Pubdate: Wed, 4 Jul 2001
Source: Redding Record Searchlight (CA)
Copyright: 2001 Redding Record Searchlight - E.W. Scripps
Author: Maline Hazle
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


Man Suspected Of Cultivating Pot Plants Vows He'll Fight Back

Disabled trucker and medical marijuana user James Hall is promising a fight 
against Redding police, who confiscated his crop, food stamps and pictures 
and arrested him Sunday after searching his house without a warrant.

"They've got themselves a battle," Hall said Tuesday, less than 24 hours 
after a call from his attorney, Eric Berg of Redding, toShasta County 
Assistant District Attorney Greg Gaul resulted in his release from jail 
without bail.

Hall had been jailed in lieu of $10,000 bail since his arrest on suspicion 
of cultivating marijuana.

Police said that they had arrested Hall, 40, after a probation search of 
the Tidmore Lane home where he lives with his mother yielded 20 potted 
marijuana plants in his back yard.

Though police said Hall was arrested on suspicion of a probation violation 
and a marijuana cultivation allegation, a Shasta County Jail spokesman said 
Hall was booked only on suspicion of the cultivation charge.

Hall and his mother, Lydia, 63, were convicted of conspiracy to cultivate 
marijuana in February 2000, but their sentences were stayed and their 
probation was inactivated pending an appeal of that conviction.

The same jury acquitted the two of marijuana cultivation and James Hall 
also was acquitted of possession of marijuana for sale. Their defense was 
based on Proposition 215, the 1996 law that allows patients with doctors' 
recommendations to grow and use marijuana.

Hall suffered severe back injuries in a 1993 on-the-job accident and his 
mother used marijuana for glaucoma symptoms. Both had doctors' 
recommendations for pot.

Both James and Lydia Hall said they repeatedly told police Sunday night 
that they are not on probation.

"I told them to get out of my house," Lydia Hall said Monday. "We did not 
give permission to search."

Lydia Hall said "a bunch" of police officers searched the house and that 
five or six patrol cars were parked outside.

"It got kind of wild," she said. "They walked in my room; I was in my 
nightshirt. I said, 'Is this really necessary, especially since I'm not on 
probation.' and he (an officer) said, 'Maybe you don't want to be, but you 
are.' "
She said officers threatened to handcuff her as they later did her son.

James Hall said he answered the door after 9 p.m. Sunday and faced several 
police officers.

The officers told him that a neighbor had reported pot plants at the house 
and asked if he were James Hall.

"I said, 'Yes, sir, I am, and as you know, I have a prescription' " for 
medical marijuana use, James Hall said.

Hall said the officers asked to see his doctor's written recommendation and 
he asked them to wait at the door while he went to get it.

"By the time I got back to the living room the house was full of cops," he 
said. "They had no warrant. They said it was a probation search."

James Hall said he continued to argue that he is not on probation while 
officers searched. He said they removed the 20 plants outside and also took 
food stamps and some "very personal pictures" of a girlfriend from his room.

He also contends that the officers took the personal pictures door to door, 
asking his neighbors if they recognized the woman in the pictures.

Redding police did not return a call seeking comment Tuesday, but Assistant 
District Attorney Gaul said police reports of the incident indicate that 
Hall consented to the search, which would have made it legal.

Meanwhile, the Shasta Patients' Alliance released a statement saying that 
the search was "an example of the continued medical marijuana patient 
harassment that is rampant in Shasta County."

The alliance was formed to advocate medical marijuana users' rights under 
Proposition 215.

A class action suit filed by several alliance members last year names 
Shasta County District Attorney McGregor Scott, Sheriff Jim Pope and some 
of his deputies. The suit contends that Scott, Pope and the others are 
breaking the law and wasting taxpayer money when they arrest and prosecute 
medical pot users.

Hall said his arrest was only his most recent contact with police, who came 
to his home and searched, with his permission, about three months ago after 
an anonymous tipster reportedly told police he was selling marijuana.

"I'm the only one not on that suit," James Hall said. "I figured I don't 
need the grief -- let it slide.

"Now I'm not going to.

"I'm a nobody. I'm not out there selling drugs. I don't have parties. I 
keep my stuff in my bedroom. . . . It's medicine and I keep it put away.

"My big question is, who's next." he asked. "I have children and it upsets 
them very much to have them come in like the Gestapo."

Gaul said the case will be reviewed "just like any other case" and he hopes 
to decide by Friday whether Hall will be prosecuted.

Reporter Maline Hazle can be reached at 225-8266 or at Wednesday, July 4, 2001 
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