Pubdate: Sun, 21 May 2000
Source: Chico Enterprise-Record (CA)
Copyright: 2000 The Media News Group
Contact:  P.O. Box 9, Chico, CA 95927
Fax: (530) 342-3617
Author: Terry Vau Dell - Staff Writer
Bookmark: additional articles on medicinal cannabis are available at


The son of a Republican central California farmer, Joseph "Mike" Rogers 
would seem an unlikely catalyst in the local medical marijuana scene.

The Cohasset father of four contends that he and a Paradise couple were 
doing nothing wrong when they tried to furnish "clones" of marijuana plants 
to others who had doctors' recommendations to use the illegal drug for 
medicinal purposes.

A judge this week upheld the seizure of a handful of pot plants from 
Rogers' home last summer, but excluded all the evidence, including an 
estimated 176 miniature marijuana plants taken from the Paradise mobile 
home of Roger Chambers, 47, and Susan Spengler, 56. The judge ruled that 
sheriff's deputies did not have "probable cause" to bust the ridge pair on 
charges of pot cultivation and possession for sale.

The three said they were attempting to provide clones or clippings from pot 
plants to others holding medical marijuana recommendations so they could 
grow their own pot. The government insists they were selling the drug.

Rogers, who sports collar-length thinning brown hair and round glasses, 
says he takes marijuana to ease the pain from a broken neck he suffered in 
a Yuba College wrestling match more than two decades ago.

A vocal critic of what he contends has been a "failed war on drugs," 
Rogers, recently began publishing a newsletter called the "Green Crescent."

In the first issue, Rogers lifts quotes liberally from former U.S. Attorney 
General Ramsey Clark (who advocates legalizing pot) to the ACLU, to which 
he admits to being a "proud member" and takes pot shots at federal drug 
policy and Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey.

Rogers is also one of the founders of Butte Alliance for Medical Marijuana 
(BAMM), which has held four meetings to date at a Chico cafe to "facilitate 
dialogue, cooperation and empowerment in the entire cannabis movement."

He says he not only promotes use of marijuana for the sick but also pushes 
industrial hemp as "good medicine for a polluted, sick and dying planet." 
Hemp is used to make everything from lubricants to clothing, rope and paper.

Aside from his legal crusade, Rogers, a 1988 cum laude graduate at Chico 
State University majoring in agribusiness, has raised four sons, ranging in 
ages from 10 to 20.

Born in the rich farmlands of Coalinga, he traces his political leanings to 
a great aunt and books in the 1960s such as the environmental classic, 
"Silent Spring" by Rachel Carson.

When sheriff's deputies busted David Kasakove in Chico about three years 
ago - in effect shutting down the area's only recognized medical-marijuana 
conduit - he, Spengler and Chambers said they decided to step in and fill 
the void.

Rogers, who rents a small two-bedroom house on about three acres in 
Cohasset, said " I love gardening, be it tomatoes, mint, parsley or marijuana."

At the time he was arrested, he says he was growing five pot plants 
outdoors and seven indoor from which he was trying to create roots from 
clippings using artificial light.

Chambers and Spengler, meanwhile, were admittedly cultivating the bulk of 
the pot clones at their mobile home in Paradise.

"We knowingly risked arrest to make a political statement," Rogers said.

"The law allows people (in California) to use marijuana with a doctor's 
recommendation, but it provides nowhere for them to obtain it lawfully," 
Spengler said.

"Someone afflicted with a serious medical condition should not have to go 
down to the streets of Chico to score a bag of dope at prohibition prices," 
Rogers said.

The three knew they were taking a calculated risk by publishing a brochure 
offering their marijuana clones for sale, though they called them 
"donations" and swear they lost money on the deal.

The flier offered to sell several "super stony" varieties of cloned pot 
plants for $10 and up, including a home grown strain called "Concowie 
Wowie," which the flier described as "local cuisine at its best."

Local authorities charged that the flier did not appear to be aimed at the 
"medically needy."

But Rogers says the trio were just trying to "have a little fun" and gain 
some exposure for their cause.

Rogers has had a doctor's recommendation to smoke pot since December 1997 
but was not active in trying to get the law passed the previous year. He 
said "Prop. 215 is meaningless unless ill people have access to their 
medicine (marijuana)."

It was while discussing the problem with other local medical- marijuana 
users that the idea for the Cohasset Community Co-op was born last spring.

The three accused growers insist they are fulfilling the role of "care 
giver" under the medical-marijuana law - a position that has them at odds 
with police.

A week before the busts, Rogers said he got a call from Dr. Steven 
Bannister, one of two Northern California physicians who currently fill the 
bulk of medical marijuana prescriptions in this area, saying he was going 
to begin referring some of his patients to the Butte County co-op.

But the three alleged pot growers were arrested before they could deliver 
any of the marijuana clones, Rogers said.

Barring an appeal by the DA's office, with the evidence against them tossed 
out of court, Spengler and Chambers probably won't be prosecuted, likely 
leaving the 43-year-old Rogers to face trial alone.

Whatever happens, Spengler said last week that the trio has decided to 
continue with the local marijuana co-op.

Only this time, their not going to grow pot for those with medical 
marijuana recommendations, but " act as facilitators" by referring them to 
"sympathetic" doctors, several of which are practicing in Butte County, she 

Although Rogers says he's a member of the Cohasset Community Association 
board of directors and is a member of several other local organizations 
including the Butte Environmental Council, he says is "normally shy."

"But I was sort of nominated, like John Lennon said, to push the barriers 
and plant the seed," Rogers said.

Since his arrest, Rogers has become one of the most visible faces in the 
local medical marijuana movement, through his newsletter and involvement in 
the Butte Alliance for Medical-Marijuana.

BAMM was a major player in Chico's recent participation in the so-called 
Global Millennium Marijuana March. The event was held on the same day in 
over 90 cities across the world in support of the reform of cannabis laws.

In Chico, an estimated 200 people marched through the downtown chanting 
such slogans as "free Mary Jane" and "honk if you get high."

"People were honking like crazy," said Rogers, one of several speakers that 

"We want to raise the consciousness and awareness about the benefits of 
cannabis and expose the lies and hypocrisy of this phony drug war," he 
said. "People with physical disabilities are being denied medicine and also 
being thrown in jail over this issue. It makes me wonder how some drug 
kingpins operate with impunity."

Rogers said the war on drugs benefits pharmaceutical companies.

"It can't be called a war on drugs because there's this massive hypocrisy 
with the public constantly being barraged about the benefits of industrial 
pharmaceuticals," the Cohasset man said. "Why concentrate a national drug 
policy on one of the safest herbs known to mankind? The whole thing is 
profit. They see cannabis as a threat to corporate profits.

"As I see it, the people have risen up in support of medical marijuana but 
our legal system has been out of sync with the needs of the people. This 
little plant is symbolic of our struggle. It's a little plant that can be 
grown in your backyard for pennies and you have the whole weight of 
government coming down on you." 
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