"Next week if they take my medical cannabis I will be pissed off and demand they give it back!"
--Angel Raich, Northstone Organics patient
Angel Raich spoke these words after Northstone Organics' drivers were stopped on Highway 101 by Sonoma County Sheriff's deputies and the medical cannabis confiscated for the second day in a row.
Angel's words are an example of the average experience – people don't get pissed off until it happens to them. However Angel is not average. She has been pissed off for years because she went to the US Supreme Court and challenged the federal law and lost. "I fought the law and the law won" could be her motto.
I certainly do not fault her for losing, having been a loser in court most of my life....until seven years later when I finally won the right to transport an amount "reasonably related to the patient's medical condition". Learning how to lose is the most important part of learning how to win.
If you don't know how to lose, you won't stick it out to eventually win. I encourage Northstone Organics to do exactly what Angel said in regard to consecutive illegal seizures of medicine from Northstone's patients last week—demand that Sonoma County give the medical marijuana back on a "Return of Property" motion, using People v Kha as the precedent.
File a civil suit on behalf of the patients who were deprived of medicine that was illegally seized. Kha is an exceptionally good law because the US Supreme Court could have thrown it out but instead refused to review it, told the local authorities to return the property and let the appellate level precedent stand.
This is perhaps Joe Elford's most important case.
Sonoma County may file criminal charges to justify the theft of medicine, as the Mendocino DA did with Lester "Smitty" Smith, age 90, of Philo. Old man Smitty died last week—his heart finally gave out—but he won his return of property motion with the help of Atty Keith Faulder and got his $54,000 life savings back before he died. A 2-year long ordeal—the theft of his medicine and life savings, plus being forced to fight a criminal case for a seriously ill 90-year-old—was cruel and futile.
His daughter believes "it had a hell of an effect on his health problems. He went downhill after his privacy was invaded and his and Mary's money was taken. That led to the reason he passed away."
Lovable old man Smitty didn't lose his money but he lost his life and his respect for law enforcement in the process. I hold the Mendocino County sheriff's office and DA responsible for "quickening" his death.
What puzzles me about the Northstone cases is why Director Matt Cohen has not informed the medical cannabis community about what's going on. We need regular press releases directly from Northstone, so we don't have to rely on law enforcement's information and point of view.
Whatever differences we (MMMAB) may have with Matt regarding Mendocino County's unconstitutional nuisance ordinance that governs collectives and cooperatives, those will not stand in the way of our support for Cohen and the rights of Northstone's patients.
They are members of a registered patient cooperative association and operate under CA AG Guidelines (2008), the most reasonable interpretation to date of Senate Bill 420's famous purpose –“to enhance access to medical marijuana through collective cooperative cultivation projects".
But those guidelines, created by Jerry Brown, are in imminent jeopardy.
As of November, Brown will no longer be Attorney General (since he's running for Governor). Law enforcement supported AG candidate Steve Cooley is running against SF DA Kamala Harris on a platform to repeal the existing Attorney General Guidelines that protect collectives and cooperatives, and thus "closed-loop" sales.
It appears that Sonoma County, like Mendo County, has a coordinated policy to deny the legitimacy of cannabis collectives and co-ops, including a defense at trial.
A recent Mendocino County case, People v Scoville, is the best evidence of DA Meredith Lintott's scheme to roll back Senate Bill 420's purpose "to enhance access" by challenging qualified patients' right to a collective defense at trial.
Two local Superior Court judges reviewed and rejected the prosecutor's motion to deny a defense to Scoville's collective. However, the DA's office has appealed the local court ruling in an effort to turn back the clock by overturning patients' right to associate collectively and cooperatively under Senate Bill 420's existing guidelines.
This is consistent with federal law, not state law. We feel confident states' rights will prevail in the end.
Mendocino Medical Marijuana Advisory Board