California, Modesto

Medical marijuana by city.

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California, Modesto

Postby Midnight toker » Sat Jun 17, 2006 9:28 am

<span class=postbold>See Also</span>: <a class=postlink href=http://ordlink.com/codes/modesto/_DATA/TITLE10/Chapter_2_ZONING_REGULATIONS.html#43 target=_blank>Modesto Municiple Code §10-2-234-2</a> - Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

<span class=postbold>See Also</span>: <a class=postlink href=http://ordlink.com/codes/modesto/_DATA/TITLE10/Chapter_2_ZONING_REGULATIONS.html#330 target=_blank>Modesto Municiple Code Article 24.1</a> - Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

The Modesto Bee wrote:Soap store a front for pot outfit, cops say

Business's inventory, cash seized by police

The Modesto Bee
By PATRICK GIBLIN
BEE STAFF WRITER


Last Updated: June 17, 2006, 05:44:26 AM PDT


<img class=postimg src=bin/o_leary-shannon.jpg align=right title="Shannon O'Leary">Drug agents looked past the soaps and lotions at The Healthy Choice on McHenry Avenue in Modesto and sniffed out a marijuana store in the back, law enforcement officials said Friday.

Narcotics officers arrested Michael O'Leary, 37, of Modesto at the store, 4213 McHenry Ave. They are looking for his brother, Shannon O'Leary, 34, of Modesto, agent Kelly Rea said.

"The second store was just like a legitimate store, with shelves, prices listed and receipts given to the customers," said Rea, an agent with the Stanislaus Drug Enforcement Agency. "I've never seen anything like it."

There were prescription bottles filled with pre-weighed amounts of marijuana. There also were 50 to 100 pre-wrapped, marijuana-laced brownies and an equal number of marijuana-laced cookies. The store had a menu of prices and types of marijuana, with the different varieties neatly packed in Tupperware containers, Rea said.

"They offered full customer service," Rea said.

Local, state and federal drug agents raided the store about 9 a.m. Friday and stayed until about 1 p.m., seizing property and cataloging the inventory, sheriff's spokeswoman Gina Legurias said. They also seized about $20,000 in cash.

Approximately 30 people came to the store looking to buy marijuana while officers were there, Rea said.

About half of them had California medical marijuana cards, indicating they were suffering from cancer, glaucoma or other ailments. Marijuana is believed to help relieve the symptoms. However, the store isn't a licensed medical marijuana dispensary. The rest of the potential customers didn't have cards, Rea said.

"They sold to anyone and everyone," he said.

No customers were arrested. They were interviewed to give officers an idea of how much business the store did, Rea said.

<img class=postimg src=bin/o_leary-michael.jpg align=right title="Michael O'Leary">Michael O'Leary was booked into the Stanislaus County Jail in Modesto on charges of possession of marijuana for sale and criminal conspiracy. He was released on $25,000 bail Friday afternoon.

The store opened in February, according to county records. State tax and incorporation records list Shannon O'Leary as the owner, and Michael O'Leary as president. The store was licensed to sell soaps, body lotions and other similar products.

It sold few of those products.

"Employees told me they sometimes gave away the soaps to people who asked," Rea said. "He actually bought most of the soaps and lotions from the Dollar Store and marked them up to $3 for his store."

It was pretty obvious the store wasn't selling just soap, said Jeremey Conway with Conway's Fitness and Nutrition on Bangs Avenue. His business was moving out of the center about the same time Healthy Choice opened.

"We saw a lot of people going in there and coming out with either nothing or a bar of soap," Conway said. "Plus, it was called Healthy Choice and yet the employees always hung out front smoking cigarettes."

Authorities ask anyone with information about the store or the whereabouts of Shannon O'Leary to call Kelly Rea at 558-6300.

Bee staff writer Patrick Giblin can be reached at 578-2347 or pgiblin@modbee.com

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Marijuana card makes sense

Postby budman » Wed Sep 13, 2006 11:49 am

The Modesto Bee wrote:<span class=postbold>Additional letters regarding marijuana </span>

The Modesto Bee
Last Updated: September 13, 2006, 05:56:00 AM PDT


Marijuana card makes sense

Modesto Police Chief Roy Wasden does not support the county's implementation of the state-mandated medical marijuana ID card program because he fears it creates crime associated with drug use (Aug. 30, Page B-3).

His position is ironic because the ID card helps local officers distinguish legitimate patients from those who are abusing our state's medical marijuana law. The ID card proves to be working to reduce unlawful use of medical marijuana in the 21 counties with operating programs.

Is Chief Wasden really concerned about upholding public safety, or is he just looking for an excuse to continue harassing sick and dying patients for using therapeutic marijuana in compliance with state law? Sadly, this heartless political grandstanding against a decade-old law approved by the voters is being financed by local taxpayers.

