sticks to the legal amount and doesn't share or sell it.

"I think it should be decriminalized," he said, adding that marijuana shouldn't be available to minors.

A local banker said she thinks marijuana is a problem for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the effect on her work.

"A man in his late 20s or early 30s came in with his friend ... and they were definitely stoned. He couldn't even conduct his transaction; all he could do was giggle," she said, adding that she could smell marijuana on some of her customers' money and on their breath.

Part of the broader problem, she said, is that the plants also use large amounts of water and "we're already in a water shortage."

She questioned whether taxing marijuana would solve the problem.

"I think it should be legalized," a San Rafael resident who works in Mendocino County said. "It's no more harmful than any other drug, like alcohol."

"Any time you have an illegal substance in the community, that itself creates crime, shooting and raids," an anonymous business owner said.

"At least it's a natural thing, and it doesn't have harsh chemicals," a county resident said. "It should be legalized, because a lot of people are doing it, regardless. Tobacco has chemicals; marijuana does not."

Bob Nishiyama, commander of the Mendocino Major Crimes Task Force, thinks legalizing marijuana would cause a 20- or 30-year surge in its use, similar to the end of alcohol prohibition.

Tiffany Revelle can be reached at, or at 468-3523.

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From the bench: Marijuana law constantly shifting

Postby palmspringsbum » Mon Oct 26, 2009 2:08 pm

The Ukiah Daily Journal wrote:From the bench: Marijuana law constantly shifting

By K.C. MEADOWS | The Ukiah Daily Journal
Updated: 10/23/2009 12:00:14 AM PDT

<span class="postbold">Cases clogging local courts</span>

Marijuana cases are not the only criminal cases coming into the Mendocino County Superior Court, but they seem to be taking up the most time and resources, say local judges.

Marijuana cases are about a quarter of the criminal caseload Judge Richard Henderson sees in Mendocino County Superior Court.

And he believes that the local district attorneys and defense attorneys do a good job of handling them.

Henderson - who has been working the criminal bench here for about two years after a stint in the Willits court and a year in arraignment court - splits the criminal case calendar with Judge Ron Brown, a former public defender.

Henderson says that while marijuana cases aren't the majority of cases, they tend to use up a lot of court time and resources.

There are a couple of reasons for that. First, they increasingly have multiple defendants. Three or four or five people may have been arrested in a cultivation case. They all need attorneys. If they are being appointed attorneys then those attorneys need to avoid conflicts and they also need to be able to coordinate court dates.

Judge David Nelson, a former defense attorney who handled many marijuana cases starting back in the 1970s, is the court's master calendar judge and he sees all the criminal cases that come through as he handles arraignments and assigns cases to the trial judges.

According to Nelson, there were 314 felony marijuana cases filed in the county court in 2008 with 531 defendants. That compares with 74 cases filed in 2003 involving 97 defendants.

With those numbers, courts are hard pressed to keep cases moving.

"It's taking up an awfully large part of our criminal caseload," Nelson said.

Then too, marijuana cultivation cases generally involve search warrants which are often in contention when the case gets to trial.

Some 25 percent or 30 percent of search warrants are challenged in the cases Henderson sees.

Henderson says the reason is that in most cases where arrests have been made for cultivating or possessing marijuana well in excess of the limits, the marijuana is there as proof and that's hard to argue with.

Instead, attorneys try to get the case dismissed by challenging the search warrants. And they do succeed, although Henderson, Nelson and Brown all say most warrants are upheld.

Several high profile local cases have involved search warrant problems.

Henderson explained that search warrants come to a judge - whichever local judge is on warrant duty - from law enforcement as generally routine daytime matters. Each case is different and depends on the circumstances by which law enforcement was alerted to the possible crime. All search warrants also go through the District Attorney's Office and that office works with the officers on the case to write their requests to the judge convincingly - a practice, Brown notes, which was initiated by late District Attorney Norm Vroman.

In a recent case, a search warrant was thrown out because an officer did not tell the judge the suspect had claimed a medical marijuana defense during the time of search.

Henderson said that while a judge might want to ask that question of the officer the next time a warrant is presented to him, he's not allowed to. The judge can only say yes or no. He cannot ask questions or suggest additional information. If the judge later finds out some relevant information was omitted, that could well lead him to declare the warrant invalid.

Nelson adds that judges do look for all the requirements of probable cause when they sign a warrant. Warrants have to have more than simply a complaint to the police from a neighbor or other person, Nelson explained. They have to have corroborating cause - a visual confirmation by officers, often by air, or the smell of marijuana coming from the property.

After the court proceedings, many marijuana offenders end up with no record at all, benefiting from Penal Code 1000, a section which allows a first-time marijuana offender to plead guilty, go to drug counseling and maintain a 36-month probation period, after which, if no further crimes are committed, a not guilty plea is entered and the case is dismissed. Henderson pointed out that if a defendant qualifies for PC 1000, it must by law be offered as a resolution to the case.

(That differs from the Prop. 36 drug crimes law, which diverts drug offenders from jail to treatment. That program also requires a guilty plea, but that plea stays on the record after the probation period.)

Henderson said that in his view, marijuana attorneys on both sides in Mendocino County know their stuff.

The problem for everyone is the shifting rules and laws.

Henderson says, for instance, that after the California Supreme Court ruling in late 2008 which clarified that a medical marijuana caretaker under Prop. 215 could not simply be someone growing your pot, the caretaker defense' disappeared from defense arguments almost immediately.

Now he's seeing more cases claiming that the growers are cooperatives or collectives, an as-yet undefined medical marijuana law provision.

"It's evolving," Henderson said of medical marijuana case law, and "hugely time-consuming. It's been hard to keep track ... what's the intent of Prop. 215?"

Brown adds that the state Attorney General has written useful guidelines about collectives but they are not law.

Nelson agrees that where the courts have made concrete decisions, marijuana defenses have shifted to other parts of Prop. 215. The hard job for local judges is trying to make sense of it all.

