Marijuana dispensary arrestees’ attorney speaks out

January 4, 2011

David Fisher


Please be advised this office has been retained to represent Christopher and Amy Austin, Rachel and Charles Tamagni, Peter Miller, and Steven Gordon regarding their recent arrests during the raids of several medical marijuana services.

While our office has yet to receive any investigation materials from either law enforcement or the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office, we can tell you that, based upon the information provided to us by our clients, it appears as though they were conducting themselves in complete compliance with California law.

The residents of SLO County should know that our clients’ dispensaries were non-profit organizations. Some of them were even losing money, but they continued to provide medical marijuana because they are truly committed to helping the ill find some relief.

The residents of SLO County should also know that the SLO County Narcotic Task Force press release is grossly misleading. From the Task Force’s press release, one would think that the people arrested all worked together or were in some sort of conspiracy. Nothing could be further from the truth. Our clients did not know each other or any of the other arrested individuals prior to being thrown into the same law enforcement van together.

Another misleading item in the press release relates to the cocaine that was seized. This cocaine was not seized in this county. Our understanding is that this cocaine was seized in an arrest in Tarzana and that our clients have nothing to do with any cocaine.

From what we are told,the conduct of some law enforcement during the raids on our clients’ homes was extremely abusive. We are told that guns were pointed at children and grandparents. We are told that some of our clients were left in a law enforcement van for hours without any heat and that one of our clients was left in the van so long that he urinated on himself. We are told that law enforcement laughed as they watched this happen.

Our clients are upstanding members of the community.They are people who donate their time and money to charity.They are the kind of people our community should celebrate, not arrest, abuse, and publicly humiliate.

In 1989, David Fisher was drawn to the beauty of San Luis Obispo County and decided to move his practice and his family to Morro Bay. His criminal defense practice has been located in San Luis Obispo ever since.


Another display of LEO’s gone out of control:

They confiscated the camera that recorded this event and then said they were unsure if someone inside the home set the fire or the M84 itself did. SWAT was responsible.


If you take a close look at what is going on over at the Tribune you will find that they have posted a copy of Andrew Downs probation report. In that report, it is noted that Andrew had a marijuana recommendation and smoked small amounts on a daily basis and was purchasing from a mobile dispensary. There is a commenter over at the Trib blog who is obviously a LEO. He is trying to claim that Andrew’s psychotic episodes were exacerbated by his use of marijuana which lead to the shooting death’s of the two woman at the Santa Margarita Ranch! He also claims that this is what caused the NTF to raid and arrest all the mobile dispensary owners! What a crock of s***.
No doubt that they will attempt to create a fiasco when this case (false arrest, etc) goes to trial. Funny thing is that in the probation report, the person who interviewed Andrew does not indicate that they believe there is a problem with Andrew using small amounts of marijuana but yet the police think they know better. What idiots.


Anyone see that the Trib finally got on board this morning with this story? Of course it was a small article, on page two, buried next to entertainment. As we have all said here before, good thing CCN is around keeping on top of this and other stories on the Central Coast, or we would all be in the dark. If CCN had a sports page and a couple more articles, there would be no reason for me to read the Trib. ;-)


Parkinson needs to step up now and let us all know he is not going to do the same old BS that we have been living with for the last 10 years! I noticed all through this horrendous episode that he doesn’t have a comment…………to me that means he is afraid to piss off the severe right wing folks that didn’t vote for 420 or 215 and still believe the old lies of “Reefer Madness”! Medical Marijuana is here for a reason, we voted for it and it works. Those red neck LEOs don’t believe in it and think they are the law! Let us see some real criminals prosecuted this time around……..the LEOs that disrespected those folks civil rights as human beings let alone citizens of this wonderful county. It is now or never for Parkinson!


I’m no fan of the sheriff, and I am 100% sympathetic towards Medical Marijuana…..but……

Parkinson has been put in a very tough spot.

On the one hand, he’s got to do something about the corruption in the department. On the other hand, like all cops, he feels very strong loyalty to the department and the people who work there.

Cops who side against other cops, for ANY reason, have a very difficult time. If Parkinson were to come out strongly in favor of the dispensaries, and was to denounce the thuggish tactics used in their arrests, he would create a very difficult situation for himself and would hurt the morale of the sheriff’s department.

So….he’s going to be very careful, very political and very non-committal with regard to the whole affair. He won’t condone the cops publicly for this action, but will find ways of saying what a fine bunch they are in other areas.

