Aggressive marijuana busts prompt protests

January 2, 2011

Racheal Tamagni at home with her dogs before the raid

By KAREN VELIE

Medical marijuana advocates plan to protest against what they claim were aggressive and uncalled for raids on local cannabis delivery services at a rally planned for Tuesday, Jan. 11 at 7:30 a.m., in front of the San Luis Obispo County Courthouse.

During the December 27 arrests, one man suffered a heart attack, guns were held to the heads of children as they were dragged from their beds, family pets were kicked, grandparents were handcuffed and forced to lie on the floor and children were removed from their parents’ custody, multiple sources said.

“They busted my door down and cuffed me with a gun to my head,” Steven Gordon said. “I showed them my paperwork and my documentation and asked what I did wrong. They said I sold to a police officer.”

After a two month investigation, the San Luis Obispo County Narcotic Task Force said that the delivery services they investigated were violating California’s Marijuana Compassionate Use Act and Medical Marijuana Program by transporting and selling marijuana “illegally” throughout San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Monterey Counties.  At least six agencies and 50 agents participated in the investigation and arrests of 15 people.

The raids appear to be based on an interpretation of state law – specifically that everyone in a collective must be actively participating in the cultivation of the plants.

“It’s wasteful to spend taxpayer dollars to aggressively raid state law-compliant collectives,” said Kris Hermes, media spokesperson with Americans for Safe Access. “But, it’s a greater tragedy that local officials would resort to taking people’s children away because they don’t agree with the state’s medical marijuana law.”

Charles Tamagni

Rachel Tamagni, 57, of Paso Robles began using medical marijuana to replace medications that caused her severe depression. She started the delivery service after having an attorney help comply to legal requirements.

“I wanted to help others,” Racheal Tamagni said. “We are in the red on this. We only deliver to five people.”

The Tamagnis’ 8-year-old part Chihuahua died shortly after the raid on their home. They believe the three hour search overly excited the fragile dog.

“She was a rescue dog with a heart condition,” Charles Tamagni said.  “We were careful to not excite her, but there was so much tension here that morning.”

The Tamangis were the last two people placed in a van that deputies drove throughout the county picking up those they arrested.

Some arrestees were left in the task force van for more than three hours while officers made arrests, sources said. Those inside, were not allowed to use the restroom and Peter Miller ended up urinating in the van.

Peter Miller

“When he urinated, they were just laughing, they didn’t care,” Steven Gordon said.

Gordon, a Pismo Beach single father of a 10-year-old, said he keeps his medical marijuana in a safe in his garage.

“They took my daughter and drug tested her,” Gordon said. “My daughter is a straight A student at Shell Beach Elementary. They served people with legitimate paperwork.”

Gordon regularly provides medical marijuana to his patients for free. He said he even gave the undercover officer free medicine during his second delivery to her.

An agent using the name Amy Dobson made an appointment with San Luis Obispo based Dr. Atsuko Rees to obtain a medical marijuana card. Some of Rees’ former colleagues accuse her of abusing laws meant to help patients with chronic problems.

About a year ago, some of her former colleagues asked the San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s office to investigate Rees.

Steven Gordon

Rees provided Dobson a list of medical marijuana delivery services during her visit. Dobson provided each of the services a copy of Rees’ medical marijuana recommendation and photo identification.

Following the arrests, a press release from the task force said that agents seized approximately four grams of cocaine, 57 pounds of marijuana, 162 marijuana plants, 146 grams of hash, 718 grams of hash oil, seven firearms and $492,931 in cash.

“Agents arrested 15 individuals who were charged on several counts of Health and Safety Code Section 11351, Possession of Cocaine for Sales, Health and Safety Code Section 11358, Cultivation of Marijuana, Health and Safety Code Section 11359, Possession of Marijuana for Sales, Health and Safety Code Section 11360, Sales of Marijuana and California Penal Code Section 273a(a), Child Endangerment,” the press release says.

The task force failed to mention that the seven firearms seized were discovered in a locked gun safe at the Paso Robles home of Peter Miller, an avid hunter. In addition, the cocaine was seized from only one residence.

The first set of arraignments is scheduled for January 11, at 8 a.m. at the San Luis Obispo County Courthouse.


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roguewarde

Law enforcement? What a joke! These actions, as here reported, are nothing but official thuggery at best. Worse, it’s thuggery under cover of the badge. Whose interests are being protected or served? Not law abiding citizens. I can see no plausible reason for the use of excessive force, SWAT tactics, against non-violent offenders, or in this case, non-offenders. Time to turn the red dot of intimidation onto SLO County’s bully narco tactics and stop the abuse. If the grand jury or board of supervisors won’t do it, then citizens can and will. And please do us the favor of not calling these criminal police actions “law enforcement.” They’re anything but lawful.


californiacoastlaw

What an injustice. Best of luck to the people involved.


medpotdelivery

Beyond all the ins and outs and grey areas regarding police conduct does anyone think 12 people are going to ever convict these guys?


Just recently in Montana they couldn’t even seat a jury in a possession/distribution case where medical marijuana wasn’t even an issue.


Why can’t we stop trying to impose communism on a certain group of sick people and just live and let be.


danika

Control. It’s about control, bigger government, and who has the money. The real losers in this situation are those who truly do need MM for health reasons. Those involved in this “take down” must have never personally felt the helplessness of a close loved oned dying from terminal cancer. There comes a point, when you are “nursing” your loved one into death, the pain gets so tremendous, you would literally do anything to give them any small relief from that incredible pain. As a mother to a sick child, a son to a father, a sister to a sister, a friend to a lifelong friend, you would break any law to NOT see that level of pain in their eyes. I am not talking about terminating their lives, I am talking compassion. Compassion.