"You try to keep up with case law," he said, adding that each judge has to find his own way in the fuzzy areas.

The California Supreme Court has scheduled oral arguments on People v. Kelly for Nov. 3. That case has been widely anticipated because it is expected to resolve whether or not the state can enact regulations over Prop. 215, the medical marijuana law. For instance, the six mature plant or 12 immature plant limits in state law could be either upheld or overturned with this case.

Brown noted that not only do attorneys battle over the number of plants allowed in a given case, but also the amount of marijuana a doctor has prescribed and even the weight of the marijuana, which can change from its initially wet stage when law enforcement seized it, to when it's dried and the medicinal parts separated out.

"It's complicated," Brown said.

If the high court decides to uphold the state's limits, Brown said, "it's still dependent on your medical needs. A doctor can say you need more. It doesn't resolve the issue."

On the other hand, if the high court decides to throw out the state's limits on marijuana, it will certainly broaden the parameters for growers, Brown said, but Prop. 215 still requires a patient to have a recommendation from a doctor with a specific amount needed, and those doctors can be required to come to court and testify to that.

Henderson added that as time goes on, both defense attorneys and prosecutors are getting more savvy and refining their positions.

"As the courts refine the laws, people's conduct changes accordingly," he said.

"Defense attorneys here are very experienced and knowledgeable - in a good sense," Henderson said, adding that it meant they and prosecutors can more quickly focus on areas of dispute.

This time of year when the marijuana harvest is in full swing, the courts see marijuana cases go up, but Henderson said he's seeing an increase also in indoor grow cases.

"We're also starting to see more people involved from outside the area," he said.

Brown said he is especially troubled with the numbers of people moving to this county and buying or renting homes and setting up big growing operations - that and the home invasion violence that sometimes accompanies those grows.

Many indoor grows have been criticized by county environmental health workers for the damage they do to local ground water and streams, but Henderson said he's only seen one prosecution of an environmental case from a marijuana grow.

While none of the judges takes a position on whether legalizing marijuana would be a good or bad thing, Henderson will say that from a judge's standpoint there would be great good in clarifying what's legal.

He would like to have definite rulings on specific limits of growing and its methods, and selling and its methods.

Simply trying to judge what's "reasonable," he said (as the wording in the medical marijuana law now stands) is almost impossible.

Nelson agrees that in a perfect world the courts would have clear rules on how much marijuana someone can grow and possess. He notes that if the Kelly case is upheld and the limits are discarded, that will create a significant void for judges.

"If they throw out the numbers (we have now under SB 420) that will make it really hard," Nelson said.

As a kind of traffic cop to the criminal court, Nelson says he doesn't see many cases involving what has come to be known in this county as Mom and Pop growers, and those cases do tend to be contested by defense attorneys.

But, he notes, there has been an obvious backlash on marijuana growing in general, and cites things like Measure B, which passed in this county in 2008 and eliminated a former county ordinance allowing anyone to grow pot for personal use.

"People got tired of having it in their face," Nelson said.

As a defense attorney handling marijuana cases 30 years ago, Nelson said things have, needless to say, changed. Back then, someone with 15 plants could be charged with serious felonies.

But in some ways, things haven't changed.

"It's always been difficult enforcing these things," he said.

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Mendocino County: Our reputation out there

Postby palmspringsbum » Mon Oct 26, 2009 2:31 pm

The Ukiah Daily Journal wrote:Mendocino County: Our reputation out there

By K.C. MEADOWS | The Daily Journal
Updated: 10/23/2009 12:00:15 AM PDT

Mendocino County has a wide reputation as part of the Emerald Triangle, the U.S. marijuana growing center of Humboldt, Trinity and Mendocino counties.

Its legendary status is reflected all over the Internet, where pot smokers and marijuana growers trade information and assumptions about our county's marijuana tolerance and availability.

At, for instance, Mendocino County's "Smoking Tolerance Level" is set at 4.5 with 5 being "virtually legal." The site goes on to explain the amounts of marijuana one can go around with in California without getting arrested but then the author adds: "Last time I was there, one of the locals told me this is not the hippie town I used to know. Lots of unmarked police cars (White and dark gray). People were paranoid, hard to find bud. Is this homeland security?"

Nonetheless, the site provides information on good places to buy marijuana here and the prices: up to $300 per ounce.

At, a woman named Laurel Krause logs in with a story about her arrest in Fort Bragg in February despite her medical marijuana card and that she is following county guidelines. She adds, however, that she was making money growing and objects to the "devastating economic massacre" for her personally.

In response, commenters asserted all kinds of things:

"So sad that Mendo has turned into a playground for the wicked, selfish and greedy people ... anyway I took a plea on Jan. 27, 2009, they dropped for sale (and) possession of an assault weapon ... and left me with cultivation. (Got sentenced to a) light drug program for two months then 36 months probation, very light, I am actually in Phoenix right now, as my life became disheveled after all this."

"I could be wrong but I thought I read an article a month or two after Measure B passed that it was taken to the state Supreme Court which deemed the ruling illegal."

"You must have missed the new guidelines, it is now six plants per household that is considered legal. Previous to this new guideline it was 20 plants."

"Actually 25 plants is legal in Mendo. Each county sets its own regulations, so how much you can grow depends on the county you are in. In Mendo they did amend the grow regulations about a year or more ago, from 25 plants per patient to 25 plants per grow operation."

"A lot of information being stated and some of it totally wrong. From both sides."

On, the Internet video site, are numerous videos of marijuana growing, some of it in Mendocino County where huge Christmas tree sized plants are shown off with statements such as:

"I think most of the SF/Oakland weed comes from Mendocino County; 60 percent of it's population, or something, makes their income from something related to marijuana."