Without the medical marijuana ID card program, Stanislaus County law enforcement officers will continue to arrest legitimate medical marijuana patients only to have their cases tossed out of court.

Hopefully the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors will do the right thing and approve the Health Department's plan to issue the state-mandated ID cards.

F. AARON SMITH, statewide coordinator, Safe Access Now

Santa Rosa

<hr class=postrule>

You would think the federal government and state could look in the past. When they made booze illegal, in stepped the Mafia and we all know what happened then -- killings, booze runs, making moonshine, and they made money. So now marijuana is the money-maker for the Mexican drug cartels.

Have you been watching the news or reading your paper? Houses have been located that are used only for growing marijuana in Oakhurst, Sacramento, etc. Our national forests are being used by the Mexican drug cartels, and restoring them after the cartels have made an environmental mess is going to take months and tens of thousands of dollars.

We taxpayers are paying for the war on drugs, the clean up, the agents that work for the war on drugs. It's not working. If marijuana was made legal, there would be no reason for drug cartels to grow and sell this. The state would get the taxes and could make regulations, which we need.

ROBERT BLANCHARD

Ceres

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Council moves to close pot loophole

Postby Midnight toker » Wed Sep 27, 2006 5:56 pm

The Modesto Bee wrote:Council moves to close pot loophole

Revised law would allow people to grow marijuana but not dispense it


By ADAM ASHTON
BEE STAFF WRITER
The Modesto Bee

Last Updated: September 27, 2006, 05:27:27 AM PDT


The Modesto City Council renewed its push to close a McHenry Avenue medical marijuana clinic Tuesday night, 10 months after it passed a law aimed at shutting the city's only cannabis club.

This time, the council directed City Attorney Susanna Alcala Wood to close a loophole in an ordinance that effectively allowed nonprofit medical marijuana dispensaries to do business.

The California Healthcare Collective, which opened on McHenry in late 2004, is registered as a nonprofit with the secretary of state's office.

Its attorneys have argued that the previous draft of the law did not apply to the club, although it did not identify itself formally as a nonprofit until Aug. 4, according to records from the secretary of state's office.

The clinic initially opened for business as a for-profit corporation, according to the state's records. Attorney James Anthony, who represents the collective's directors, said last week that they always intended for the clinic to operate as a nonprofit and they drafted bylaws that reflected their purpose.

Some of the clinic's clients pleaded with the council to let the collective stay in business.

"The only real relief that I get from the pain associated with (arthritis), and that has allowed me to be mobile, is the allowance of the use of medicinal marijuana," said Randall Jones, 51, a Turlock man who said he sought marijuana from street dealers before the collective opened.

"When I walk up, I don't feel like somebody's going to mug me," Jones said. "The dispensary makes me feel safe."

Council members directed Wood to rewrite the ordinance so it clarifies that people can grow marijuana for medicinal use in the city in accordance with state law, but that Modesto will not allow any business to sell the drug.

The city is trying to balance a state law that permits seriously ill people to use medical mari-juana with federal law, which prohibits all uses of marijuana and does not recognize any medical benefits to the drug, according to Wood's staff report.

Councilman Brad Hawn said he recognized that chronically ill people rely on medical marijuana to ease their pain, but he said he didn't want the city to permit sales of the drug.

"As a city, we should not have a dispensary," he said.

Elsewhere in Stanislaus County, cities are moving to prohibit medical marijuana dispensaries, but none has banned them yet. None of them has a clinic in business, either.

Ceres, Hughson, Newman, Riverbank, Turlock and Waterford each placed moratoriums on medical marijuana dispensaries this year. City attorneys have advocated for those temporary restrictions to give them time to sort out their obligations under conflicting state and fed-eral laws.

Jones and several others at the meeting said it was unreasonable to expect sick people to grow their own marijuana.

"I can't garden," he said. "I can't bend over."

Ken Gardner, 41, said he lives near the clinic and has not seen an uptick in crime that would justify the city forcing the collective to close. He said growing marijuana outdoors could attract dangerous people who could harm those who rely on medicinal cannabis.

"I would like to see something tangible that shows the dispens-ary is a problem," Gardner said.

In December, Police Chief Roy Wasden and Sgt. Craig Gund-lach argued in favor of banning the dispensaries. They said medical marijuana cards frequently were found at large drug busts, sometimes with serious narcotics, such as methamphetamine.

Representatives from the clinic did not attend Tuesday's meeting. They have filed a lawsuit against the city seeking to block Modesto from enforcing its ban on dispensaries, but they have not served the city with a complaint.

Anthony said he would do so if the city tries to shut the clinic under its previous law.

Bee staff writer Adam Ashton can be reached at 578-2366 or aashton@modbee.com.