At the same time, he won’t denounce the dispensary owners either, but will mumble something about being sympathetic towards medical marijuana users who are ill and have cancer, etc.

And that’s about it. Don’t expect any kind of strong statement from him, one way or the other. Politicians don’t take stands based on principle!!

We’re going to have to wait months and years and discern Parkinson’s philosophy by the department’s actions, not the sheriff’s words.

My guess is that most charges will be dropped and the whole event will be swept under the rug. Those arrested will be enticed to walk away quietly…..I certainly hope one or two will FIGHT!!

And, finally, deliveries in this county will continue.

On a side note: interesting that 2 of those arrested were also in the race to get one of the dispensary licenses in Morro Bay.


So who are we going to let lead law enforcement in this county? a shadow group of police, or the people of California who passed the goddamned law?
Are we going to quietly accept the rule of racism or demand that law enforcement treat people as people.


IMHO all marijuanha laws are thinly veiled racism.


The problem we have is very deep and complex.
Most people DEMAND government power in one area or another, in order to force their will on others. People on the left, right and center of the political spectrum are all thirsty for government power to so they can go out and “fix” things.

As long as that mentality is in place, expect abuse, unaccountability and brutality to continue in all areas, not just medical marijuana.

Legalize pot and you’ll have abuse in another area.

Too much power concentrated in government is the problem…..but very few people want to give that up and take responsibility for themselves. On the contrary, they don’t see a problem with the power, just with the way the power is being used.

So, my long diatribe in response to your question can be boiled down to this:

The people aren’t in control. It won’t matter who gets elected, politicians are corrupt and power hungry by nature…..because we’ve demanded that they have all that power.

Nothing will change until they no longer have the power….and they won’t give it up!

Paul Anthony

Let’s stop calling them LEO’s. Let name the city and the department. Let’s name the names of the officers.

They are on the police reports. Name them. Their addresses and phone numbers are protected as they should be. Their image is protected, as they should be.

This was not an “undercover” operation, so no harm, no foul.

Name them.


Thank you, Mr. Fisher, for the statement. I am glad to know SOMEONE is looking out for the people because it is blatantly clear, our LEOs aren’t. I applaud you.


Attorney Fisher, I hope you tell the DA, NO PLEA DEALS. Take it straight to a jury. Expose these thugs and then file a big civil law suit. There is no jury that will not acquit these citizens and find the behavior of the NTF to be egregious and even criminal, in my opinion.
That is what it will take for us citizens to take down those who claim to be “protecting us”, it looks like we now need to protect ourselves from them. It makes me sick to think that this is what they do with our money and then it’s our money that pay’s for the bad behavior but that’s is how it’s going to have to be until we can take control of our government officials.
I’m all for disbanding them and bringing in a private agency. Employers can control private employees and currently, us Employers have no control until we demand private agencies. Sure we can finger the top people and threaten to vote them out or even recall them but it’s a threat that never comes to fruition. There is always another Good Ole Boy waiting to take their place.


Private security would either have to be deputized or POST Certified to lower false arrest liability insurance, the neat thing about it is, if the security company suffers in a law suit the tax payerswill not. It would be Constitutionally easier to shut down the old and restructure or replace the existing agency (in other words fire them all) or recall/ replace the one in charge. So if the politicians fails to see that a LE agency cannot function or succeed (in many many ways) without the support of the population then there is something wrong. This bust was not neccessitated, moreso the behavior of a few.


I would have to check with a legislative member on this because I think a city or government cannot shut down a LE agency without litigation consequences from the LE Unions due to work contract or Binding Arbitration unless it files or Chapter 6 or authorized by a public initiative vote.


False arrest is part of liability insurance that all people have under their CPL/GL coverages. It includes unlawful detainment, false arrest, slander, libel, to name a few. I am unclear what your point is?


I was responding in theory to another post entertaining thoughts outside the box.
Your probably more up or current on this sort of stuff.
A little over 40 years ago I was in a large LE Agency, none of this stuff was discussed in the academy, field training or in any briefing during my three years in LE, I went into an Engineering career after that, so I am very old old school.
Forgive my ignorance, and thank you for being the first to elaborate or enlighten me more.
I was talking to my younger brother on the telephone (long time SWAT in a large LE agency, about to retire soon and may move here to SLO) and commenting about the NTF, before I could finish the details, he concluded the conversation quickly by saying, “you have people that don’t belong and shouldn’t be where they’re at” then we distracted into more important topics like family.
He also mentioned “Don’t worry about the Good Old Boys affecting the professional ones, the professional ones will get over it!”
Those are very good comments and so is yours.