On the High Times magazine Web site a reader writes:

"I have been a supporter for almost two decades now (since before I could drive) and do support your efforts. My problem is this; the local media in Mendocino County has picked up on the story of the thiefs from Sacramento who came to Mendocino County because of hightimes.' As you likely know, the same conservative media in Mendocino County last June led to the repeal of Measure G (first personal use initiative passed in the country). Now raids have increased. This year, theft and violence is up in the county (at least the amount reported). So, all I ask is this; if you will write (in an international magazine) about how easy it is to find marijuana in Mendocino County, please also make your presence known in the local media in a positive light as well. ...there is a strong anti-marijuana sentiment in Mendocino County these days; one which never used to exist."

On another site a young entrepreneur named Jordan Zazzara is selling domain names he thinks will be lucrative. Among them is Asked what he wants for them, he replied by email:

"I'd be happy with $1,500 for most of the domains. The really great ones like and I'd want more for, but this kind of thing is an investment. Domains appreciate in value as .com names become more scarce. Great keywords like these pop up well in Google search, which can earn you a lot of extra business. Who knows, if it ever gets legalized these could be multi-million dollar domain names."

K.C. Meadows can be reached at, or at 468-3526.

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Prosecutors and defenders weigh in

Postby palmspringsbum » Mon Oct 26, 2009 2:36 pm

The Ukiah Daily Journal wrote:Prosecutors and defenders weigh in

By TIFFANY REVELLE | The Ukiah Daily Journal
Updated: 10/24/2009 12:48:09 AM PDT

Defenders and prosecutors agree: droves of people end up in the court system on marijuana-related charges, and the legal landscape keeps changing.

Bob Nishiyama, commander of the Mendocino Major Crimes Task Force, said he's seen a surge in marijuana growing, illegal and otherwise, since voters passed Proposition 215 in 1996, also known as the Compassionate Use Act.

Mendocino County District Attorney Meredith Lintott said her marijuana case volume has risen 53 percent during the last two years. She has deputies whose full-time jobs are to prosecute marijuana cases.

"If it's medical marijuana, we're not charging it. And for the most part, if it's a pure medical marijuana case, we're not going to see the reports from the Sheriff's Office or any of the other agencies," Lintott said.

Typical marijuana-related charges include cultivation, drying, processing and harvesting; possession for sale; sale, offer to sell, attempt to sell or transport; and maintaining a place for the production or storage of marijuana.

Lintott said DA's Office prosecutors see cases where there is no claim of medical use, or where there is a claim but no documentation to back it up.

"Or they're growing an excessive amount," Deputy District Attorney Katherine Houston said, "or there is evidence of sales, firearms, child endangerment, environmental or Fish and Game violations that are not in the gambit of medical marijuana defense."

Omar Figueroa, a private San Francisco defense attorney for more than 10 years, said most of his marijuana-related cases never make it to court. Marijuana cases represent about 80 percent of his case load, half of which is medical marijuana.

Medical marijuana cases are often dismissed before they can get to trial, Figueroa said. Often, he said, law enforcement officers overlook doctors' recommendations at the scene, he said.

"So many times they just overlook it," Figueroa said.

He said he doesn't see many cases where medical marijuana patients were within legal state guidelines: six mature plants or 12 immature plants and eight ounces of processed marijuana.

But he doesn't blame police for often leaving the question of whether a person was within legal parameters to the court system, because there are three kinds of medical marijuana guidelines to sort: state plant limits, city or county limits and the amount a person's doctor recommends.

Recommendations to use marijuana can be written or verbal, according to Figueroa, which can cause a gray area when officers are at the scene of a grow.

Deferred sentencing is an option commonly used for those who are not within guidelines, according to the defense and the prosecution. The defendant pleads guilty on the charges, and a sentence is entered but not carried out as long as the defendant doesn't break the law again in a specified period of time, usually a year.

<span class="postbold">Where the holes are</span>

The biggest holes in the prosecution's arguments in marijuana cases have to do with how much each plant is expected to produce, according to Figueroa. The standard used in court has been that each plant is expected to produce a pound to two pounds of processed marijuana, he said, adding that experts disagree.

Chris Conrad of Safe Access Now is a court-qualified marijuana expert and teaches at Oaksterdam University, which boasts " the highest quality training for the cannabis industry."

Conrad says he's investigated and testified in 1,314 marijuana cases that ended up in court systems throughout the country since he started testifying as an expert in 1997, a year after voters passed the Compassionate Use Act, also known as Proposition 215. Of those, nine were in Mendocino County.

"Typically, police exaggerate the size of the gardens by four to 10 times as big as they actually are," he said.

The estimates officers give in court regarding how much fresh marijuana a garden was expected to produce are based on the weight of the plants when they are cut down and still full of water, Conrad said.

In court, Conrad refers to a 1992 federal Drug Enforcement Agency study that he says found the finished product is about 7 percent of the plant's total weight. Marijuana loses about 75 percent of its weight when it dries, he said.

The pound-per-plant standard, he claims, is arbitrary.

Opinions vary on how much medical-grade bud a marijuana plant can be expected to produce.

The Drug Policy Alliance Network,, concluded that a 1992 DEA study called "Cannabis Yields" said the average yield for a female plant in 1991 was about a pound. Including leaf and bud, according to the alliance's summary, the usable, dry weight yield of one plant could be up to 5.1 pounds.

<span class="postbold">Sales a sticking point</span>

Prosecutors hold that selling and buying marijuana is still a felony under state law.

"If somebody is growing and using the medical marijuana as a front, or as a guise to actually be having a profit-oriented enterprise, it's going to be fairly large amounts. So it's not going to be somebody that's allowed to have six and they have seven," Lintott said.

Even the larger grows aren't always subject to prosecution, depending on whether the defendant or defendants can prove they were collectively or co-operatively growing on one property with other patients.

Figueroa and other defense attorneys argue that growers have the right to be reasonably compensated for their time.

"Sales are illegal, except when it's from a caregiver to a patient, or from a member of a collective or a co-op to another member," he said.

Figueroa says it could theoretically be argued that such compensation could even be tied to the market value of a marijuana plant. Horticulturalists, he says, is paid based on the value of the plants they raise.

"Many people think it's lawful to sell to dispensaries, and it's not," Houston said.

