Pubdate: Sun, 10 Feb 2008
Source: Daily Pilot (Costa Mesa, CA)
Copyright: 2008 Daily Pilot
Author: Chris Caesar
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal)


Costa Mesa Man Calls Police's Home Entry to Confiscate His Medicinal 
Marijuana Nothing but 'Armed Robbery.'

A Costa Mesa man has filed a claim for $5 million with the city of 
Costa Mesa, alleging the city's police department unlawfully arrested 
him, raided his home and confiscated his medicinal marijuana.

Gregory J. Barnett, 53, filed a claim alleging "false arrest, willful 
infliction of emotional distress, perjury, making false statements to 
obtain a search warrant, destruction of property, loss of earnings, 
theft of property and defamation" stemming from the Aug. 10 search of his home.

He also claims several ounces of marijuana seized by police were 
neither listed on his property receipt nor returned to him, along 
with 15 Temazepam pills for Barnett's insomnia that he said went 
missing from Barnett's home after the raid.

"This is nothing but armed robbery," Barnett said. "Completely unjustifiable."

A claim is a precursor to a lawsuit. If the city rejects the claim, 
Barnett could then sue.

City Atty. Kimberly Hall Barlow said the case was "without merit," 
but declined any further comment.

Barnett is prescribed marijuana to ease pain and nausea associated 
with his chemotherapy treatment for necrotizing fasciitis, a 
debilitating skin disease he contracted from a spider bite.

California's 1996 "Compassionate Use Act" exempts patients or 
caregivers who cultivate or use marijuana for medicinal purposes from 
laws that prohibit its use, though any use of marijuana has remained 
prohibited by federal law since the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act.

The state does not have to enforce federal law, but it can, Whittier 
Law professor David Treiman said. Charges against Barnett for the 
cultivation and possession of marijuana have not yet been pursued by 
the county.

"State law doesn't cancel out federal law -- the federal law is the 
law in California," he said. "The question is: Are local officials 
going to enforce it? To my knowledge, that's an open issue."

Medicinal marijuana recipients can now receive identification cards 
from Orange County that provides official documentation of their 
legal status, though the program began after the August raid on 
Barnett's home, said Donna Fleming, Orange County Public Health 
Operations chief.

Barnett possesses a "physician's statement," which is tantamount to 
the card, she said.

Costa Mesa Sgt. Bryan Glass said there have been cases when patients 
take advantage of the law, cultivating marijuana for themselves and 
selling it on the side.

"Occasionally, people have a prescription and grow their own, and 
grow over what is permitted [by the law]," he said. No evidence to 
this effect, such as baggies, scales or records of sales was taken 
into custody by police, according to the police report.

Barnett used his physician's statement from Dr. Michael Gitter to 
dispel police concerns in 2001, when they noticed his backyard 
marijuana plants during an unrelated vandalism call.

That, Barnett said, makes the case all the more egregious.

"I think they should all be fired," Barnett said. "This incident 
should chill everyone to the bone." 
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