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DEA, IRS, Modesto Police Raid Medical Marijuana Business

Postby Midnight toker » Wed Sep 27, 2006 6:17 pm

KXTV News 10 ABC wrote:DEA, IRS, Modesto Police Raid Medical Marijuana Business

Written for the web by C. Johnson, Internet News Producer
Written for the web by Elizabeth Bishop, Senior Internet News Producer
KXTV News 10 ABC
September 27, 2006


<table class=posttable align=right width=185><tr><td class=postcell><img class=postimg width=185 src=bin/modesto_bust.jpg></td></tr></table>Agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Internal Revenue Service and the Modesto Police Department raided what they say is one of the biggest medical marijuana dispensaries in Northern California.

This morning, officers went to the California Healthcare Collective at Fairmont Avenue and McHenry Avenue in Modesto to serve seven search warrants. The search came in the wake of a number of federal indictments against the owners of the collective.

Between the business and several residences named in the warrants, agents recovered 60 pounds of marijuana, 30 pounds of baked goods laced with marijuana, two pounds of hashish, three loaded guns, $16,000 in cash, a 2007 Mercedes-Benz and a 2006 Dodge pick-up truck.

Taken into custody were the Collective's chief financial officer Luke Scarmazzo, 26; proprietor Ricardo Ruiz Montes, 26 and employees Jose Francisco Malagon, 33 and Antonio Malagon, 28. All of the men are from Modesto and all are facing charges of conspiracy to manufacture and distribute marijuana. A conviction carries a sentence of 10 years to life imprisonment.

In the investigation, a DEA spokesman said as many as 400 people a day were going into the Collective. Undercover agents were able to use fake identification and fake physician prescriptions to buy marijuana. They observed individuals coming into the shop, buying marijuana and then selling it in the shop's parking lot.

The collective employed security guards making between $120 and $150 an hour. There was an ATM and a money-counting machine inside the business.

Quarterly financial statements on record with the city showed the Collective took in $1.25 million in the first two quarters of 2006.

The DEA said they've raided seven such operations calling themselves marijuana dispensaries and today's operation was by far the largest.

The raid comes on the heels of a vote by the Modesto City Council Tuesday to close a loophole in an ordinance aimed at banning medical marijuana businesses. Previously, the ban only applied to marijuana dispersaries that made a profit from sales. The Collective claimed it was a non-profit organization. The council changed the ordinance so it now applies to non-profits as well.

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Modesto Medical Marijuana Dispensary Raided

Postby Midnight toker » Fri Sep 29, 2006 2:05 pm

KCRA.com wrote:KCRA.com

Modesto Medical Marijuana Dispensary Raided
DEA, Police Raid California Healthcare Collective

POSTED: 5:54 pm PDT September 27, 2006
UPDATED: 6:23 pm PDT September 27, 2006

MODESTO, Calif. -- The Drug Enforcement Administration has broken up what it calls the largest medical marijuana dispensary in Northern California.

Modesto police and federal agents said the California Healthcare Collective sold marijuana to people who did not have valid doctor's recommendations.

A California Healthcare Collective employee said he was shocked that his workplace was busted.

"People need help, right? They're helping them," employee Santos Lopez said.

But investigators said the California Healthcare Collective wasn't just selling marijuana to patients who are registered users, they were also selling to ordinary people who just wanted to get high.

The DEA began its investigation last year, and said it has watched the store make millions in just months.

"This is the largest so-called medical marijuana dispensary that we've investigated in the Central Valley and inland Northern California," DEA agent Gordon Taylor said.

In addition to the store on McHenry Avenue, seven homes were raided on Wednesday.

Seized were 60 pounds of marijuana, pot-laced foods including cookies and Rice Krispie treats, $16,000 in cash, guns, and a 2007 Mercedes valued at $170,000.

Four men were arrested, including 26-year-old Luke Scarmazzo, who identified himself as the store's chief financial officer.

Meanwhile, confused customers gathered in the California Healthcare Collective parking lot.

"As far as I know, everybody here had been complying with the state law," a customer said.

But investigators said despite Scarmazzo's claim that he's doing a service to the community, they believe he's all about making money and point to his rap music video on the Internet.

"Make no mistake about it. This is not a medical marijuana issue. This is a lot of drugs into our community, feeding the drug problem that we face. It simply will not be tolerated," Modesto Police Chief Roy Wasden said.

This is not Scarmazzo's first brush with law.

Scarmazzo served time for his role in the 2003 beating death of Jonathon Shyrock, who was killed in retaliation for a car-egging incident.