For compensation, Houston said prosecutors look at what the grow costs, including fertilizer, electricity, water, seeds, clones, equipment and labor.

"It's a completely under-the-table enterprise," Houston said, "and it's not a legitimate enterprise that a valid producer of marijuana, who was producing it for medical patients, would have. They would know exactly what their overhead was per pound. That's how you do business," Houston said.

Deputy District Attorney Rayburn Killion estimated a pound of marijuana costs $400 to produce, but sellers get between $2,500 and $4,500 per pound in the Bay Area and points south, as well as in other states and countries.

Pay-and-owe records, scales and baggies police find at the scene are not all prosecutors look at for proof of sales, according to Lintott.

"At this point we're going to be looking for the stream of income, to see that they are actually making income," she said. "They might own different properties, they might have luxury vehicles, luxury toys. It wouldn't necessarily be just the generators, or the high PG&E bills. Those are things you're going to see; those are things you're going to look for, but you're going to have to find that they are actually selling for a profit on the black market, so to speak."

<span class="postbold">Buyers coming here from all over</span>

The prosecutors are also kept busy with buyers from all over the nation.

"We have a lot of Chicago people that come out to buy," Houston said. "We are the marijuana capitol of the world. They all come here to buy."

Mailing marijuana is risky because packages are inspected randomly, according to Lintott, but "the greed and the profit they do make outweighs their fear of being caught."

She added, "The criminal mind that works to break the law is not limited to marijuana profiteers. It's the same kind of risk-cost analysis that any other criminal does before they commit a crime to gain monetary advantage."

Houston said people who buy marijuana from Mendocino County don't claim to use it for medicine.

"They're members of syndicates, of crime organizations, of gangs. And they're simply in it to make money," she said.

<span class="postbold">Pot is its own currency</span>

Nishiyama said Mendocino County's marijuana market is so flooded that the lack of demand for it here has turned Mendocino-grown pot into the currency of the illegal drug trade.

"People with access to marijuana here are trading it for crank, cocaine and heroin in other areas," he said.

Then, there's the violent crime associated with marijuana growing.

"The home invasion robberies have only been happening, I'd say in the last five to 10 years, where it's gotten just huge, where we never saw that before," Houston said.

"It's exploded since '07," Lintott said.

Houston and Killion cited instances of people coming up from the Bay Area and points south on the pretense of buying marijuana, then taking it instead at gunpoint.

"That is becoming more, almost the norm, than the exception," Houston said.

She said for a long time, growers didn't report even violent thefts of their marijuana because they were afraid of prosecution. Now, the influx of people coming here intending to steal marijuana has become the office's higher priority.

"They come with criminal records, they come with stolen firearms, they come with an attitude that they're going to get their marijuana regardless; they're going to steal it and people are going to be hurt if they resist. That, we have decided, is a worse harm than somebody simply growing it and having it in their house," Houston said, adding that illegal growers would still face prosecution.

<span class="postbold">New standards emerge</span>

"This is an alcohol prohibition redo," said Keith Faulder, a private defense attorney who used to be a Mendocino County prosecutor. "Any violence associated with it is based on the artificial value of marijuana, created by the prohibition against marijuana. If there's no crime, there's no value."

Figueroa says he sees prosecutors claiming that a large amount of marijuana indicates illegal use, but he argues that even large amounts can still be for a legal, medical use. He argues that making marijuana oil or honey to eat with food or inhaling the vapors instead of smoking it requires greater quantities.

"Ultimately, I think what the courts are going to rule is that whatever amount is reasonably related to a patient's medical needs, one is allowed to have. And that is a case-by-case basis; it depends on the patient's medical condition, as well as their mode of ingestion," Figueroa said.

Lately, he said, the pound-per-plant argument in court has given way to a newer standard, with law enforcement experts estimating a marijuana plant growing indoors will generate a pound of bud per 1,000-watt light.

"When they think somebody had the appropriate number of plants but they (the plants) yielded too much, what they (prosecution) say is that they're (the grower) over the half-pound limit once they start drying the marijuana," Figueroa said.

He continued, "What we argue in that case is ... Kelly - that those (SB 420) guidelines violate the California Constitution."

If the pending People vs. Kelly suit prevails and the limits in SB 420 deemed unconstitutional, Figueroa said people can be over the current limits but still within their legal rights. Prosecutors, he argued, will have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt in court that the amount a person has is not related to his or her medical needs, likely having to produce medical experts to do so.

Faulder differs with Figueroa's position about the pending Kelly case. He said without SB 420 guidelines, "it's up to individual deputies to decide in the field whether this person is in compliance or not."

He said more specific doctors' recommendations would be needed, making the process more difficult for law enforcement, the District Attorney's Office and patients.

"They will still have to go through painful court hearings about what's lawful and what's not," Faulder said.

Tiffany Revelle can be reached at, or at 468-3523.

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Hooked on the marijuana money

Postby palmspringsbum » Mon Oct 26, 2009 3:03 pm

The Ukiah Daily Journal wrote:Hooked on the marijuana money

By TIFFANY REVELLE | The Daily Journal
Updated: 10/24/2009 12:48:10 AM PDT

Dan Fields (not his real name) knows what he's doing is illegal. But he doesn't sell marijuana because he's greedy; he does it to pay the bills.

Fields has a doctor's recommendation and grows three marijuana plants in his back yard, half of what he's allowed under state law. But like many of his fellow growers, Fields' plants produce more than what he can use for medicine - enough to live on.

He's had law enforcement out to inspect his plants and see his written recommendation, which he posts near his plants, and has been left alone.

Fields' plants are each about five feet tall, and are expected to produce about 20 pounds in all. Fields estimated near harvest time that might mean an untaxed, off-the-books profit of up to $40,000 for eight months of work.

Fields' wife said that estimate was too high. Both earn legitimate, taxed incomes, but don't make enough together to raise the household income above the poverty line.

"My son had a good Christmas last year," said Fields, a grower whose name has been changed. "I do this so I can feel normal for eight months out of the year, and not have to scrounge and worry and have to suck gas out of my car."

