Pubdate:  Wednesday, September 24, 1997
Source:   The San Francisco Chronicle
Contact:      A16

Pot Arrest of S.F. AIDS Patient Angers Activists
Police accused of violating spirit of medicinal law

Henry K. Lee, Chronicle Staff Writer


Friends of a San Francisco AIDS patient arrested for allegedly
cultivating marijuana accused police yesterday of violating the
spirit of Proposition 215 because the man grows pot for medical

Victor ``Tom'' Evans, 36, was taken into custody Monday night
during a raid of his home near Mount Davidson. San Francisco
narcotics officers found more than 50 marijuana plants, various
scales and lamps and nearly $16,000 in cash, police said.

Evans, a volunteer at the Flower Therapy buyers' club, was released
from County Jail on his own recognizance yesterday but may face
felony charges of cultivating and possessing marijuana for sale.

``I don't think I'm a criminal or a lawbreaker,'' Evans said after
getting out of jail. ``I just grow marijuana for people who are
really sick.''

Evans said he uses marijuana to maintain his weight and combat
nausea from drugs he takes to fight the AIDS virus.

His arrest angered medical marijuana activists who say overzealous
police thwarted the intent of Proposition 215, the initiative
approved by California voters last year allowing people to grow
marijuana for medical purposes.

``There seems to be a breakdown in law and order here,'' said
Dennis Peron, founder of the Cannabis Cultivators Club in San
Francisco. ``We have changed the law, and all of a sudden the
police are on their own deciding they're not going to enforce our

But in a statement released yesterday, San Francisco police said,
``The marijuana items seized far exceeded the spirit of the
medicinal marijuana law.''

Police received a tip from a retired federal judge who believed
Evans' home was a professional drugselling operation, and
Assistant District Attorney Vernon Griggs then authorized a search

``Prior to the raid we had no way of knowing as to whether this
individual had AIDS or had any interaction with one of the
cultivator clubs,'' said John Shanley, spokesman for District
Attorney Terence Hallinan.

Prosecutors could decide by today whether Evans will be charged.

``There's a lot of gray area in Proposition 215 that are unfolding
as we speak,'' Shanley said. ``It says you can possess marijuana
for medicinal purposes, but it doesn't say how much you can

Evans estimated that he had 30 marijuana plants, all of which which
were destroyed by police.

Evans told police and The Chronicle that the $15,940 seized by
police came from proceeds from medicalmarijuana sales over the
past two weeks to members of Flower Therapy, the yearold buyers'
club in the Mission District that was raided by federal drug agents
in April. No charges have been filed in that case.

Gary Johnson, 40, of San Francisco, said his friend never should
have been arrested.

``I think the SFPD has better things to do then chase AIDS patients
who are growing medical marijuana,'' Johnson said.

``They should be out chasing the heroin dealers and suppliers if
they had that much manpower to waste,'' he added, citing the
weekend death of novelist Danielle Steel's son from an apparent
heroin overdose.

(c) The Chronicle Publishing Company