Yolo Man Says He Was Raided Despite Having Valid Medical Marijuana Permits

Last week Yolo County Sheriff Ed Prieto told the county board that, after receiving complaints and concerns about illegal grows in California, in the past few weeks the sheriff’s department has served nine search warrants.

He said, “We’re being very vigilant about those that are illegal. We’re taking an appropriate course of action.” He estimated that they have confiscated or destroyed over $14 million worth of allegedly illegal cannabis.

The sheriff made it clear: “We are not… the Yolo County Sheriff’s Department is not going to allow and we’re going to stay extremely vigilant to the illegal grows and make sure that we take the appropriate course of action. Hopefully if we continue doing this, the illegal growers are going to decide to stop or go to another county.”

But according to one man, who asked the Vanguard not to be identified, his home in rural Yolo County was raided and he had valid permitting.

He told the Vanguard he had a back injury and had surgery in February of this year.  However, the operation went bad and, instead of helping him, both of his legs are numb.  “I have a lot of pain and a lot of numbness,” he said.  “So I ended up thinking maybe I could grow some marijuana for my pain.”

He hired a guy, a former vet, to help grow the marijuana.

They received a letter that alleged they grew commercial cannabis.  The letter showed up on a Friday.  He came home at 4 pm on that Friday and the letter was dated the same day as an appointment at 3:30

He called an attorney who told him that, typically, “we just represent people who have been formally charged.  Those are just allegations.  We suggest that you don’t self-incriminate yourself and you have the right to remain silent.”

He responded to the letter to let them know that he received the letter too late to make the appointment and apologized for any inconvenience.  He also provided them with his post office box number and correct phone number so that they could contact him directly in the future.

He waited to hear back from them.  On Wednesday, however, he had a doctor’s appointment.  When he left, that’s when they showed up.  “They broke my gate,” he said.  “They got my dog and put him in a kennel.  He was scared to death.

“They came and kicked in my front door to the house,” he said.  They busted into personal items like farming equipment, welding equipment, and camping gear.  “They took all the plants and left only six plants.”

He said he came home at 3:30 and these guys were there without any type of badges or identification on them.  “They’re just dressed in camo,” he said.  “It looks like they’re pretty much robbing the place.

“I confront them and say, ‘hey what the hell you guys doing here?’” he explained.  “They’re like, ‘are you the owner?’ and I’m like, ‘yeah I’m the owner.’”

They threw him on the ground.  He said he thought they were going to shoot him.

“It was a very humiliating experience,” he said.  His 14-year-old daughter, a freshman in high school, came home and saw them doing this.

They were thrashing the place, he said.  “They literally went overboard to break things.”

The guy he had hired to do the cultivation, who had been living in his trailer – they found some shot gun shells that were his and charged him with that.  Otherwise they would have just charged him with a misdemeanor.

He said, “All of this – a warrant to thrash my place for a misdemeanor ticket is ridiculous.

“There was no need for them to break all of my stuff and treat me like this, all for a misdemeanor offense,” he said.

He now feels like he has to defend himself and “prove my innocence.”

The letter was an allegation of growing the cannabis for commercial purposes.  However, he explained that he has a license that he went and applied for – a 420 medical evaluation, from Senate Bill 420 for medical marijuana, a permit that allows him to grow up to 99 plants for medicinal purposes.

He said he had 92 plants which would have put him in compliance with the permit.

They ended up confiscating his cellphone.  When he was going to cancel his cell service due to the phone confiscation he discovered that they had used Stingray technology to intercept his phone calls.

He said he discovered this when his computer was acting weird and the details indicated, “Stingray operation.  It explained step by step, exactly what it went through.”

The use of a Stingray device gained notoriety in Sacramento back in 2015 when the public defender’s office filed a motion asking a judge to order the Sacramento County DA to turn over names of clients whose cellphones were being “were secretly tracked with a high-tech and controversial surveillance tool that allowed law enforcement to collect location data from investigative targets.”

