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CA: Medical Marijuana Patients Targeted

July 18, 2010

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Many people are reluctant to report thefts due to conflicting laws
ARGUS-COURIER / 17 July 2010 / Dan Johnson

Some medical marijuana patients are feeling anxious after recent incidents in which other patients have been targeted by thieves.

“I think some are cautious, because they’re aware of potential problems. I wouldn’t call it an environment of fear, but there’s some degree of risk involved for them,” said Lt. Mike Cook of the Petaluma Police Department.

One medical marijuana victim, a resident in the area of Olive and I streets, had marijuana stolen from him by a man armed with a handgun on May 10. The incident prompted a lock-down of nearly McNear Elementary School as about a dozen police cars raced to the scene, and officers pointed rifles at the home.

The suspect — described as a white man in his 20s, about 5 feet 10 inches tall and with a thin build — already had fled, though.

“And we never were able to find him,” Cook said.

In another incident, on Sept. 22, 2009, a man — later identified as John Ross Moore II — was arrested for allegedly breaking into the home of a 23-year-old medical marijuana patient he knows on Berrydale Drive, and then threatening him. Moore reportedly demanded the victim’s marijuana, but was refused and then locked out of the home.

Moore then broke open the door, and the victim told him where to find the marijuana. The suspect escaped with three ounces of drying marijuana plants, but subsequently was spotted by police and arrested.

Also, on June 29, 2007, two Petaluma residents stole three pounds of marijuana and electronics equipment from the Crinella Drive home of a medical marijuana patient. After interviewing several suspects, police arrested the two men, who later confessed to the crime.

Marijuana thefts generally have risen in Petaluma as cultivation and usage of the drug have become more widespread, but it’s difficult to determine the number of thefts that are occurring, says a lieutenant with the Petaluma Police Department.

“California has passed laws allowing marijuana use for medical purposes, but marijuana is still illegal by federal law, so I think that some people are cautious about reporting thefts,” Cook said.

Marijuana-related reports taken by the police department increased from 224 in 2008 to 257 in 2009, but with 2010 more than half over, have slipped to 107, from Jan. 1 through this past Sunday. Marijuana-related arrests increased from 181 in 2008 to 230 in 2009, and have fallen to 77 so far in 2010. No totals are available specifically for the marijuana-related theft incidents and theft arrests that have taken place.

Some of these incidents and arrests involve situations in which marijuana was taken from medical marijuana patients, who are allowed by local laws to grow and use it.

Besides sometimes being the targets of thieves, medical-marijuana patients also have concerns about violating regulations, including the federal ban on marijuana use for medicinal and recreational purposes.

Proposition 215, passed by California voters in 1996, allows patients with a valid doctor’s recommendation and patients’ designated caregivers to possess and cultivate marijuana for personal medical use. In 2003, state lawmakers altered the proposition so that medical marijuana patients are allowed a minimum of six mature or 12 immature plants, as well as up to eight ounces in processed cannabis buds and leaves.

Counties and cities were permitted to set guidelines that are greater, but not less, than these standards, and Sonoma County authorized patients and caregivers to have 30 marijuana plants within a 100-square-foot canopy and three pounds of marijuana.

Then, on Jan. 21, the California Supreme Court ruled that the Legislature violated the California Constitution by setting limits, saying that any modification of a voter-approved ballot measure must be made by voters themselves.

Meanwhile, supporters of legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes have gathered signatures to put Proposition 19, The Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010, on the Nov. 4 ballot. This measure would allow people who are at least 21 years old to possess, cultivate and transport marijuana for personal use, as well as permit local governments to regulate and tax commercial production and sale of marijuana.

 

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. July 20, 2010 2:58 pm

    Wow! What bad kharma are these thieves up too; targeting patients who really need the medicine? How heartless can people be? It’s like they are going around stealing candy and or bottles from babies? I’m sure they are more capable of getting a real job and purchasing their own through the black market as it is now. Wish the gov’t would smarten up and realize why cannabis was made illegal in the first place; fear, power, greed, & racism.

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