Fields isn't alone.

"Everybody and their uncle is selling here," Mendocino County Major Crimes Task Force Commander Bob Nishiyama said.

There's often a big difference between how much marijuana a person can grow and what they actually use for medicine. The average marijuana plant authorities haul away from an illegal grow is the size of a Christmas tree, and produces between three and five pounds of bud, according to Nishiyama.

Nishiyama recommends growers bury the excess and let it decompose into an unusable goo. To Fields and other growers like him, that's like flushing money down the toilet.

Growers and law enforcement disagree about the reason people who start out growing for legitimate medical conditions end up selling it: need or greed.

The shortest answer may be that they do it because they can. State law allows a person whose doctor recommends marijuana for a medical condition to have six mature plants or 12 immature plants, and up to eight ounces of processed - or harvested - marijuana.

"I can transport up to eight ounces - that's their wording," Fields said.

He has what his doctor considers a legitimate medical need: pain from an old back injury and nausea caused by chemotherapy for his lung cancer. He mixes a liquid form of his cannabis with butter and eats it for his ailments, but admits he sells about 75 percent of what he grows to local, undercover shops that resell it. He takes the legally-allowed eight ounces at a time to the shop owners.

But that's not where Fields makes the majority of his money. Growers and law enforcement authorities agree that Mendocino County's marijuana market is so flooded with people wanting to sell what they grow that growers have to send their pot out of the county to make much money.

Nishiyama said there were so many more sellers than buyers that a local dispensary had to shut down.

Fields estimates he gets $3,000 to $4,000 for a pound in Southern California, and also sells the stuff from his local office for $1,000 or $1,100 per pound.

Nishiyama said a pound is worth even more in other states. He's gotten calls about Mendocino County residents caught with 50 or 75 pounds from "every state in the union." Nishiyama gave the example of Chicago, where a pound of marijuana is worth $7,500.

But Nishiyama says the Task Force doesn't go after people like Fields, who are within legal parameters, even when investigators are positive it's not all for medicine.

Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman says his deputies have been to several 25-plant grows this year and have left the plants alone.

State law allows counties and cities to set their own guidelines. In Mendocino County, more than 25 plants per parcel is considered a nuisance - a nuisance to which Allman's deputies respond.

Prosecutors say they don't see cases where people are growing the current legal limit of six mature plants or 12 immature plants and eight ounces of processed marijuana. As with law enforcement, it's the big growers they're concerned about.

But defense attorneys tell a different story.

Keith Faulder, a private defense attorney who practices in Mendocino County and used to be a prosecutor, says he's seen a surge in the numbers of small busts over the last two or three years, mostly by the Task Force and the County of Mendocino Marijuana Eradication Team (COMMET).

"They're going after smaller grows associated with residences," Faulder said. "The only explanation I can come up with is that it's asset forfeiture-motivated."

He cited cases where law enforcement flys over the residences and spots a 35- to 50-plant grow and get a search warrant.

Most authorities agree that if no evidence of sales can be found, growers within the current legal parameters can stay below the radar screen.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys alike say that allows more focus on bigger issues: large-scale marijuana grows nestled in the forest and surrounded by booby traps and guarded by armed, illegal immigrants; rapes, murders, armed robberies and other violent crime.

Even the pending People vs. Kelly decision, which could deem the six-or 12-plant-and-eight-ounce state medical marijuana limit unconstitutional, wouldn't affect what law enforcement and prosecutors go after. It will still be the big fish they'll want to fry, according to Mendocino County District Attorney Meredith Lintott.

Fields admits he'd like to have more land so he could grow more marijuana. He says he enjoys the plant itself and loves growing it, but holds what many other marijuana proponents claim: using the plant isn't addictive. It's the financial effect that has him hooked.

<small>Tiffany Revelle can be reached at, or at 468-3523.</small>

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Marijuana at Ukiah High

Postby palmspringsbum » Mon Oct 26, 2009 3:16 pm

The Ukiah Daily Journal wrote:Marijuana at Ukiah High

By MONICA STARK | The Daily Journal
Updated: 10/24/2009 12:48:08 AM PDT

Marijuana and youth. How's that for a controversial topic? Kids say it's no big deal - that the drug is easy to get and everyone is doing it. A little more than half of the eleventh grade at Ukiah High School has tried it. One student at Ukiah High said that stoners are found near the lockers smoking and in classrooms when teachers' backs are turned. Many who smoke it don't consider it a drug at all. Some of them say that cocaine or methamphetamine users are the real drug addicts.

"They separate it in their minds...They differentiate between marijuana and those who use other substances," says Kathy James, a Ukiah Unified trustee and the chairwoman of the Mendocino County Alcohol and Other Drug Advisory Board.

Take Joe, a UHS student, for instance. He has been smoking for three years, often before, during and after school because "it's fun. It gives you something to do." Joe says he knows about 30 students on campus who have smoked marijuana. He claims to have a grade point average of 3.5 and so far has earned higher grades than last year. He does not smoke marijuana for a medical reason, he says.

Then there's Dave, who says pot has affected his school work. "It makes me want to ditch." Dave has smoked with his dad a few times, he said. He has a 2.5 GPA.

UHS Principal Dennis Willeford says that often during lunchtime, students will get a lunch pass to go off campus and then wander to Low Gap Park or the Crossroads Shopping Center for a smoke. It's not like the school has a lot of resources to keep up with the young smokers. Willeford said he will go have lunch off campus to catch some of them.

Students come to school high on a regular basis, says woodshop teacher Hillel Posner, some of whom tell him at the end of the year that they were high "all the time." Posner has found paraphernalia and remnants of the drug in the mezzanine above his classroom and said that students have used some of the class' tools to create smoking paraphernalia. He showed a pen cap as an example of what they might make in his class and then later use for smoking marijuana. "I do catch them," he said. "But how many of them don't I catch?"