<hr class=postrule>
<center><small>Copyright 2006 by KCRA.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.</small></center>

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KCRA.com

Postby Midnight toker » Sat Sep 30, 2006 1:17 pm

KCRA.com wrote:KCRA.com

Hughson Home Raided In Marijuana Probe
More Than 1,000 Plants Found


POSTED: 3:08 pm PDT September 28, 2006
UPDATED: 5:29 pm PDT September 28, 2006

<table class=posttable align=right><tr><td class=postcell><img class=posting src=bin/marijuana_plants-in-paper-bag.jpg width=300></td></tr></table>HUGHSON, Calif. -- Additional search warrants were served on Thursday related to Wednesday's raid on a Modesto medical marijuana store, law enforcement officials said.

Authorities said their ongoing investigation led them to a house on Third Street in Hughson, which they said is connected to the same people involved in the California Healthcare Collective. Authorities allege the business sold marijuana to people who did not have valid doctor's recommendations.

Investigators said 1,131 marijuana plants were found inside the home in Hughson and that 100 of them were fully grown.

"With the help of the community, we are working together to stop the drug problem in our community," Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department spokesman Raj Singh said.

Two homes in Modesto were also searched Thursday by federal agents. Marijuana that was ready to sell was found in the homes, but no plants were found growing, authorities said.

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Modesto Medical Marijuana Crackdown Prompts Protests

Postby Midnight toker » Mon Oct 02, 2006 12:37 am

News 10 ABC wrote:Modesto Medical Marijuana Crackdown Prompts Protests

Written for the web by Tim Daly, Reporter
News 10 ABC
September 29, 2006


<img src=/bin/icon_video.gif> Video


When a Modesto marijuana medicinal facility was raided this week, it led to the arrests of four people for allegedly selling pot to people who weren't sick.

About 30 people picketed in protest outside the Modesto Police Department Friday, calling it unfair that a medicinal facility be shut down.

A spokesperson for Safe Access Now said even though California Healthcare Collective had problems with police, it leaves many people who need marijuana for their illnesses out in the cold.

One picketer who complained of bad knees and hips said the closure forces him to drive to Sacramento or San Francisco for his medical marijuana.

Friday's protest even produced an opposition protest. Two people stood on a nearby street corner with signs, arguing that medicinal marijuana is a scam. Linda Taylor told News 10 that marijuana is a gateway drug, that leads to other narcotics. She said marijuana shouldn't have been considered medicine in the first place.

Created: 9/29/2006 5:17:13 PM Updated: 9/29/2006 6:38:06 PM


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Feds Raid Home Linked To Medical Marijuana Seizure

Postby Midnight toker » Mon Oct 02, 2006 12:44 am

CBS wrote:Sep 29, 2006 3:45 pm US/Pacific

Feds Raid Home Linked To Medical Marijuana Seizure

CBS
September 29, 2006


(AP) HUGHSON, Calif. Local and federal drug agents seized 1,100 more plants linked to a medical marijuana shop accused of illegally selling drugs to agents with fake identifications and bogus prescriptions.

Officials raided a Hughson home Thursday, the day after drug enforcement agents arrested the directors and employees of California Healthcare Collective.

Directors Luke Scarmazzo, 26, Ricardo Montes, 26, and employees Jose Malagon, 33, and Antonio Malagon, 28, face federal drug charges.

On Wednesday, agents found $16,000 in cash, 34 pounds of pot-laced baked goods, and guns at the shop. The business earned $4.5 million since it opened in late 2004, said Drug Enforcement Agent Gordon Taylor. State law allows only nonprofit cooperatives to distribute marijuana.

Defense lawyer Robert Forkner, who represents the directors, said the shop provided a lawful community service.

A statewide medical marijuana advocacy group agreed.

"These people were helping patients, and that's the bottom line," said Aaron Smith, a coordinator for Safe Access Now. The organization planned to protest the raids Friday.

Scarmazzo and Montes face a 10-year prison sentence, if convicted.


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Tuolumne Narcotics Team Aids In Medical Marijuana Bust

Postby budman » Sat Oct 07, 2006 8:07 pm

MyMotherLode.com wrote:Tuolumne Narcotics Team Aids In Medical Marijuana Bust

Friday, October 06, 2006 - 02:35 PM

Alisha Cruz
MML News Reporter
MyMotherLode.com

Modesto, CA-- The Tuolumne Narcotics Team is helping to further investigate the California Healthcare Collective, Modesto's only medical marijuana dispensary.

On September 27th, the team along with several other companies worked together to raid the Healthcare Collective as well as seven homes associated with its directors.

Officials say this followed a several month investigation where agents purchased various forms of marijuana from the clinic with fake doctor recommendations and consistently found marijuana in the hands of healthy people in Stanislaus and surrounding counties.

So far, there have been four felony arrests made for various charges including, but not limited to, possession for sales of marijuana and conspiracy to commit sales of marijuana.

