420 Magazine Background

Mendocino D.A.'s Pot Fee Raises Cash, Eyebrows

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
Mendocino County District Attorney David Eyster has been busy since taking office in January, dealing with campaign promises and implementing new practices that are raising funds and eyebrows.

One of his most novel and controversial moves has been to allow people charged with felony marijuana cultivation to plead guilty to misdemeanor possession if they agree to pay a $50-per-plant eradication fee to law enforcement agencies. The defendants also are placed on probation for two years and sentenced to 100 to 200 hours of community service, depending on the number of plants they were growing.

The program is being hailed as progress by some and reviled as an extortion by others.

"There are a lot of mixed feelings," said Jim Hill, a member of the Mendocino Medical Marijuana Advisory Board. He believes the new program is a good compromise.

So far, at least 31 people – all involved in cases that have lagged from years prior – have taken the deal and paid the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office more than $117,000.

If those defendants later want to grow medical marijuana, they will be required to buy medical marijuana zip ties from the Sheriff's Office at $50 per plant. The ties – optional for everyone else – prove the plants are certified for medical use.

It's a boon to the cash-strapped Sheriff's Office, which increasingly is relying on drug-related funds to balance its budget. It's hoping to raise more than $500,000 next year through a medical marijuana permitting program. This year it used about $450,000 in drug-related asset forfeiture funds to pay for overtime.

Those eligible for Eyster's new plea deals generally are first-time offenders and people who may have been planning to become legal by obtaining medical marijuana credentials, Eyster said. Profiteers and trespass growers are not eligible, he said.

The agreements not only generate income for law enforcement, they save the District Attorney's Office time and money, he said. They also save the defendants legal fees, Eyster said.

"It's a win-win program," he said.

Marijuana advocates and their defenders largely welcome the program as progress, but it also has raised concerns.

"I think it's commendable" that the charges are being reduced to misdemeanors, said Ukiah marijuana defense attorney Bob Boyd. But some of his clients see it as a payoff.

"People are saying 'I have to pay my extortion fee,' " he said. Another concern is that only people with enough money to pay can benefit, which seems contrary to the concept of equal justice, he said.

"It's a very odd and slippery slope," Boyd said.

The program is based on a little-known law that allows law enforcement agencies to recover the costs of marijuana eradication. But it may soon become more commonly used as other cash-strapped agencies search for new revenue sources.

"Other counties are asking me 'how did you get this going?' " Eyster said.

Eyster's approach is consistent with his promise to streamline marijuana prosecutions and halt what he said was the overcharging of pot crimes. He's also spearheading state legislation that would allow district attorneys to decide whether cultivation cases should be charged as misdemeanors or felonies. Currently, cultivation is a felony.

NewsHawk: Jim Behr: 420 MAGAZINE
Source: PressDemocrat.com
Copyright: 2011 PressDemocrat.com
Contact: Contact Us | PressDemocrat.com
Website: Mendocino D.A.'s pot fee raises cash, eyebrows | PressDemocrat.com

The Curator

New Member
Outright theft: "Just pay off the DA and the sheriff, and you can go home."

Mendocino D.A.'s Pot Fee Raises Cash, Eyebrows...
"The agreements not only generate income for law enforcement, they save the District Attorney's Office time and money, he said. They also save the defendants legal fees, Eyster said."

Talk about your brass balls..un-baLEEvable.
"Just pay off the DA and the Sheriff and you can get out of jail and go home. You can even set up another grow we promise we won't raid, only this time you'll have to pay the Sheriff's Office fifty bucks per plant for overtime for the deputies. "
Another way to "Save the defendants money" would be to Stop extorting money from Cannabis Growers with the threat of prison, which destroys families! GO DO SOMETHING ELSE, sheriff's deputies! Stop ripping off people's crops to pay for your overtime money! That's a direct redistribution of wealth and a blatant rip off of cannabis farmers by the cops, who OTHERWISE will simply steal all your crops and go sell the bud. Isn't the next step mandatory inspections and fifty buck a pop zip ties on every plant, everywhere as a tax stamp? Why do I say the cops will steal and sell the confiscated drugs? Because they've been caught doing it all over the country. Plenty of cops are stoners and dealers. All I see here is an institutional "License to steal." If people aren't doing anything harmful ( which is obviously the case because it's cool for them to grow, as long as they pay fifty bucks per plant directly to the cops - NOT for social programs.)Bovine Excrement. you can bet that the "Mandatory inspections" are coming next like they do for Section 8 housing, right? In some states any peace officer can go behind the bar to chck on anything he wants to, anytime he wants. Why would they NOT do that to cannabis grows? Unannounced inspections of your grow room and harvest, anyone? STAY OUT of our grow rooms and gardens, you theiving cops lining your own pockets! PARK THE DAMNED HELICOPTERS and aircraft, if you need to save money to pay for overtime for your officers. Better yet, CANCEL overtime payments for cops. If a soldier in Afghanistan doesn't get any overtime money, in a poor economy WHY should a cop riding around in a patrol car in Mendicino get time and a half, on top of the 80 grand salary he already gets? Why should that money come from shaking down growers and breaking up their families with prison terms which help nobody other than the owners of adult strip clubs, since there will be a plethora of young women "On the pole" for money since they grew up alone and "guessing at life" with their parents in prison for pot?
Top Bottom