He put video cameras inside his classroom over the summer because he had problems with petty theft and vandalism. The cameras, he said, have possibly been a reason why students are performing better than before.

But there are also students who have come to school smelling like weed and have been sent to the office on suspicion of being under the influence when in fact they're not. They've just absorbed the smell from their parents, Willeford said.

For the students who smoke marijuana, is there any data that shows it contributing to their failure in school? No, says James, but that's a question often asked. Some of them say "no," but for those who are in drug training, they might say "yes, that's why I am here."

With the passages of Proposition 215 and Measure B, the culture of marijuana has created a confusing environment for youth, says Willeford. "It's all so overblown," he says. "It sets a culture of which laws they want to follow. If their families do it, it's confusing for the student. Ninety-five percent of the kids are awesome; the other 5 percent pick and choose which rules they'll follow ... Marijuana is not allowed on campus."

So, there really isn't any excuse for smoking weed on campus. Even if students carry a medical marijuana card, district schools are zero tolerance. Though UHS is an open campus, students aren't even allowed to go to Low Gap Park during lunch, even though some evidently do.

One student said that campus "security" is able to see from the campus sidewalk on Low Gap Road students coming out of the park, and that when that happens, the students are sent to the office.

There are various consequences for students, depending on whether they are simply using pot or distributing it.

If caught smoking it (and not distributing it), students are put on "suspension-expulsion" status, meaning after their suspension, if they get caught again, they're expelled.

But if caught distributing marijuana to other students, they'll be expelled immediately.

So it would be logical to assume that with all the expulsions, there aren't too many repeat offenders on the campus. However, Willeford says that expulsions last only a year. So, for example, a student might be expelled when he/she is a freshman but can return to the school junior year.

Oftentimes, students expelled from UHS for smoking marijuana are referred to James or other members of the drug and alcohol adolescent team. "We educate at the same time as we're doing counseling," James says. And there are messages of prevention, such as on DVDs and VHS tapes that are done in such a way that they address the health hazards of tobacco smoking, chewing, and using various substances like binge drinking.

"It covers the whole area, health dangers, dangers of death," she said. Plus they're personalized. "Kids are into music, so there's music...Bill Cosby has an old one."

Back in the 1970s, the Department of Education created a Youth Development Pyramid that Willeford still goes by. The pyramid identifies things that people need the most in order to achieve at high levels. It notes that if drugs are prevalent, kids don't feel safe. So, the principal says, "We need to make sure the campus is safe ... Marijuana becomes a block to becoming productive."

Sarah Baldik contributed to this story. Monica Stark can be reached at or at 468-3520.
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Marketing Mendonesia

Postby palmspringsbum » Mon Oct 26, 2009 3:19 pm

The Ukiah Daily Journal wrote:Marketing Mendonesia

By CAROLE BRODSKY | The Ukian Daily Journal
Updated: 10/25/2009 12:00:14 AM PDT

A possible future for ganjapreneurship

Old-timers in Mendocino County may remember Bruce Perlowin - a guy who got busted in the 1980s at his compound-like home on Robinson Creek Road.

Appearing in CNBC's "Marijuana, Inc." documentary, Perlowin described his journey from Floridian hippie to marijuana kingpin - the mastermind of one of the most successful drug-smuggling enterprises in history.

Perlowin did his time, got out of jail, took up network marketing and was at the right spot during the birth of prepaid phone cards, saying his company, GlobalCom 2000, became "wildly successful."

He was intrigued about changes in California's marijuana laws. "I said jokingly to a colleague, if they legalize, I will network market marijuana.'" He did some homework and decided it was time to buy back his former Ukiah home.

The former super smuggler and his business partner decided, in Perlowin's words, "to position ourselves in the marijuana industry."

They changed their corporate name from Club VivaNet to Medical Marijuana, Inc., or MMI, and in March launched what he calls "the first publicly traded company based on the medical marijuana industry." The Pink Sheet stock split 10 to 1 shortly after its initial offering; 1.3 million shares were traded on Wednesday, with the price climbing a dime to 37 cents per share. Perlowin estimates there are currently about 3,000 shareholders.

"MMI will provide turnkey solutions for an emerging industry," says Perlowin. Conceptual graphics feature a satellite-tracked supply chain network - with closed-loop systems incorporating seed suppliers, cannabis kitchens, a testing facility, home delivery and more.

Perlowin's brainchild is the tax remittance card patients would use to purchase medicine from collectives. State, local and federal taxes would be funneled directly to the government. "We have signed on 28 collectives," states Perlowin. The system platform is being beta tested, but MMI literature clearly states real-time implementation requires governmental technology upgrades to accommodate "a very high level of daily transaction volume."

Collectives working with MMI seem excited by the possibilities, but on a few cannabis websites, individuals urge a closer look at the structure and history of MMI. Perlowin invites the inspection. "We're building the rails for the industry to ride on. We must be transparent." To that end, Perlowin is holding free informational seminars Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7 until 9 p.m. in the Discovery Inn's corporate room.

Are Perlowin's proposals right for Mendocino County? Matt Cohen, Cooperative Director of Northstone Organics, also seeks ways to regulate medical marijuana production, but unlike Perlowin, Cohen's puts the county at the center of the structural circle.

"My organization has standards in place," notes Cohen, who feels grower and product accountability will be created when marijuana production regulations close the industry loop. He is committed to a structure that will help the marijuana community to enact positive change and operate freely - like any business.

Northstone incorporated as a Community Supported Agriculture model, providing patients with medical marijuana, and if desired, organic produce and free-range eggs. His years working with dispensaries, he says, taught him the importance of consumers' rights to safe, quality medicine.

Cohen is not daunted by working within the system. He and other cannabis colleagues converse regularly with government and law enforcement.

He feels county Supervisor John McCowen's proposed changes to the county's medical marijuana ordinance are best suited to the needs of Northstone and the county - in contrast with the Mendocino Medical Marijuana Advisory Board, which endorses Supervisor John Pinches' proposal. "MMMAB has been the voice of the cannabis community. It's good for people to realize there are other views," says Cohen.