Several items were seized including 60 pounds of marijuana, 34 pounds of baked goods laced with marijuana, $16,000, three handguns, and two vehicles.

Written by alisha.cruz@mlode.com

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Pot clinics, cards up for votes

Postby palmspringsbum » Sat Nov 04, 2006 8:32 pm

The Modesto Bee wrote:Pot clinics, cards up for votes

City expected to ban dispensaries; county will decide on issuing IDs

By ADAM ASHTON
BEE STAFF WRITER
The Modesto Bee

Last Updated: October 23, 2006, 05:56:54 AM PDT


The City Council is expected to vote Tuesday night on permanently banning medical marijuana dispensaries, three weeks after the federal Drug Enforcement Administration shut down Modesto's only pot clinic.

That same day, the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote on installing a program to issue medical marijuana cards through the state Department of Health Services.

It could be a long day for medical marijuana supporters, with officials at both meetings lining up against pot dispensaries.

"I'm opposed to the medical marijuana card in the first place," Supervisor Ray Simon said. "I am concerned about its abuse and the great potential for abuse."

State law permits sick people to use medical marijuana; federal law does not. Cities and counties have been trying to balance the two since California approved its Compassionate Use Act 10 years ago.

The Modesto council 10 months ago tried to close the McHenry Avenue clinic by banning for-profit cannabis dispensaries, but the California Healthcare Collective was a nonprofit and remained open.

The council had to overrule the city's Planning Commission to implement its first law. This time, the commission supports banning dispensaries.

Chairwoman Alita Roberts said she and other planning commissioners changed their minds after seeing police reports that described healthy people getting the drug from the clinic.

Police contend some people easily obtained fake doctor's recommendations to buy marijuana at the collective, and others purchased cannabis on the street from the patients.

"I wish there were a way that it could be made available to people who are really, really sick, but somehow it just didn't seem to work the way the city of Modesto had it," Roberts said.

The Police Department and the DEA say the clinic was a front to sell marijuana to people who didn't need it.

Directors pleaded innocent

People who worked or shopped at the Modesto collective said directors took pains to check doctor's recommendations and keep out people who didn't have cards for use of the drug.

Its directors, Ricardo Montes and Luke Scarmazzo, on Oct. 13 pleaded innocent to federal drug distribution charges. Their lawyer has maintained that they opened a legal business in compliance with state law.

Medical marijuana supporters say the city could avoid some of the problems it encountered by regulating the clinics more closely.

"Well-controlled regulations are much more preferable to a ban," said Aaron Smith, a statewide coordinator for Safe Access Now. "You're basically throwing patients on the streets, saying 'You can use medical marijuana but you have to go to some street corner to a drug dealer.'"

Smith said one tool to regulate the drug in the county could be the medical marijuana cards that supervisor Simon opposes.

"This gives the legitimate patients an option to make sure that, whoever they show this card to, that it is backed up and verified by the county," he said.

The state requires counties to issue cards, but three counties are suing the attorney general's office to overturn the law. The counties — Merced, San Diego and Riverside — argue the state is forcing them to break a federal law. A court hearing is scheduled Nov. 16.

Simon said he wants to see what happens with that lawsuit before installing the card program.

Mary Ann Lee, managing director of the county Health Services Agency, said her department wants direction from supervisors about whether to proceed.

If the supervisors tell the county to implement the cards, Lee's department would be responsible for verifying doctor's recommendations for medical marijuana use and then forwarding information to the state health agency, which would issue the cards.

Cops opposed to cards

Smith said the cards would make it easier for police to determine who has justifiable need for medical marijuana, but Stanislaus County's top cops oppose the cards.

Modesto Police Chief Roy Wasden wrote a letter to supervisors in August lobbying against the cards. The Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department also wants supervisors to hold off on the program, Assistant Sheriff Bill Heyne said.

"We're not opposed to people using a drug that benefits them because of their physical ailment; that's not the issue," Heyne said. "What this is leading to is abuse by anyone and everyone."

<span class=postbold>The Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors meets at 9 a.m. Tuesday in the basement chamber at Tenth Street Place, Modesto. The Modesto City Council meets at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in the basement chamber of Tenth Street Place. </span>

On the Net: www.co.stanislaus.ca.us/bos/agenda/2006 ... 24/B14.pdf ;
www.ci.modesto.ca.us/ccl/agenda/ar/2006 ... 024-37.pdf .

Bee staff writer Adam Ashtoncan be reached at 578-2366 or aashton@modbee.com.

