The Mendocino Medical Marijuana Advisory Board is co-sponsored a three-part medical marijuana meeting on October 2 with the Willits Grange.
First was a DA Forum between Lintott and Eyster, moderated by defense attorney Bill McPike. A video of the forum will be shown several times on Ukiah, Willits and Ft Bragg cable TV. McPike was honored on the cover of the National Law Journal, summer issue.
This was followed by the full length award winning film "Cash Crop", which was followed by a discussion with Director Adam Ross and Sheriff Tom Allman. Allman was prominently featured in the film as the local enlightened sheriff who "had better things to do than bust...medical marijuana".
Meanwhile, a giant military force invading the small isolated community of Covelo was the backdrop to the meeting.
I was receiving regular reports of medical patients being caught up in the raids, while Allman was saying to them things like, "there were 37 warrants and not one had a medical." We heard about multiple helicopters leased by the county, circling the valley for days, flying low, hovering over gardens, terrorizing the community on a mass scale — a prelude to the raids to come.
The context of the event was three full days of dozens of marijuana arrests, confiscations of whole gardens, seizing of children, devastation of the Indian Reservation — a virtual door-to-door seige in Covelo.
Massive numbers of multi-agency law enforcement swarmed the isolated Valley of 1000 homes, 90% of whom are reputed to be growing marijuana. There is very little else to sustain people. Plant numbers ranged from 50 to several hundred per parcel.
Generally speaking, they were small to medium grows that served several people. One woman who called said she was a property-owner and a qualified patient in two states and that she leased her property to her collective. "We thought we were in compliance."
Simultaneously, the troops were on missions in the nearby National Forest, accompanied by a National Geographic film crew reporting on the Marijuana War, just as they did on the Vietnam War.
So it seemed that Allman might expect a question or two from war-torn Covelo. There were two people there from Covelo but neither felt comfortable speaking. So I tried to speak for them.
I felt compelled to interrupt the discussion about the film with discussion about reality.
I simply stated a couple of facts — that Sheriff Allman just went to Washington to get more money to come back and bust us with and that we had gotten reports of medical raids in Covelo, unlike what the sheriff's office was claiming (all criminal, none medical).
I "questioned" his role and was urging a sense of accountability. The film was in the past. This was now.
He took it as an attack and said he would leave if the conversation continued.
So I let it go.
If some are faulting me for "attacking" the sheriff, they don't hear the words of the Covelo people,
"I've never seen a more somber town than Covelo in the last few days," said one resident. "It's a lot of headaches and heartaches. He (Allman) came in here and wrecked their lives. The families will suffer more than they already are. The children will be more hungry than they already are. The grocery store will suffer. The reservation will suffer. The town relies on the herb. The money goes back into the community. Now there is nothing but loss. And for what? He accomplished nothing but to bring the town down."
There is a perception that Sheriff Allman is responsible for the raids, judging by this comment and others. This is not necessarily the case, given involvement of multiple law enforcement agencies.
Allman needs to clear the air — be forthright and report frankly on a situation of this magnitude. If it is beyond his jurisdiction and out of his hands, all part of the widening war against marijuana as some think, it is in his interest to explain that, before his role is exaggerated beyond recognition.
Perhaps Covelo needs a Truth Commission, a public airing of testimony from all sides, a way of finding out what is truly happening in the marijuana wars in our midst.
California voters are being asked to end prohibition and legalize small amounts for personal use, while the epicenter of the marijuana wars to stop the tide of legalization is taking place in Mendocino County.
What's wrong with this picture?