Pubdate: Sat, 22 Sep 2012
Source: Record Searchlight (Redding, CA)
Copyright: 2012 Record Searchlight


The Trinity County Sheriff's Office conducted a sweep across the 
northern part of the county last week, targeting six sites of medical 
marijuana grows that, investigators said, were illegal commercial 
grows hiding behind Proposition 215.

"There were (Prop.) 215 recommendations at all the grows," said Chris 
Compton, a detective with the Sheriff's Office. "In all these places, 
they were growing in excess. That's based on our opinion."

The six searches, conducted Wednesday and Thursday, led to 14 arrests 
related to cultivating and preparing marijuana for sale, he said. He 
said detectives found $180,000, most of which was located during one 
search, 406 marijuana plants, more than 150 pounds of processed 
marijuana and a hash lab.

The Drug Enforcement Administration and the North State Marijuana 
Investigation Team also assisted, he said.

One of the sites had marijuana and peyote accessible to three 
children under the age of 12, he said. That led to child endangerment 
counts, he said.

Four firearms, including two rifles, a pistol and a shotgun, were 
found during the searches, Compton said.

He declined to identify the suspects arrested or the specific 
locations, saying it was an ongoing investigation. He acknowledged 
that the grows did not take place on U.S. Forest Service lands, and 
they consisted of both indoor and outdoor gardens.

He said deputies determined that the plants and processed marijuana 
seized far exceeded the amount detectives deemed for personal use for 
the 14 individuals, though he acknowledged some of them said they 
were part of a cooperative.

He said none of the individuals had successfully established a co-op.

"There's no set limit," Compton said. But, he said investigators 
could determine, in part using the physician's recommendation, if a 
grower was cultivating a reasonable amount of marijuana in the cases 
even with a recommendation.

The Compassionate Use Act decriminalized marijuana use for those with 
ailments and a doctor's recommendation in 1996. An additional law, in 
2004, established a floor for the acceptable amount for personal use, 
according to the Office of the Attorney General. Currently, courts 
have found that there is no legal maximum amount for possession.

If someone is claiming a Proposition 215 protection with a locally 
issued recommendation, law enforcement officials "should use their 
sound professional judgment to assess the validity of the person's 
claim," according to the Attorney General. Officers can seize the 
marijuana if they have a reasonable suspicion about the operation, 
such as the presence of guns, other illicit drugs or large amounts of cash.

However, if the recommendation is valid, all marijuana must be returned.
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