Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office Uses Scare Tactics
A showdown of sorts is brewing in Siskiyou County, California. Earlier this month, medical marijuana growers in Siskiyou County reported that Sheriff's deputies, sometimes along with a detective, showed up unannounced stating that they were there to do compliance checks. I have heard of compliance checks when a neighbor or someone reports suspicious activity, but I have never heard of an arbitrary series of compliance checks just because the police feel the need to do so. According to the Gridley Herald, the officers were even in camouflage. Sounds like they are out looking for a battle more than simply 'checking in' on people...
An excerpt from the Gridley Herald stated, "Without producing warrants, the deputies and a detective dressed in full camouflage were reported to have requested to see medical marijuana recommendation cards, asked to photograph the cards, requested and photographed identification, asked to view the number of plants in possession and, according to several people who experienced the visits, advised people on what medical conditions marijuana may or may not be used for. Citizens said they were also being told that if they donate marijuana to the local collective they will be prosecuted for narcotics violations."
The Siskiyou County Sheriff's office provided the following response to the Gridley Herald:
Siskiyou County Sheriff Jon Lopey responded to recent citizens concerns by saying that the Sheriff’s Office will abide by the doctor’s recommendation for marijuana amounts and that any misinformation put out by officers and detectives will be corrected.
Lopey stated in an interview earlier this week that cooperating with officers doing compliance checks is completely voluntary.
“The Sheriff’s Department will observe everyone’s right to use medical marijuana in compliance with California law,” Lopey said.
“Even though there is some legal confusion on the amounts specified by SB 420, we will respect the doctor’s recommendation for more. We have had cases where a person has had in excess of the doctor’s recommendation and we took no action. A person would have to be substantially in excess for the Department to take action. People in compliance have nothing to worry about.”
Lopey said he will be meeting with detectives to ensure they are relaying correct information to the public.
“I’m going over all the issues with the detectives. If anyone made a wrong statement, if there are any corrections to be made, we will correct them,” Lopey said.
Lopey said the compliance checks came in response to citizen complaints to the Department and the city of Dunsmuir.
“We received complaints at a City of Dunsmuir Public Safety Committee meeting,” Lopey said. “We have a contract with Dunsmuir to provide law enforcement. The city received complaints on illicit drug activity and complaints about medical marijuana growers not complying with the ordinance.”
Lopey said additional information for the compliance list came from the city of Dunsmuir ordinance records that requires marijuana growers to register with the city.
Lopey said he feels the compliance are useful to citizens in that they ensure that medical marijuana users are within the law.
He also noted that officers will no longer wear camouflage when making compliance checks.
Americans for Safe Access Response
Unfortunately, Americans for Safe Access has heard reports from Siskiyou County that its Sheriff's Department has compiled a "list" of medical marijuana patients and are visiting them to ensure compliance with California's medical marijuana laws. While ASA expects to put an end to this unlawful practice, it imparts the following information to medical marijuana patients throughout the State who are confronted by the police at their home.
First, do not let the police into your home without a warrant. You should always be polite, but do not let them into your home without a warrant.
Second, there is no reason for you to present the officers with your physician's recommendation, unless they have probable cause. Based on the reports ASA has received, officers in Siskiyou County are asking for recommendations, even without probable cause that any crime has been committed under California law.
Lastly, try to get the names of the officers and, if they have cards, get them as well. They will likely not give you their first names, but, if this question is asked appropriately, it may create a more professional environment for all involved.
If you have had an encounter with the Siskiyou Sheriff's Department because you were on their list of medical marijuana patients, we encourage you to contact ASA at (510) 251-1856 ext. 304. You can read more about medical cannabis compliance checks by clicking here.
“Being a medical marijuana patient is not a basis to be harassed by the police. We are extremely disappointed that the Siskiyou Sheriff's office is using private medical records to harass qualified medical marijuana patients,” Americans for Safe Access (ASA) attorney Joe Elford said. “We are considering all legal options for medical marijuana patients who have been subject to this abuse by the Siskiyou Sheriff's Department.”