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Go after forgers, not pot club

Postby palmspringsbum » Sat Nov 04, 2006 8:49 pm

The Modesto Bee wrote:Go after forgers, not pot club

The Modesto Bee
October 24, 2006

Regarding "'Good people who ... need it' protest Rx pot arrests" (Sept. 30, Page A-1) about people protesting the arrest of local cannabis club owners for alleged illegal distribution of medicinal marijuana: Much like the protesters, I feel that shutting down the club unfairly punishes law-abiding patients in need of the drug.

One of the main reasons the Drug Enforcement Agency shut down the club was that patients were buying the drug with fake prescriptions, then illegally reselling to others. I agree that those engaged in such activities should be dealt with accordingly, but I feel we should deal with those individuals as the problem, not the club.

If a person were to somehow pass off a fake prescription for Valium at a local pharmacy, then illegally resell the drug on the street, the DEA wouldn't shut down the pharmacy. If the DEA keeps shutting down clubs, many patients who need the drug for relief might turn to illegal sources.

It's been proven time and again that marijuana has medicinal properties, and we shouldn't punish the good people who truly need it.

MICHAEL P. ELIZONDO

Salida


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The truth about medicinal pot

Postby palmspringsbum » Sat Nov 04, 2006 8:51 pm

The Modesto Bee wrote:The truth about medicinal pot

The Modesto Bee
October 24, 2006

I voted yes on Proposition 215 in 1996. I am a registered nurse and at the time was working with oncology patients. I agree that these patients, as well as many others, could at least receive no harm from marijuana — if not receive multiple benefits. However, the recent letters stating that if medical marijuana were available at drugstores our prisons would not be overcrowded are ludicrous. When was the last time a patient using medical marijuana went to prison for marijuana possession, or jail, or even was arrested?

Only people who take this to the extreme (pot houses, etc.) suffer these severe punishments. Most of the debate either for or against medicinal marijuana rarely touches the issues that got it voted into law to begin with.

Terminally ill patients do not buy extra weed to sell to little kids. And no medical studies show how long one is impaired by smoking marijuana vs. how long it is in their system.

SCOTT O'CONNER

Modesto
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Modesto police seize pot plants in 2 raids

Postby palmspringsbum » Sun Nov 19, 2006 11:30 am

The Modesto Bee wrote:Modesto police seize pot plants in 2 raids

By ROSALIO AHUMADA
BEE STAFF WRITER
The Modesto Bee

Last Updated: November 17, 2006, 05:27:22 AM PST


Modesto police drug and gang enforcement units seized 143 marijuana plants in two drug busts Wednesday.

Acting on tips, the officers served search warrants at two homes in northwest and north Modesto.

<table class=posttable align=right width=200><tr><td class=postcell><img class=postimg src=bin/arrests.jpg></td></tr></table>Police arrested three Modesto men on drug charges at the first home and are looking for three suspects in the second drug-selling operation, Sgt. Craig Gundlach said on Thursday.

He said the three suspects who were arrested claimed to have medical marijuana cards. In the second home, medical marijuana documentation was found, Gundlach said.

However, Gundlach said the marijuana plants and the dried drug products seized are well above state limits and the evidence gathered indicates the marijuana was being grown for sale, which is illegal.

On Wednesday morning, officers served a search warrant at 4032 Sara Jane Court, a few blocks south of Pelandale Avenue and east of Highway 99.

According to police, officers seized 77 marijuana plants, 4 pounds of dried marijuana, steroids and evidence of marijuana sales.

The officers also found six guns, including a loaded shotgun in a bedroom closet, a loaded rifle in the living room and an unloaded SKS assault rifle on a bedroom floor.

Jeffery Velthoen, 22, and Brandon Botelho, 23, were arrested at the home on suspicion of cultivation of marijuana, possession of marijuana for sale, conspiracy and being armed in the commission of a felony, Gundlach said.

Bradley Botelho, 21, was arrested on the same charges with an additional charge of illegal possession of steroids.

At 4:30 p.m., the same officers served a search warrant at 4204 Acclaim Way, just south of Claratina Avenue.

The officers seized 66 marijuana plants and 1.5 pounds of dried marijuana. Police also seized a 1999 Mercedes, $5,000 in cash and $6,000 worth of jewelry.

Gundlach said arrest warrants have been issued for James Weigel, 28, Jeremy Crandall, 27, and Joseph Roark, 27, all of Modesto, on suspicion of possessing marijuana for sale, cultivation of marijuana and conspiracy to commit a felony.

Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at 578-2394 or rahumada@modbee.com.