Cohen wants to "take the Wild West and bring it through a regulatory scheme."

Perlowin says, "MMI will create a compliance committee to bridge the gap between government, dispensaries and growers." Cohen feels that Mendocino to cannabis is like Kentucky to whiskey.

"We could be positioned for a boutique industry before tobacco moves in." Perlowin says, "It's either us, giant agribusiness or tobacco."

"The war's over," says the former kingpin. "Grow plants, pay your taxes and be part of the system." Cohen says, "In the future, I hope people look to Mendocino County as the standard bearer for sustainable industry."

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The Cannabis activists:

Postby palmspringsbum » Mon Oct 26, 2009 3:25 pm

The Ukiah Daily Journal wrote:The Cannabis activists:

By Carole Brodsky | The Ukiah Daily Journal
Updated: 10/25/2009 12:00:14 AM PDT

<span class="postbold">Working, bucking and changing the system</span>

For marijuana activists, the "stoner" caricature is beyond ludicrous. Those most affected by the vicissitudes of cannabis legislation are as versed in legalese as they are in discussing trichomes or your plant's CO2 uptake.

Pebbles Trippet - a representative of the Medical Marijuana Patient's Union and secretary of the Mendocino Medical Marijuana Advisory Board, asserts with her Oklahoman single-mindedness her constitutional right to obtain, use, possess, cultivate and transport marijuana for medical purposes with a doctor's approval. She also believes in her right to distribute and sell as permitted within a "closed-loop" membership association of collectively or cooperatively organized patients and caregivers - to enhance access to her medicine.

Trippet learned years ago that cannabis controlled her searing migraines. Endless court battles, jail time and appeals - stemming from arrests for transport of mere ounces of marijuana "leaf" resulted in "the Trippet Standard"- where legal precedent was set regarding the transportation of medical cannabis, seen today as an implicit right.

"In the '90's, I thought, am I going to have to be on trial for the rest of my life?" says Trippet, who was arrested 10 times in 11 years between 1990 and 2001.

She raised constitutional questions that were presented to the Supreme Court but never heard. Trippet posited whether punishing someone for possessing medicine could be deemed cruel and unusual, whether confiscating medicine could be considered unreasonable search and seizure and how cannabis-derived prescription medications like Marinol were considered medicine, but not their plant derivative.

Jim and Trelanie Hill investigated medical marijuana seven years ago for treatment of serotonin imbalances and digestive problems. They began to grow cannabis for patients and themselves.

"In June of 2006, COMMET raided our home and took our bank accounts, IRAs and our plants," said Jim Hill. When Hill reads the affidavit supporting COMMET's search warrant, he discovered that the raid was based upon a confession of a friend of their daughter, who stole some "shake," got caught and told law enforcement to head for the Hills.

"She confesses, admits to stealing, and the sheriff doesn't care if you get burglarized? We had no knowledge of the burglary until I read about it in the affidavit," Hill states.

Their case was dismissed in December of 2006, with charges dropped.

What was more egregious than the raid itself, says Hill, was an after-the-fact seizure of business checks from their bank account, two months after their arrest.

"They claimed the money was ill-gained," says Hill, displaying dozens of checks - for large and small amounts. "These checks were income from my business," explains Hill. The family sued the county and their property was returned in early 2007 - all their property, with the exception of their cannabis.

"The order to release the marijuana was signed in March of 2007. It is supposed to be held in custody by the court. It has never been returned," he said.

The only solution, according to Hill, is the cessation of asset forfeitures.

"Asset forfeiture is a crime against an object, not a person. Money doesn't have the right to an attorney. These are civil actions, so if you don't have money, there is no way to sue them to get your money back," Hill said.

Another raid by the DEA in the past weeks left the Hills feeling times may be changing.

"The agents were polite, non-threatening and treated us with dignity and respect. I believe they were sending a signal that their enforcement policy was about to change," Hill suggests.

Agents seized 19 mature, zip-tied cannabis plants and a number of un-sexed seedlings, which are not considered mature under California law. Hill once again asserts the legality of his operation, presenting a notebook filled with hundreds of medical marijuana physician recommendations. "We're not hiding. If there is anyone that's complying with medical marijuana regulations, it's me," says Hill.

The California Supreme Court in 2008 strictly defined caregiver, ruling that holding medical marijuana recommendations for others as a caregiver was illegal if all you were doing is growing patients' pot for them. Many former "caregivers" are now asserting their right to grow multiple plants as collectives or cooperatives, the limits of which are still undefined by the courts.

Hill is succinct. "People trying to provide medicine are labeled criminals. When they arrest another patient they create another activist."

One would think that Trippet and Hill, who last month named Sheriff Tom Allman party in a suit challenging the county's Medical Marijuana Cultivation Ordinance, would be at serious odds with law enforcement. Not so. "We have an excellent relationship," says Hill of the sheriff, and though they disagree on many issues, Trippet and Allman have a relationship based on mutual respect, she said.

Trippet now advises other patients and writes prolifically on issues pertaining to cannabis legislation. She is strongly opposed to county Supervisor John McCowen's proposal for changes to the County's 9.31 Medical Marijuana Ordinance. "We don't want to be classified as a nuisance, as garbage," explains Trippet.

"We've come out of decades of punishment," says Trippet, who will continue to fight for her belief that a simple plant, revered by societies throughout the world for thousands of years, should be accessible to people who might benefit from its healing medicine.

At the home of Trippet, the autumn light begins to wane and fingers of fog just begin to settle into the coastal hills. She picks up a wooden plaque resting near a statue of the Buddha. She reads the words aloud:

"Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

"Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

"Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself."

As she reads, her voice breaks. Tears drop onto the weathered pieces of wood. "I just love this," she says. "This is truly the way I feel."

<span class="postbold">MORE FROM GROWERS</span>

On the impression that people "fake" illnesses to get a recommendation:

"Marijuana is good for headaches. Do I ask you, why do you take aspirin?

