|Photo: Ty Barbour/ChicoER|
|Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey: vindictive prosecution?|
Butte County, California’s restrictive dispensary ordinance was just blocked by petition — and now, in what reeks of vindictive prosecution, the district attorney is filing the first charges on dispensaries raided a year ago.
Butte County D.A. Mike Ramsey announced on Wednesday that three Forest Ranch residents have been arrested on three felony counts of marijuana sales and one count of possession of marijuana for sale, reports ChicoER.
Jason Allen Anderson, 35; Michael Franklin Anderson, 46; and Kaitlin Christine Sanchez, 23, operated the Mountainside Patient Collective at 3330 Highway 32 west of Chico.
The Anderson brothers are also charged with marijuana cultivation and possession for sale, relating to a grow operation found on their property in Forest Ranch.
Ramsey said charges will follow involving the other 17 medical marijuana dispensaries raided on June 30, 2010, after undercover agents made multiple purchases that spring and summer.
|Three operators of the Mountainside Patients Collective in Butte County, California are being targeted by D.A. Mike Ramsey, who is butt-hurt because the county’s restrictive cultivation ordinance was just blocked by a petition|
”If Mike Ramsey is allowed to carry on this witch hunt, it could be bad news for patients and providers everywhere,” one Northern California source in a position to know told Toke of the Town Thursday afternoon. “This is a clear case of vindictive prosecution from a bitter and defeated Mike Ramsey. It is sad that a person of authority would use their office as a tool for revenge and spite.”
In what sounds distinctly like a lame excuse, the D.A.’s office is claiming that state tax officials had to “scan and analyze” thousands of documents seized in the raids a year ago before handing them to investigators. Can you believe they had a whole year to come up with an excuse, and still couldn’t do any better than that?
Meanwhile, prosecutors are claiming that Jason and Michael Anderson and Kaitlin Sanchez were using the store as a front to sell marijuana for profit, reports local ABC affiliate KRCR TV.
Carrying the character assassination to the next level, Deputy D.A. Helen Harberts claims the collective was “targeting young people.”
“Over 70 percent of the recommendations that we recovered were for persons that were under 30,” Harberts said, “And 31 percent were under 21. That, I don’t think, was the target population voters anticipated when they passed Prop 215,” she said, not bothering to mention where she acquired her medical expertise.
“I did all of the paperwork for this collective and 100 percent certain they were operating above and beyond compliance with the Attorney General’s Guidelines for medical marijuana in California,” a spokesperson for the collective told Toke of the Town Thursday afternoon. “They were a California Mutual Non-Profit Corporation opened for only four months.
“They had extensive membership agreements and always had a very small supply of medicine,” the spokesperson told me. “They were only open five months and never were in the black. In fact, the organization was delinquent on many of the collective’s bills as business was minimal in the development months. They did no advertising.”
Restrictive Ordinance Blocked By Petition
Butte County activists this week submitted 12,308 signatures on a referendum petition to suspend the county’s controversial medical marijuana ordinance, which sharply limits patients’ right to grow their own medicine.
The ordinance is now suspended for 30 days pending validation of the signatures. If, as is likely, at least 7,600 signatures are valid, the ordinance will remain suspended until it can be voted on in November.
The referendum petition was sponsored by Butte County Citizens for Compassionate Use. California NORML strongly endorses the Butte referendum effort, said director Dale Gieringer, as the ordinance makes it impossible for many patients to exercise their Prop 215 right to grow their own cannabis.
This marks the second successful petition drive against a restrictive local medical marijuana ordinance, according to Gieringer. A San Diego city ordinance sharply restricting dispensaries was suspended by the submission of 46,000 referendum signatures last month.
The Butte ordinance bans any cultivation, indoors or out, on properties of less than half an acre. It limits gardens to six mature plants on properties of .5 to 1.5 acres; requires all gardens of more than six plants to be registered with the County Department of Development Services Gardens; and forbids any cultivation within 1,000 feet of schools, churches, parks, youth-oriented or residential treatment facilities.
Cal NORML attorneys have already filed a lawsuit against a similar anti-cultivation ordinance in Tehama County, which is in the process of appeal.