Pubdate: Tue, 03 Jan 2012
Source: Press Democrat, The (Santa Rosa, CA)
Copyright: 2012 The Press Democrat
Author: Glenda Anderson, The Press Democrat


Chris Diaz, a Mendocino man whose arrest for pot possession in Texas
has rallied the medical marijuana community, is headed back to the
Lone Star state.

An extradition order from Texas has been signed by California state
officials and Texas officials are making plans to retrieve Diaz soon,
rendering moot his request for bail at a Tuesday hearing.

His family and supporters had lobbied locally for his release but
prosecutors said that was not an option.

California officials by law cannot refuse to comply with extradition
warrants from other states, which are controlled by the Uniform
Extradition Act, said Mendocino County Assistant District Attorney
Paul Sequeira.

"He needs to come back here and face the music," said Michael Murray,
the district attorney in Brown County Texas, where Diaz was arrested
in 2010 on suspicion of possessing marijuana and hashish for

Diaz, 22, fled Texas while on bail. He's now additionally charged with
jumping bail. The charges carry a potential sentence of five years of
probation to life in prison, Murray said.

Diaz, his family and supporters say he should not be prosecuted
because the marijuana and hashish were in small quantities and were
recommended by a doctor to help treat his asthma. Supporters say the
case is a prime example of the vagaries of marijuana laws and how they
negatively impact medicinal users, .

Diaz and his family also contend cannabis was created by God for man's
use. His mother and step-father are ministers in the Cannabis
Sacrament Ministry.

In Mendocino County, the quarter-ounce of pot and half-ounce of
concentrated cannabis Diaz is accused of possessing isn't considered
much, but in some parts of Texas, it's a big deal, especially if it's
going to be distributed.

"There's not much tolerance for anybody distributing drugs for any
reason," Murray said.

The amount of marijuana would have warranted only a misdemeanor charge
but the concentrated cannabis and the allegation of intending to
distribute the drugs are felonies, Murray said.

He said there is evidence that Diaz planned to distribute the drugs
but he would not divulge details.

Murray also doesn't give much credence to Diaz' claim he needs pot to
treat his asthma.

Diaz didn't show any signs of asthma in the 80 days he was jailed in
Brown County and he didn't act like like someone with asthma and was
seen smoking cigarettes. Murray said.

Murray said Diaz' case was "run of the mill" until his supporters
drummed up media attention in Texas with their "antics," which
included yelling out in court and making statements consistent with
the so-called "sovereign citizens" movement whose members don't
believe they should be subject to federal, state or local laws.

"It's just a total bunch of bizarre antics," Murray said.
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