"How can you tell if a person has diabetes, cancer or depression?"

On the idea that patient/growers don't need the amount they grow:

"Replace the medicine and ask the question - Why do you need so much ibuprofen? Why do you buy so much at one time?"

On the dangers of marijuana gardens:

"Look at any 400-acre vineyard. How many people may be killed or seriously hurt someone else because of grapes? The likelihood of someone dying because of MJ is very small."

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Feds Threaten Experimental Pot Program in Mendocino

Postby palmspringsbum » Sat Jul 09, 2011 9:21 am

This looks like the Mendocino version of Prop. 19: $10,000/year to grow 99 plants.

"Allman says the fees collected from legal growers help pay the department to hunt down illegal ones."

"As of last week, more than 70 people have received stamps of approval to grow medical marijuana, legally, at least in the eyes of Mendocino County."

That works out to $700,000 paid by marijuana growers to arrest marijuana growers.

Feds Threaten Experimental Pot Program in Mendocino

8-10 Jul 11 | The California Report

It's well known that some people who grow pot do so under the cover of state medical-marijuana laws, then sell it on the black market for bigger profits. In response, Mendocino County has started a novel program intended to license and monitor medical marijuana producers. But this attempt to regulate pot producers has put the county at odds with the feds. Reporter: Michael Montgomery

Since California legalized medical marijuana 15 years ago, pot production has exploded -- and not just in the legal market. It's well known that some people who grow pot do so under the cover of state medical-marijuana laws, then sell it on the black market for bigger profits. In response, Mendocino County has started a novel program intended to license and monitor medical marijuana producers. But this attempt to regulate pot producers has put the county at odds with the feds.

At an organic farm set in the sun-baked hills north of Ukiah, Mendocino sheriff Lieutenant Randy Johnson is having a most unusual meeting with the farm's owner, Matt Cohen.

"Has anything changed since I was here last?" Johnson asks.

"We've cut down some plants, which are drying." Cohen says.

The two men walk toward rows of bushy, bright green marijuana plants bulging out of a fenced compound at the back of Cohen's farm. Just a couple years ago, Johnson most likely would have been cutting down these plants and hauling them away as evidence. But today he's here to inspect them.

Each plant on Cohen's farm has a red tag, stamped with a unique number that's registered with the sheriff's department. Under a county ordinance, Cohen can have up to 99 of these plants, and each can yield up to 15 pounds of dry bud. He delivers the processed marijuana to customers in the Bay Area who have a doctor's recommendation as required by state law. The program costs pot farmers like Cohen up to $10,000 a year, and they must submit to monthly inspections by deputies like Johnson.

"It's a whole new world for us, and a whole new world for the farmers," says Johnson. "Literally one of the farmers told me, 'You know I just want to be relaxed about it. Do it legal. And be able to purchase property and not have to worry about getting it taken away.'"

Cohen says the program allows marijuana growers to work and live more openly.

"You meet somebody at the coffee shop and they say what do you do? Hey, I'm a cannabis farmer. It's a big difference."

Mendocino is the only place in California with an ordinance that makes it legal to be a cannabis farmer. And the program is attracting attention -- not all of it flattering.

"We're not a bunch of Cheech and Chong law enforcement officers that are encouraging people to grow marijuana. Nothing could be further from the truth," says Mendocino Sheriff Tom Allman.

Allman says county supervisors started the program out of frustration with the state's medical-marijuana law, which doesn't spell out how the industry should be regulated. So Allman says it's been hard for everyone, from growers to law enforcement, to know what's legal and what isn't.

"If I could put a subtitle on what we are doing, we are trying to remove the grey area," says Allman. "And if we can remove the inconsistencies, if we can have people not confused about the marijuana laws then I have succeeded."

Allman says the fees collected from legal growers help pay the department to hunt down illegal ones. But Tommy LaNier of the National Marijuana Initiative doesn't see a distinction.

"All marijuana is illegal. There's no question about it," says LaNier. "Tom's got a tough problem, but in my point of view it's illegal." LaNier helps coordinate enforcement actions under the White House Office of Drug Control Policy. He insists that neither California's marijuana law, nor the Mendocino licensing program, are allowed under the federal Controlled Substances Act.

"You need to be extremely careful when you enact laws that are in violation of the federal statues, because it won't fly," says LaNier.

But Mendocino supervisor John McCowan says the county is simply filling in the gaps in the state's law.

"The intention behind our ordinance was to control and regulate the industry. It wasn't to profit by being able to charge a tax on the growers. "

Back at his farm, Matt Cohen is busy expanding. His non-profit now has 15 employees, and he's founded of a county-wide trade group, called Mendogrown.

"I want to see Mendocino County be the Napa of cannabis after prohibition. I want all the good people in this community that are doing, what they're doing. I want them to be doing it legally and still have a job," says Cohen.

And as Mendocino's licensing program enters a second season, growers are flocking to public meetings.

"I think a lot of growers are really hungry for legitimacy. [I think] a lot of the growers feel righteous about what they're doing. And now they're starting to get a little recognition from the government," says Supervisor McCowan

Yet many growers are still suspicious of the program. It's also facing problems in neighboring counties where police have arrested licensed Mendocino growers transporting marijuana through their territory. And Tommy LaNier says a federal crackdown could be coming. The Justice Department recently warned that local governments -- and officials -- who run permit programs like Mendocino's could face federal prosecution, regardless of state law.

"Those entities, whether it be a city or county that facilitates in the allowance of that through some type of mechanism, whether it's a permit program or something like that, could be a target ? they could be a target," he says.

But John McCowan says the county will stand up to pressure from the feds to shut down the licensing program.

"I would like to have an explanation from the feds of what would they prefer to have us do? Do they want us to go back to the total chaos that characterized the industry three years ago? Do they think that was better for the community and public safety?"

As of last week, more than 70 people have received stamps of approval to grow medical marijuana, legally, at least in the eyes of Mendocino County.

[This story was produced in collaboration with the Center for Investigative Reporting.]
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