Claiming they maliciously abused the law in searching his house and taking
his marijuana plants, a Montgomery Creek man is suing Shasta County Sheriff
Jim Pope, District Attorney McGregor Scott and two of Pope's deputies.

And in a separate action earlier this week, a San Francisco Bay area doctor
who writes medical marijuana recommendations filed a $400,000 claim against
Shasta County, charging Scott, Pope and other officials retaliated against
his medicinal marijuana work by having him hauled before the state medical
board last year.

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in Shasta County Superior Court on behalf
of Robert Vanoy, who has a doctor's recommendation for medical marijuana=
use.

But rather than protect him from criminal prosecution and other legal
sanctions, as required by California's 1996 Compassionate Use Act, Pope,
his deputies and Scott have used their own arbitrary medicinal marijuana
guidelines to harass Vanoy, the suit contends.

The suit, which seeks $25,000, court costs and attorney's fees, is the
second civil action filed against Pope and Scott by Oakland attorney
William M. Simpich. Also named in the action are sheriff's deputies Jim
Farmer and Jerry Shearman, members of the county's Marijuana Eradication=
Team.

Simpich's first suit, filed in February 2000 on behalf of medicinal
marijuana user Richard Levin, 50, and his wife, Kim, 36, both of Redding,
names deputies Tom Barner and Jerry Ashman.

That suit later was expanded into a class-action suit on behalf of all the
county's taxpayers and medical marijuana users. The case is expected to go
to trial in late summer.

Vanoy's case differs in that, unlike the Levins, he was not arrested. A
spokeswoman for Scott said Friday that Vanoy's case was referred to the
district attorney for possible prosecution, but was rejected specifically
because he was a medical marijuana user.

Charges against Kim Levin later were dropped, but Levin went to trial and
was acquitted of growing marijuana for sale in 1999.

Vanoy could not be reached for comment, but the suit contends that on Aug.
27, 1999, Farmer, Shearman and an unidentified third deputy searched his
house and property without a warrant, confiscated his marijuana plants and
seized two firearms, guns that belonged to a neighbor.

Two months later, according to the suit, Shearman called Vanoy and said the
guns would be returned if he promised not to sue.

But when the guns had not been returned by mid-2000, according to the suit,
Vanoy called the sheriff's office to ask where they were.

Then, on July 27, Shearman and two other officers went to Vanoy's house,
saying that the "district attorney sent them . . . to check up on him" and
ensure that he was complying with the county's medical marijuana
guidelines, which allow no more than two plants, the suit says.

When Vanoy told them he was growing plants for himself and another patient,
the officers confiscated four of the eight plants they found growing at his
house, according to the suit.

The suit attacks the guidelines, the searches and the continuous visits
from deputies, arguing that they "thwart rather than facilitate" legitimate
use of marijuana.

The guidelines are "wholly improper" and used "in an arbitrary and
irrational manner," part of "a relentless campaign against marijuana in any
form" the suit says.

Simpich said officers ought to be able to articulate the reasons they're
searching houses without warrants.

"It's that kind of drug war mentality where the ends overtake the means
that's so frustrating," he said. "What I find with these medical marijuana
cases is there's a continuing history of abuses from not following search
and seizure laws. . . . It's everything that's wrong with the drug war =97
encapsulated."

Sheriff Pope declined comment Friday, saying that he has not seen the suit.

"I don't know anything about it," Pope said.

Scott, who was out of town Friday, said through a spokeswoman that he has
not seen the suit and referred queries about it to the Shasta County
counsel's office.

County Counsel Karen Jahr did not return a call seeking comment on the
Vanoy suit and the $400,000 claim Simpich filed against Shasta County on
Monday on behalf of Tod Mikuriya, a Berkeley doctor who has made hundreds
of recommendations for medical marijuana use statewide.

In addition to Pope and Scott, that claim names the Shasta County Board of
Supervisors and the county Probation Department.

Mikuriya charges that he and several patients were hauled in front of the
state medical board last year in retaliation for his recommendations and
court testimony on behalf of Shasta County medical marijuana patients.

If the county denies the claim, Mikuriya can sue.


Newshawk: Jo-D and Tom-E
Pubdate: Sat, 17 Mar 2001
Source: Redding Record Searchlight (CA)
Copyright: 2001 Redding Record Searchlight - E.W. Scripps
Contact: letters@redding.com
Address: PO Box 492397, Redding, CA 96049-2397
Website: http://www.redding.com/
Forum: http://www.redding.com/disc2_frm.htm
Author: Maline Hazle, Record Searchlight