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After son vanishes, a quest for answers

Postby palmspringsbum » Tue Jan 02, 2007 6:24 pm

The Modesto Bee wrote:After son vanishes, a quest for answers

Family fears Modesto man could be victim of foul play


BY TY PHILLIPS
BEE STAFF WRITER


Last Updated: December 25, 2006, 04:37:41 AM PST


<table class=posttable align=right width=240><tr><td class=postcell><img class=postimg width=240 src=bin/kaiser_family.jpg></td></tr><tr><td class=postcap>No one in the Kaiser family of Modesto, which includes from left, Brad Kaiser, Matt Kaiser, Susan Mitchell, Jody and Len Kaiser, has seen or heard from Toby Kaiser since he called home on Nov. 30.
MARTY BICEK/THE BEE
</td></tr></table>There is a bare Christmas tree standing in the living room of Len and Jody Kaiser's house. It has lights, but few decorations. There are some presents, but nothing like it usually is.

Simply, and sadly, this year it doesn't feel like Christmas at the Kaisers' Modesto home.

Len, a longtime Modesto City Schools educator who was a coach and athletic director at Modesto High School from 1961 to 1991, has terminal lung cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. He had one lung removed a year ago; he was released from a hospital Friday.

He has been losing a lot of weight lately, but family members don't think the cancer is the main culprit. No, they say, it's probably mostly because of the stress of worrying and wondering what has happened to the Kaisers' troubled son, Toby.

No one in the family has seen or heard from Toby since Nov. 30 when the 48-year-old man called from a house in the small town of Somerset in rural ElDorado County. He had gone there to pick up his disability check, according to his mother.

"It's very unusual," Jody Kaiser said. "With his father being as sick as he is, Toby always called once or twice a day. He never failed to call to see how his dad was."

Jody Kaiser and Susan Mitchell, Toby's older sister, think he probably became a victim of foul play. One of his brothers thinks Toby probably crashed his car on a steep mountain road and no one has spotted the wreckage. There are no answers, only guesses.

And that's part of the Kaisers' problem: Due at least partly to his unsavory lifestyle, few people appear to be looking for Toby Kaiser.

<table class=posttable align=right width=240><tr><td class=postcell><img class=postimg src=bin/kaiser_toby.jpg></td></tr><tr><td class=postcap>Toby Kaiser hugs his father, Len, in this family photo taken in 2003. His last known whereabouts were in El Dorado County.</td></tr></table><span class=postbold>He's been in, out of rehab programs</span>

Many families have a child whose life plays out somewhat like Toby's has. He was born to hardworking parents, a good kid who started running around with a rougher crowd during his teenage years. In time, he became the kid other hardworking parents didn't want their children hanging around. He never graduated from Beyer High School, and drug problems have led him in and out of numerous rehabilitation programs during his adult life.

Under the guise of medical marijuana, he maintained a large marijuana field that he claimed produced 25 to 30 pounds of marijuana a year, his family said. Sometimes, he showed up at the Kaiser home with scary-looking friends. Once, he left his wallet lying around, and someone discovered a stack of bills inside that amounted to $10,000.

"I think foul play — I just feel it in my bones," Mitchell said. "He was running with some pretty rough people. But he's still my brother, and he's still my mom and dad's son. But I think who he was is why the cops aren't doing anything."

As she talks about her brother, Mitchell breaks into tears. The frustration is partly because she fears the worst, but it's also because she and her family feel they are pretty much on their own in their quest for answers.

Mitchell filed a missing persons report Dec. 6 with the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department. Because Toby's last known whereabouts were at the Somerset home the day he called his mother, the case was transferred to El Dorado County. A deputy sheriff went to the home, but no one was there, so the deputy left, Mitchell said. To her knowledge, law enforcement officials have done little else despite repeated calls from family members.

<span class=postbold>Relatives intensifying search efforts</span>

The Kaiser family hired a private investigator to follow leads in the case. The family had fliers with Toby's picture printed and distributed in various places throughout the county, located on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada. They are looking into hiring a pilot to conduct an aerial search of mountainous areas where Toby was known to drive.

The family tried to get records for Toby's cell phone, but Verizon officials said they can't release the records without a search warrant signed by a judge.

"And the detectives told us they won't do it," Mitchell said, "because they don't think there's any proof of anything amiss to seek a warrant."

Detectives working the case were unavailable to comment this weekend.

Meanwhile, Mitchell suspects she has spoken to people who know what happened to Toby.

Shortly after he stopped calling home, Mitchell said, she spoke to the man who rents the house where Toby stored belongings and had his mail sent. She asked if any mail had come for Toby, and the man adamantly said no. Two weeks later, she spoke to the same man and again asked if Toby had received any mail.

"He said yes, a letter from the Health Department and a disability check," Mitchell said. "Then he stopped and said, 'Toby must have put in a change of address.' Because he remembered what he told me before. …

"When I asked him what he did with the mail, he said he wrote 'return to sender' and sent it back. That struck me as very odd. Toby had a closet full of belongings there. Why would you send the mail back unless you knew he wasn't coming back?"