This madness must stop. The needs of the many, outweigh the needs of the few or the one. We need to gather peacefully, contest the laws that restrict us, and take back our right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness NOW, while we still have a right to assemble. Tomorrow, we might not even have that…Blessings.


Cindy

Danika, I knew a person who was in the situation that you describe. She called in “hospice care” and they would come to her home daily because his illness was terminal and it was just a matter of time. They gave her some very powerful narcotics for her husbands pain.They instructed her that when he passed away that she should call them first. She administered the drugs according to the instructions and left them by her husbands bedside (telling him what they were). He passed away 36 hours later. She called them and they came over and confirmed his passing. Then they took all the remaining medications and emptied them down the toilet (as was the appropriate thing to do with remaining medication). Then they called the coroner. It was over and he didn’t have to suffer any longer. I would recommend “Hospice Care” to anyone in a situation as you describe.


MarkJames

I encourage everyone who can show up at the court house on the 11th to do so. Unfortunately, most people work on weekdays but if people can show up on the way to work, it would be a good thing to do so, even if they are only there for 15 minutes. We need everyone, don’t think that you aren’t needed because everyone else will be there. That is what everyone else is thinking. Everyone needs to do their part and be counted if we are going to put a stop to this bullying and bring our LEO into line. Remember, they have forgot who they answer to and who they work for, we have to remind them, it is our duty, everyone of us.


willie

This may seem profound but think about this cut from below, it makes sense to me:


Dude

says: 01/04/2011 at 8:52 am

I guess the LEO in SLO would rather you buy your Cannabis from the drug cartels.


willie

says: 01/04/2011 at 9:57 pm

Dude

That is keen insight and possibly true!

Seriously, if you were looking at LE as “a business”, it would be more productive and profitable for people to buy Marijuana illegally.

More arrest, more guns, more money seized, more job security, funding, more perdeim, more equipment, glory


WiseGuy

We want a Citizen’s Review Board now! Issue a press release about THAT, Mr. Parkinson! What ARE you afraid of?


And maybe it’s time that the law enforcement officers who think the anti-marijuana fanatics in the force are insane or corrupt should come out and have the courage to speak up to put an end to this wasteful, losing war on pot that costs tax payers so darn much money, that could be better spent giving officers better training or improving education in general.


But perhaps too many officers like making pot busts because of what ends up in their pockets.


We would like to respect local law enforcement, but under these circumstances most people are finding it a bit difficult. So sad. Such a waste.


Cindy

WseGuy, I could have wrote your comment myself ! I don’t smoke marijuana but it is about the principal to me.


danika

I also do not smoke pot, never have. This is about more than that. I am fed up with the gradual “strip mining” of my personal freedoms. ENOUGH!


Cindy

I smoked it several years ago for a medical condition. I used it for a few weeks and it worked. I have to admit that it was pretty funny stuff but not something I would think of wanting to do for recreational purposes. It did make me laugh all the time at things that really weren’t even funny and it gave me the munchies, especially for sweets. It also made me lazy, tired and sort of stupid but I was very relaxed and peaceful. Apparently, most people just relax when they use it. Each to their own. I support their freedoms.


WiseGuy

Is Ian Parkinson going to address the public regarding these controversial arrests and all the criticism that is being leveled at local law enforcement?


Or is he going to hide and issue vague press releases and let his mouth-piece/propagandist Rob Bryn try to smooth it over with another truck load of warmed over B.S.?


What is it that is driving SOME local law enforcement officer to have such a hard-on to want to keep fighting the losing battle to stop marijuana use? Former Sheriff Pat Hedges embarrassed SLO County nation-wide with his Charles Lynch medical marijuana arrest boondoggle. Will Ian Parkinson prove to be just as foolish and inept (and possibly corrupt)?


As usual, the public has lots of serious questions and as usual our “leaders” not only refuse us answers, they get upset that we even ask the questions.


One thing we know for sure, many local alcohol purveyors/distributors want marijuana to remain illegal, and alcohol to remain the legally acceptable way to get high, even though that’s also the route that leads to so much domestic abuse, fights and drunk driving accidents and deaths.


But the alcohol industry has deep pockets and years of experience in knowing how to use that money to “lobby” influential people.


JordanJ

Too much power always has and always will engender mankind; as we have seen with this NT force. Because they are made up of a conglomerate of agencies, it makes it difficult to sort them out. Some individual victims like the Tamangi’s state that they were not mistreated apart from the fact that they were illegally arrested, searched and their dog died from fright to others who were grossly mistreated and even their family pets were abused.

Not all of the law enforcement who participated were “up for this”. We need answer’s, who did what and then demand prosecutions of the guilty LEO. We need names. We need to see to it that the guilty LEO are never in a position to control a citizen again under the guise of authority. We are the authority and LEO should not forget that but they apparently have, they need to know that and hear it loud and clear. There are innocent LEO involved in this and there are guilty LEO. We need names, we need justice, we need prison for LEO and we need to confiscate their bank accounts for crimes against the people.


Paul Anthony

See my comments under Atty Fisher’s post. I completely agree. Jordan, you beat me to it!


Cindy

Does anyone recall the recent case where attorney Lou Koory not only got all charges dismissed against a MM patient but won an award of 20K from the LEO to pay for the medical marijuana that they destroyed? I’m surprised that none of these recent victims retained him. I think maybe this time defending oneself isn’t enough. I think this time the people have to go back after the criminal thugs in the uniforms, vest’s and helmets with the guns that point red dot’s at citizens. Sounds like a nightmare to just envision them and guess what, I’m sure it is. Those poor children and grandparents. Heck those poor middle aged adults! NO MORE GESTAPO, It’s time to JUST SAY NO!