No prob. No ill intended on my comment.


A Plea deal would only serve to CYA the NTF from liability and losing face.
Your absolutely correct, NO PLEA BARGAINING in this case
The raid was not necessitated, but my gripe is against the deranged cheap arrogance of a few of these LE officers (There is a real mental/ethic issue here!), they need to be replaced and the person in charged need to be replaced (permanantly or they will affect the professional ones)!!!
Believe it or not, the professional and skilled LEO are internally helpless in even breathing a word or sign against these types.


By any chance this isn’t the same group of knucklehead cops that busted up the laundry mat in A-town is it? It sounds like the same M.O.


Yes, They are the same idiots. They waited until the owner closed his business for the day and then had a good time smashing in his large plate glass windows. They are a gang of thugs and should not be operating among civilized citizens. For those that don’t recall the incident. Absolutely no drugs were found. They were looking for the families son who had been told months earlier that he was not welcome in the families home or business. These thugs put a gun to innocent family members and threw a younger son on the ground. They also went to the families home and broke down unlocked doors. In the end, it was “oh well, sorry about the mess”. Something needs to be done about this BS. The New Times also ran a horrendous story about their behavior last month. In that story, they also found no drugs but damaged yet, psychologically another innocent family and young child for life. What does it take to shut them down and get them off our streets?


Any settlement against the county should be taken out of Hedges retirement fund, and every officer who was involved in this assault should be forced to go back to the scene of their crime and fix what they broke. Until these “cowboys” are made to account for their actions they will continue to hide behind their badges.


So whats the motivation??? MONEY They reported 495,000.00 but the word on the street was Hedges needed the money and wanted one last bust. Hedges reported 495,000.00, however the word is there was 600,000.00. However whats important here is not the evil weed…WE THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES VOTED….and your vote is being discounted which is against democracy. Hedges has his own adjenda and is not in support of the people or state laws. Why hasen’t anyone raided his office with protest with shovles and rakes and implements of distruction??? Why don’t we take them out back and horse whip them? Because we are complacent behind our TV’s. If we the people do not act as a group to expunge the vermin from society we will be held down by the man and it will be too late to act.
Secondly these cowards are affraid to raid the meth labs because the meth cartel has guns. The business people they busted where people following the new rules. Trying to provide a service to the community. If there was a violation don’t you think a knock on the door and present a ticket of violation and notice to appear would have been more appropriate?
How about all your tax dollars with the swat team and helicopters? They destroyed property instead of just asking for what they wanted. These guys are so stupid they couldn’t find the real stash which was right in front of them in plane sight. City government needs to figure it all out to protect us from the injustice of the police force who has there own adjenda. These law inforcement people did this for one reason…..TO STEAL MONEY FORM INOCENT PEOPLE. Everyone who was involved should have there badges pulled with no pay. Throw Hedges out of town we don’t want him here he is a blister of society against the people who put him in office. PUT HEDGES IN JAIL WHERE HE BELONGS AS A COMMON THIEF, LIAR, AND CHEAT.


WOW, irayone, that was some rant. Problem is that the majority of the money you mention was in the peoples saving accounts and wasn’t drug money (cash) hidden under their pillows. The LEO can’t steal any of that money!

What makes you so certain that Hedges is behind this? It could be a considerably different scenario than you think when it comes to who started it and got the NTF involved. It doesn’t have to be Hedges but he makes an excellent scape goat for the real ring leader.

Many people are outraged but the only way to handle this is to support the victims and encourage them not to except any plea deals. The jury=12 citizens will then find them “NOT GUILTY” and the civil suits can begin. The media will do the rest and it will all come out.

Put down your rake and shovel, smoke a joint but don’t physically attack any LEO or their headquarters, they will shoot you.

PS – It would be funny to being a “PLASTIC” rake and shovel to the protest. Something that is made for kids.


Where is the legal defense fund?
I am so glad these people are getting good representation!
I also hope that a lawsuit can be brought against the county and the various uniformed thugs who committed this crime.

When a person or organization is committed to carefully following the law, they should not be subject to SWAT team tactics, as if they were Al Qaeda terrorists. A simple knock on the door would have sufficed if they were involved in some minor infraction.

It’s time things changed in this county! If people who are in complete compliance with the law are abused in this manner, that means the sheriff is breaking the law!