Sierra County Marijuana News 072011
The local Drug and Alcohol Advisory Board (it’s about PREVENTION; don’t call these folks looking for a good time) presented a letter to the Sierra County Board of Supervisors asking them to support Sierra County Sheriff John Evans in eradicating marijuana on private and U.S. Forest Service lands.
The Board of Supervisors weren’t real impressed, and Board Chair and former county top cop Lee Adams essentially asked, “why, whatever do you mean?” He pointed out that the Sheriff is an elected office and the Board can’t tell him what to do. They OK most of the funding he can justify; what else can they do to support him. Adams compared the letter to the question “do you still beat your wife”, since there is no evidence the Board ever beat its wife, meaning ever didn’t support the sheriff.
Dave Goicoechea pointed out that the Forest Service has been nothing but a problem. Long time county residents don’t need that statement explained, but for out of county readers, the Forest Service legally owns a huge portion of Sierra County, and though individual district rangers do make attempts to accommodate the county, generally speaking they rip down mine shacks, restrict travel, curtail traditional use, rearrange watersheds and pretty much act like a nasty step-daddy.
Scott Schlefstein said he supports their efforts, saying a criminal element is not something we want in the community.
Your Fringe Editor is not going to do a content analysis on the letter, which is available at the very end of the Board Packet, ( http://www.sierracounty.ws/county_docs/bos/BOS%20JULY%2019%202011/07192011%20BOS%20PKT.pdf).
They are not social analysts, they’re just well-meaning folks who know a lot of misery is associated with drugs and confuse correlation with causality. Some folks present have had a fun and dangerous time with drugs, literally lost relatives to drugs especially alcohol, and to get better in this society one must renounce those past sins and profess to believe a new way. It isn’t likely the Advisors on the committee get much information from the broader world, and probably absorb a lot of government pap.
We’ll jump on board with Supervisor Schlefstein when we say we don’t want a criminal element in the county, and so we assume he means as we do that all drugs should be decriminalized and treated as either personal choice or a medical problem. Legalizing drugs won’t mean people won’t use them, after all, prescription drugs are hugely abused in the US. But, allowing legal channels for things people want and are going to get anyway reduces crime.
We’d like to see the Drug and Alcohol Advisory Committee entertain that kind of philosophy, too.
Not to accuse these decent and well-meaning neighbors of being communists, but here in capitalist America, we know people do things for money. It isn’t marijuana the growers and cops are addicted to, it’s money.
Indeed, in this seemingly endless war on drugs, the only thing that has reduced the price of marijuana, and so the profit motive for the criminal element we all fear has been the medical marijuana market, which provides clean, safe marijuana to people through a crime-free access.
Want the thugs out of our woods? Tell your elected representatives to rein in the Forest Service. Want to get pot growers out of the woods? Let business people grow pot in the valley.
What can the Sierra County Board of Supervisors do? They can’t tell the sheriff what to do, but they can discourage too much military spending in the county.
The Council noted that they wrote the letter because our Sheriff, little Jonny Evans, went to them and boo-hooed because the Board is not gung-ho about marijuana eradication efforts by the SO. It’s true, too, but not very true. Some of the Board members simply realize that the cannabis prohibition is a federal problem, and Forest Service Land is a federal problem, and most people aren’t in danger of stumbling on a big pot grow on FS land because the Forest Service doesn’t let the public on their land.
It’s the press in Sierra County that’s been giving the Sheriff grief. He accepted a grant under the conditions he rat grows out to the IRS. He pitched in with probation to get a massive SUV to truck troops to forest grows.
Still, the Prospect has long said we are lucky to have Evans as a Sheriff, because he’s basically a decent guy. He isn’t the rabid dog we might have, and he, like the Advisors, isn’t a social analyst, he’d a guy trying to do the best job he can to bring law enforcement to people in the county as they need it.
Illegal grows on private land are a problem, and resident growers can be dangerous. In Humboldt County the sheriff deputized lumber company goons so they could pluck hippies out of trees. Maybe if SPI finds a grow on their private land, they could have some folks deputized to help in the cleanup.
The rest of us with some timber lands do have to be careful. It’s a violation of property rights to have some creep grow pot on your land. You don’t know if there will be repercussions if you call the cops, but can’t knowingly allow them to continue and can’t use your land until they stop. Most pot growers aren’t very dangerous unless they also do speed. Most have guns to prevent piracy and to discourage deer and other critters. Still, no one wants armed thugs in the community.
Let’s think about alcohol. Is it a dangerous drug, implicated in crime and vehicle accident deaths? Yep, and it’s also responsible for beer tents at local events, wine tasting in the valley, and single malt scotch. When was the last time the sheriff had to approach the Board for a grant to get the whiskey distillers off Forest Service property?
The Scary Scary Fed Pot Memo Appears in the County.
Sheriff Evans has a copy of the most recent scary memo. This is the famous June memo in which the feds stated they would continue to bust medical marijuana grows.
And, indeed, they have. Barack Obama has done the impossible, he’s made me wonder if I shouldn’t have voted for the military brat and the wacky lady from Alaska. Raids on medical marijuana growers and distributors under Obama are twice that under George W.
However, while the intent of sending the memo to local sheriffs might have been to energize them to bust locals, that isn’t its power. We elect our sheriff, not the feds, and while all local cops ultimately answer to the Attorney General, in the real world they answer to us. The people of California, in a flash of wisdom and compassion, said people whose lives were made better by cannabis could use it to that end. That’s all the local sheriff has to know.
The memo states in part:
Persons who are in the business of cultivating, selling or distributing marijuana, and those who knowingly facilitate such activities, are in violation of the Controlled Substances Act, regardless of state law. Consistent with resource constraints and the discretion you may exercise in your district, such persons are subject to federal enforcement action, including potential prosecution. State laws or local ordinances are not a defense to civil or criminal enforcement of federal law with respect to such conduct, including enforcement of the CSA. Those who engage in transactions involving the proceeds of such activity may also be in violation of federal money laundering statutes and other federal financial laws.
The implication to this is that local politicos might be criminally culpable if they set up a medical marijuana taxing system. There’s no reason to believe they’d choose Sierra County for this kind of activity when there are larger targets, like Sacramento, which is allowing dispensaries, available. However, it also provides an opportunity for local prosecutors to consider resource constraints and discretion, real world terms that mean “try not to bust any pot smoking grannies”.
The federal government is a large animal with a very diffuse brain. Change comes very slowly to those who rule the Free and the Brave with an iron fist. Tough talk and political examples are part of the bullying the feds do.
What does this memo mean to us, in Sierra County? Currently, it doesn’t mean much. A sheriff that wants to be re-elected enforces state and local laws, and when the feds swoop in to punish those with too much liberty, the sheriff should be there to witness that no citizen’s civil rights are violated by the feds.
That isn’t as exciting and coppish as showing up to wield an automatic alongside the SWATting feds, but it’s the right job for local law enforcement to fulfill, whether the feds are clearing out an old mine shack, or stealing someone’s marijuana.