Pubdate: Tue, 21 Nov 2000
Source: Redding Record Searchlight (CA)
Copyright: 2000 Redding Record Searchlight - E.W. Scripps
Contact:  PO Box 492397, Redding, CA 96049-2397
Author: Kimberly Bolander,  Record Searchlight


A medical marijuana patient - who Redding police once returned marijuana to 
- - has since been charged in one of the first alleged violations of Shasta 
County's pot growing guidelines.

Dan Craig, 51, of Redding is a Vietnam veteran who said he uses the drug to 
treat post-traumatic stress.

On Oct. 7, Shasta County Marijuana Eradication Team members found 11 
marijuana plants growing in his back yard - nine more than the two outdoor 
plants allowed under Shasta County's guidelines, enacted Feb. 28 by the 
district attorney's office and other Shasta County law enforcement agencies.

Craig's expired doctor's approval, knowledge of the guidelines, possession 
of hashish and his excess of plants led the district attorney's office to 
file charges, officials said.

But medical marijuana advocates claim Craig and other known pot patients 
are simply easy, marked targets for law enforcement agents.

Craig said he feels like drug agents have "a vendetta out" for him, and 
he's angry about it.

"You don't feel real good, you feel like a damn criminal. You feel 
violated," he said.

Redding police learned of Craig's marijuana use Sept. 20, after pulling him 
over for having his high beams on and finding about half an ounce and 
Craig's cannabis club card. He was using marijuana with a doctor's 
recommendation, which is legal under the Compassionate Use Act, approved by 
voters in 1996.

When no charges were filed against Craig, he applauded the Redding Police 
Department, whose officers came to his house to return the confiscated pot.

When they arrived again at his door in October, the surprise visit wasn't 
so welcome.

"I thought I was all within my legal rights. I still do," he said.

According to a Shasta County Marijuana Eradication Team report, a detective 
had spotted camouflage netting in Craig's back yard. Officers took a closer 
look and saw the small marijuana crop hidden behind it, the report reads.

Craig said finding his house again was no happenstance.

"I feel all the patients are being targeted," he said.

Redding Police Chief Bob Blankenship said that's the drug talking.

"That sounds like they've been smoking too much of that stuff. That sounds 
like a bit of paranoia, and that's an effect of that drug," Blankenship said.

The chief said Redding police only handle small drug amounts, leaving the 
larger busts to the Shasta Interagency Narcotics Task Force. Its commander, 
Ed Pecis, could not be reached for comment Monday or Friday.

Blankenship said drug-related tips are checked out regardless of who the 
growers are, not because they are patients.

"We don't have the time, and furthermore, we don't have the desire" to seek 
out medical marijuana users, he said.

"Theoretically, if somebody is a legal, righteous marijuana patient, they 
don't have anything to worry about."

County guidelines, called the Shasta County Medical Marijuana Inter-Agency 
Protocol, allow patients two outdoor plants, or six indoor plants, or 1.33 
pounds of processed marijuana. They must have a doctor's oral or written 
recommendation for the drug.

Craig had a written note approving his marijuana treatment, but it had 
expired five days earlier. His doctor's recommendation is now up to date, 
he said.

Kim Levin is the founder of the Shasta County Patient's Alliance, a group 
that fights for medical marijuana users rights. She thinks Craig is one of 
the first to be prosecuted under the local guidelines.

"I don't think it's a fluke at all. I think that they knew about him from 
his early notoriety," she said. "Patients are under harassment right now in 
Shasta County. They're easy targets, and they can't afford to fight back. 
And it's very sad."

Monday, Craig appeared in Shasta County Superior Court for the first time 
with his attorney, Thomas Burger - who's facing criminal charges of his 
own, for methamphetamine possession.
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