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California Medical Marijuana Fight Continues

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California Medical Marijuana Fight Continues

The long-running low intensity conflict between California
medical marijuana growers and users and obdurate law enforcement
officials has seen two new courtroom skirmishes this week. In a
Los Angeles-area case, four members of the Los Angeles Cannabis
Resource Cooperative (LACRC) were arrested after Ventura County
police raided their grow operation and seized 342 marijuana

Meanwhile, in Northern California, cannabis (marijuana) patients
have taken the offensive in a wrongful arrest lawsuit in Shasta

In the Ventura bust, police arrested Lynn and Judy Osburn, Mark
Davison, and Carol Jo Papac. The four, who all say they are
medical marijuana users and are members of the LACRC, are now out
on bail.

The Osburns have been active supporters of Proposition 215, and
Lynn Osburn beat a similar growing rap in 1998. He and his wife
Judy are the authors of a book on marijuana use in major
religions, "Green Gold: The Tree of Life."

LACRC president Scott Imler told DRCNet the patch was indeed
intended for the co-op. "It was a co-op garden," he said. "The
gardens were clearly marked as property of the LACRC. The fact
is, it was our marijuana and we're going to ask for it back."

"This hurts our members," said Imler. "The vast majority of our
pot comes from two gardens. Now our 829 members see their supply

In a letter to LACRC members, Imler urged them to support their
comrades. "They need the support of the entire movement to
prevail," he wrote.

Another Ventura Country medical marijuana provider, Andrea Nagy,
planned to meet with the four to offer her support, the LA Times
reported. Nagy, the former owner of a Thousand Oaks cannabis
club, reached an agreement with Ventura County authorities in
February allowing her to provide pot to patients.

Imler told DRCNet that law enforcement responsiveness to medical
marijuana varies among jurisdictions. "In Los Angeles county,
we've had a good run," he said. "We've worked out rules with
Sheriff Lee Baca, who just happened to be the then division chief
sent to meet with us after Prop 215 passed."

Surrounding counties have not been as agreeable, Imler noted. He
seemed bemused by the Ventura bust, pointing to the agreement
Andrea Nagy had worked out with county officials.

"That garden was marked with our phone number, but the Ventura
authorities didn't call us," he said. "Still, there is precedent
in the county to work it out."

"We try to educate prosecutors and police, and we ask the courts
to take judicial notice of Prop 215," said Imler. "We don't have
any secrets; we're not doing anything wrong."

Imler said the co-op's quiet, diplomatic approach pays off.
"It's gotten to the point where judges and police are instructing
patients to come to LA and get that purple membership card," he

If the LACRC is fighting a defensive battle at the moment, in
Shasta County it is the authorities who are on defense. A
medical marijuana patient's ongoing wrongful arrest lawsuit was
amended this week to include a Shasta County prosecutor and to
become a class-action suit on behalf of all county taxpayers and
cannabis patients, the Redding (California) Record Searchlight

Richard and Kim Levin of Redding were arrested for growing in
1998. Charges against Kim were dropped, while Richard Levin, who
has a doctor's recommendation to use medical marijuana, was
acquitted in December of growing marijuana for sale.

The civil suit was filed after the acquittal and asks the court
to forbid criminal prosecutions on marijuana charges unless it
determines the suspect was not a medical marijuana user or
caretaker. The Levins argue that Shasta County officials violate
the Compassionate Use Act by spending state funds to prosecute
medical marijuana users.

The Levin's attorney, William Simpich of Oakland, told the Record
Searchlight, "We're not asking for money. We're asking for
justice from law enforcement and an end to the waste" caused by
prosecuting medical marijuana patients.

Simpich has a similar suit pending on behalf of seven pot
patients in Tehama County whose crops were confiscated and
destroyed by drug agents.

Simpich called Shasta and Tehama "the problem counties," and
suggested that police are going after medical marijuana grows as
"revenue enhancers."