Law enforcement officers made unannounced visits to the homes of medical marijuana patients in a California town last month, knocking on their doors and saying they were there at the direction of the sheriff. Dunsmuir residents said sheriff’s deputies, sometimes accompanied by a detective, showed up without warrants, but wearing full camouflage.
Now Siskiyou County Sheriff Jon Lopey claims he plans to meet with detectives who conducted the recent “compliance checks” to ensure they’re relaying correct information to the public. Did you notice something, there? He didn’t say he would make them stop conducting “compliance checks.” He only promised he’d make sure they’re relaying correct information.
Sheriff Lopey claimed his office will abide by doctor recommendations for medical marijuana amounts, and that any misinformation put out by his deputies and detectives “will be corrected.” What are they gonna do, show up and want to see your plants again and give you a new set of “facts”?
Lopey claimed in an interview earlier this week that cooperating with deputies doing these “compliance checks” is completely voluntary.
None of the patients interviewed were shown warrants, nor were they told their cooperation was voluntary.
Patients said they were told that if they donate marijuana to the local collective, they will be prosecuted for narcotics violations.
Dunsmuir passed a marijuana cultivation ordinance that went into effect last August which severely restricts cannabis cultivation within city limits.
Sarah Pride, a patient who has been a vocal advocate for medical marijuana — and who, coincidentally or not, had recently appeared before the Dunsmuir City Council to protest the restrictive growing ordinance — on March 1 received a “compliance check” at the home she shares with partner Prince Small. Pride and Small are both medical marijuana patients with doctor’s recommendations.
|Bob Pennell/Ashland Daily Tidings
|Leslie Wilde, owner, Green Collar Compassionate Collective: “People are absolutely afraid to come forward and complain. They fear retaliation by the police”
When Pride answered her door, she said a Detective Jones was at the door, wearing camouflage.
“He said he wanted to see our plants,” Pride said. “I told him we didn’t have any. He asked to see my script and I got it.
“Jones was joined by Deputies Gilley and Mero,” Pride said. “They photographed my recommendation. They asked to come in the house and I told them no.
“Gilley told me that I can only have six plants,” Pride said. “I told him that wasn’t true. The amount of marijuana is what the doctor recommends.
“Gilley told me he was the guy who goes after the cartels,” Pride said. “I informed him I was not a cartel.”
The officers told Pride they had been asked by Sheriff Lopey to make compliance checks from a list of “known marijuana users.”
“I told then I was getting sick of this harassment,” Pride sasid. “Detective Jones told me it wasn’t harassment and said that the only way they could know if people were in compliance is if they did checks.”
“I was told that if I donated to the collective I would be arrested for narcotics sales,” Pride said.
|Joe Elford, Americans for Safe Access: “Being a medical marijuana patient is not a basis to be harassed by the police”
”They are trying to enforce a law they are not familiar with,” Pride said. “They are telling us things that are not true like the number of plants we can have and we shouldn’t use it for carpal tunnel.”
According to Pride, other patients who have had similar experiences are “afraid of retaliation if they speak out.”
Leslie Wilde, owner of the medical marijuana dispensary Green Collar Compassionate Collective in Dunsmuir said she also got a “compliance check” visit from deputies on February 29. Wilde said she believes the compliance checks are unconstitutional.
“People are absolutely afraid to come forward and complain,” Wilde said. “They fear retaliation by the police.
“It is intimidating when three police officers are on your doorstep,” Wilde said. “There is a shaming effect. They have to explain to their neighbors why police officers are at their home.
“The deputies seem to be on fishing expeditions,” Wilde said. “They confuse people with misinformation such as numbers of plants they can have, donating to the collective and you can only use it for a particular ailment.”
Siskiyou County Public Defender Lael Kayfetz is concerned that the officers were expressing incorrect interpretations of California’s medicinal cannabis laws.
“I’m a little alarmed that the detectives are so uninformed or untrained on the medical marijuana laws,” Kayfetz said. “I hope Sheriff Lopey will rectify the misinformation his officers are putting out.”
Joe Elford of Americans for Safe Access (ASA), a national patient advocacy organization, said the actions by the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Department are unwarranted harassment.
“Being a medical marijuana patient is not a basis to be harassed by the police,” Elford said. “We are extremely disappointed that the Siskiyou Sheriff’s office is using private medical records to harass qualified medical marijuana patients.
“We are considering all legal options for medical marijuana patients who have been subject to this abuse by the Siskiyou Sheriff’s Department,” Elford said.