For now, that remains just another question that doesn't have an answer. And, for the Kaisers, today is just another long day in a season that has felt like anything but a holiday.

"We put our tree up, but that's about it," Mitchell said. "It's the middle of the afternoon and I haven't even gotten out of bed today. I'm just exhausted and I'm depressed. It's awful. And my mom, with already being my dad's caregiver 24/7 and now all of this, I'm so worried about her. But she's been doing well. Like a rock."

<center><small>Bee staff writer Ty Phillips can be reached at 874-5716 or tphillips@modbee.com.</small></center>

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Pot raid not people's will, either

Postby palmspringsbum » Thu Feb 01, 2007 1:10 pm

The Modesto Bee wrote:Pot raid not people's will, either

The Modesto Bee
Last Updated: January 31, 2007, 06:00:30 AM PST


Before we get too carried away with our praise for the raid at Modesto's medical marijuana dispensary ("Drug czar honors officers for raid," Jan. 19, Page B-2), let's remember that it was done against the will of the people.

California voters approved Proposition 215 in 1996. It made marijuana available for medicinal use on a doctor's recommendation.

This is only a sample of what we'll get when the theocratic agenda of the Republican Party is fully implemented.

JOHN AMRHEIN

Modesto

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City to appeal medical marijuana ruling

Postby palmspringsbum » Fri Dec 07, 2007 4:05 pm

The Merced Sun Star wrote:MercedSunStar.com
City to appeal medical marijuana ruling

The Merced Sun-Star
By LESLIE ALBRECHT
lalbrecht@mercedsun-star.com
August 28, 2007


The battle of the buds hasn't yet gone up in smoke.

The city will appeal a recent ruling that awarded $1,700 to medical marijuana user Sam Matthews. The money was meant to compensate Matthews for pain and suffering and the loss of $300 in pot that police confiscated last October.

But Chief Deputy City Attorney Jeanne Schechter says giving Matthews the money would be tantamount to the city buying illegal drugs. "We believe there's no legal basis in ordering the city to pay for contraband," said Schechter.

The city will file its appeal this week in Merced Superior Court.

The legal to-and-fro hasn't dampened Matthews' fighting spirit. He now plans to hire a lawyer and sue the city again, this time for $25,000.

"If they would have paid me my small claims money I would have just disappeared -- poof!," said Matthews. "But you can sure bet your bottom dollar that I'm not giving up. Last time they got slapped, this time they'll get Tysoned" -- a reference to onetime boxing champ Mike Tyson.

The city's appeal marks yet another chapter in what Matthews calls his David-and-Goliath struggle with the city. It's also another example of how people like Matthews get caught between conflicting strands of federal and state laws regulating marijuana.

Matthews, a 25-year-old Merced College student who uses medical marijuana to ease back and knee pain, was handcuffed by police last October after he was discovered "medicating" -- smoking pot -- in his parents' garage.

Matthews showed police an Alameda County medical marijuana user card and a doctor's note, but he was cited for possession of pot. Police also confiscated Matthews' "medicine" -- 26.5 grams of pot -- and locked it in an evidence warehouse.

In May, Merced County started issuing medical marijuana cards, which are meant to prove to local law enforcement that the user is following the 1996 state law legalizing medicinal pot.

But Matthews' run-in with police happened months before Merced Police adopted a policy recognizing the cards. Officers had no choice but to follow the federal law that calls pot illegal, said Police Commander Tom Martin. "When there's ambiguity in the law, it leads to the dilemma that we're in today," said Martin.

The criminal charges against Matthews were eventually dropped, but a judge ruled two weeks ago that his pot be destroyed. Police burned the marijuana in an incinerator. Matthews said he doesn't mind that his stash went up in flames, especially because its potency had likely diminished over the past several months. "To me, it was more of a personal thing," said Matthews. "I would have liked to have gotten it back to show the police they were wrong."

Meanwhile, Matthews also sued the city in small claims court, seeking $7,500 in damages for pain and suffering he experienced when he lost his medical marijuana. A judge ruled earlier this month in Matthews' favor, ordering the city to pay $1,700.

But Schechter, with the City Attorney's office, said Judge Armando Rodriguez offered no legal basis for his decision. She also noted that if the city paid Matthews, it could leave the city open to paying out similar claims in the future.

But Matthews calls the city's appeal a waste of taxpayer money. "How much money has it cost the taxpayers?" said Matthews. "All the city had to do was say, We're sorry sir, we made a mistake, here's your money.'"

Schechter said the city has not been tracking the cost of fighting the Matthews' case.

However much the city forks out fighting him, Matthews says he'll keep fighting just as hard so that his grass is greener.

<small>Reporter Leslie Albrecht can be reached at 209-385-2484 or lalbrecht@mercedsun-star.com</small>.
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