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Medical-Marijuana Stand Raided By Tulare County Deputies, Marijuana Plants Seized

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Tulare County sheriff's deputies last week raided a medical-marijuana stand near Caldwell Avenue and Highway 99, removing 96 mature plants, the stand's operators said.

The marijuana would have helped at least 25 patients, said Ernie Garcia, 31, a registered medical-marijuana user and caretaker of the marijuana plants.

The stand's operators do not charge patients for the marijuana, said Mike Simmons, 32, of Exeter, a medical-marijuana user for nine years.

A Tulare County ordinance prohibits the operation of medical-marijuana dispensaries in unincorporated areas.

Six dispensaries – in Ivanhoe, Earlimart, Tipton, Exeter and Porterville – were shut down when the ordinance went into effect in December.

Sheriff's Sgt. Chris Douglass said that a deputy did respond to a call about a "marijuana patch" Wednesday and that the Sheriff's Tactical Enforcement Personnel team took charge of the investigation. The raid took place Friday. Simmons said severe mental problems have rendered him disabled and that Social Security disability payments are his only income.

His wife, Tuesday Simmons, 34, uses medical marijuana daily because of painful sciatica, she said. "I can't function without [marijuana]," she said. "It's all the medication I need."

An estimated 10,000 residents of Tulare County rely on medical marijuana, county officials were told last year.

"People from Hanford and all over Tulare County have to come to us," Mike Simmons said. "Now, we can't even help them."

Garcia said he and the Simmonses were breaking no laws.

State law allows "collectives" to grow marijuana or process products for patients with prescriptions, but federal law prohibits the sale of marijuana in any form.

The county ordinance is not specific regarding collectives.



News Hawk: Warbux 420 MAGAZINE
Source: Visalia Times-Delta
Author: Gerald Carroll
Contact: gcarroll@visalia.gannett.com
Copyright: 2010 Visalia Times-Delta
Website: Medical-marijuana stand raided by Tulare County deputies, marijuana plants seized near Caldwell Avenue | visaliatimesdelta.com | Visalia Times-Delta and Tulare Advance-Register