Pubdate: Mon, 12 Jul 2010
Source: Abilene Reporter-News (TX)
Copyright: 2010 Abilene Reporter-News
Author: Celinda Emison


A 20-year-old man is in custody in the Brown County Jail after he was
arrested in June and charged with possession of what his supporters
call medical marijuana.

Chris Diaz, 20, was traveling through Brownwood on June 27 on his way
to Austin and was pulled over by the Department of Public Safety. A
trooper reportedly searched his vehicle and discovered under 2 ounces
of marijuana and some hashish (a concentrated form of marijuana) in
the vehicle.

Brown County Sheriff Bobby Grubbs maintains that pot in any form is
illegal in Texas.

"We have a zero tolerance for any type of drugs in Brown County,"
Grubbs said. "The law says you 'may' issue a citation for possession
of small amounts, but we go ahead and make arrests."

Diaz was arrested and charged with manufacture and delivery of a
controlled substance greater than 4 grams under 200 grams and
possession of marijuana under 2 ounces. He remains in custody on bonds
totaling $40,000.

Steve Haag, a spokesman for the Texas Coalition for Compassionate
Care, a nonprofit organization that supports legislation for the
legalization of medical marijuana in Texas, said both items in Diaz's
possession were bona fide prescriptions for asthma issued to him in

"The containers were labeled with the California state seal," Haag

Grubbs said that the evidence is in the hands of the DPS and that he
has not seen it.

Friends of Diaz are in Brownwood attempting to secure his release but
have been unsuccessful.

The Rev. Sean Dunn of the Austin-based THC Ministry maintains that
Diaz's civil rights have been violated because he has not been allowed
to see visitors, has had no access to his medication and no access to
nutrition because he is on a special organic diet.

"They are breaking the law by holding him," Dunn said.

Members of the THC Ministry, according to its website, believe that
using marijuana as a sacrament as part of their religion and that it
is a fundamental right "provided by God and the First Amendment of the
U.S. Constitution."

Grubbs said he escorted Dunn out of the sheriff's office about a week
ago after he failed to produce identification when requesting to visit
Diaz in jail. Dunn was attempting to bring in some organic apples for
Diaz to eat.

"We don't take them food into the jail because of the possibility of
illegal contraband," Grubbs said. "Nobody is being mistreated here."

Grubbs will have to sign the paperwork approving Diaz's release.

"I have to approve bonds that large," Grubbs said.
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