Lode Family Faces Seizure in Pot Case

Lode Family Faces Seizure in Pot Case
Posted by CN Staff on February 12, 2005 at 11:37:15 PT
By Francis P. Garland, Lode Bureau Chief
Source: Stockton Record 
San Andreas -- Three members of a San Andreas family who had doctors' recommendations to grow marijuana for medical reasons are facing criminal cultivation and possession charges, and could lose their property in a federal seizure. A criminal complaint filed last week in Calaveras County Superior Court charges Wesley Robert Crosiar Sr., 52; Wesley Rudolf Crosiar Jr., 30; and David Christopher Crosiar, 21, with cultivation of marijuana, possession of marijuana for sale and attempting to transport, sell or give away marijuana.
The charges stem from a September search of the Crosiars' Hawver Road property that netted approximately 138 marijuana plants found growing in five different sites. All three of the Crosiars had doctors' recommendations to use marijuana for medical reasons, which is legal under Proposition 215. But county law enforcement officials say criminal charges were filed because the size of the growing operation exceeded the county's medical marijuana guidelines. "They were growing more than they were allowed to," said Dana Owens, a deputy district attorney prosecuting the case. Undersheriff Michael Walker said that based on the size of the Crosiars' operation, his office believed the family was involved in a commercial growing operation. Walker said agents estimated the marijuana found at the Hawver Road site had a street value of nearly $557,000. He also said that based on the quantity and quality of marijuana and the Crosiars' reported usage, it would have taken them more than 11 years to smoke all the marijuana found at the site. In addition to facing prosecution, the Crosiars could lose their property to the federal government, which can seize property that it believes is used for illegal activity or was purchased with proceeds derived from illegal activity. David Michael, an attorney representing the Crosiars in the federal asset forfeiture case, would not comment because the matter is pending. The Crosiars, who were not arrested but were ordered to appear in court March 8 for arraignment on the cultivation and possession charges, could not be reached for comment. Medical marijuana advocates expressed anger at both the county's prosecution and the federal government's efforts to seize the Crosiars' property. "To take a family's home for growing marijuana is communist, as far as I can tell," said Dale Gieringer, coordinator for California NORML, a nonprofit group working to reform the state's marijuana laws. "This is something you'd see in Castro's Cuba. It's a political crime." Angels Camp resident David Jack, a medical marijuana user active in helping the county establish its guidelines several years ago, said this is the first time he's heard of a medical marijuana patient being subject to federal asset forfeiture. Jack criticized Sheriff Dennis Downum's office for informing federal officials about the case. "This is a violation of public health codes for him to go against (Proposition 215) and it's also against the California Constitution," Jack said. Downum defended his office's role in the case, saying that after most marijuana raids, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration is contacted to see if the case fits the criteria for asset forfeiture. "If they're interested, we file the paperwork and they take it from there," he said. The county's medical marijuana guidelines say that a patient with a doctor's recommendation can have six plants and up to two pounds of processed marijuana on hand. State guidelines allow six mature plants or 12 immature plants and no more than eight ounces of processed marijuana unless a doctor has authorized more. Medical marijuana also has become an issue in San Joaquin County in recent years, most notably with the arrest and prosecution of Aaron Paradiso, a quadriplegic who was charged with cultivating and possession with the intent to sell after authorities seized 52 plants from his Stockton home. Paradiso is awaiting trial. His next court date is scheduled for May 25. Jeffrey Tuttle, Calaveras County's district attorney, said his office must make a judgment call on every marijuana growing case that has an element of Proposition 215 involved. "In this case, the quantity was such that it was difficult to believe they were growing it for medical reasons," Tuttle said of the Crosiar case. "We don't want to prosecute someone with cancer who's smoking pot. But on the other hand, we can't let people use it as a ruse, either." Source: Record, The (CA)Author:  Francis P. Garland, Lode Bureau ChiefPublished: Saturday, February 12, 2005 Copyright: 2005 The RecordContact: editor recordnet.comWebsite: Article & Web Site:California NORML Forfeiting Freedom - Orange County Register Medical Marijuana Archives 
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