According to a September 15, 2015, Bee article, “The device’s technology mimics a cellular network’s cell tower, tricking a cellphone and other mobile devices into connecting to it. The cellphones can be identified and text messages and outgoing calls can be intercepted without the users’ knowledge. Law enforcement can then use the information to collect location data from investigative targets.”

No one the Vanguard spoke to on Monday was aware of its use in Yolo County, although at the time this issue came forward, it was believed that the surveillance tool could extend into Yolo County.

He told the Vanguard, “I think they are going above and beyond their scope.  If this was just about marijuana cultivation – why are they trying so hard to find more dirt?

“Now I have to go defend myself at court for this,” he said.  “I just don’t understand why they’re doing this to me.”

He said, “It’s very shameful what they did.”  He felt like they should have handled this more professionally and he was expecting to have a meeting with officials to clarify the situation.  Instead, he feels like “they are trying to make a name for themselves by busting ‘criminals.’

“It’s a freaking misdemeanor – I don’t understand why they did what they did.”

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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  1. Jim Hoch

    I find the below to be incomprehensible.

    {He said he discovered this when his computer was acting weird and the details indicated, “Stingray operation.  It explained step by step, exactly what it went through.”}

    1. Jim Hoch

      Not only cheaper but if you are looking for relief from an acute event why would you plant 92 MJ plants? If I burn my hand I would not mail-order some poppy seeds and wait six months for the opium.

      1. Jim Hoch

        {He told the Vanguard he had a back injury and had surgery in February of this year.  However, the operation went bad and, instead of helping him, both of his legs are numb.  “I have a lot of pain and a lot of numbness,” he said.  “So I ended up thinking maybe I could grow some marijuana for my pain.”}

        92 plants is a lot of dope. Commercial plants are typically 6-7′ high and 4-5′ in diameter at harvest.

        1. Keith O

          Since an average outdoor plant yields slightly over a pound of weed and with the cost being @$240/ounce in CA we’re looking at about a $400,000 value for that marijuana if my calculations are correct.   That’s a lot of weed to smoke in a year.

          1. David Greenwald

            One thing I don’t know is whether it was all for him or whether he had some sort of collective. If he had a permit for 99 plants, then I’m not sure what the issue is here.

        2. Paul Fullerton

          Wrong ..  not everyone can grow plants that big even the first time… I know numerous growers that averaged below a lb a plant .. second look up the Kelly decision.. it takes a lot for f plants due to what your using it for .. runs and lotions take a lot .. edibles .. I juice my buds and it takes a lot .. also you may need to grow different strains .. to make the medecine work better…

          I find it laughable that everybody on here act like they know what they’re talking about and they don’t know s— about growing or about cannabis or about the laws and I bet you they’ve never been hurt if somebody needs 200 Vicodin a month I wonder how much marijuana we would need if your pain was that bad..Before somebody post feel free to call my shop and I will fill you in on what the laws are and not what is the sub down your throat by the government or whatever you want to make up if you think you know it all

  2. David Greenwald

    Revised: January 26, 2017
    Below are questions and answers concerning current County regulations related to the outdoor cultivation of medical marijuana in the unincorporated area of Yolo County with the intent to address neighbor complaints, limit harmful environmental impacts, and protect patient access to medical marijuana. Link here to view Yolo County Code related to Medical Marijuana Cultivation.
    Is the cultivation of medical marijuana permitted in Yolo County?
    Cultivation of medical marijuana in Yolo County is currently allowed under the following conditions:
    For personal use – qualified patients (pursuant to Section 11362.5 of the Health & Safety Code).

    Requirements & Restrictions:

    • The area of cultivation cannot exceed 100 square feet, at full plant maturity, per legal parcel.
    • The 100 square feet limitation is imposed regardless of the number of qualified patients residing on the property, participating directly or indirectly in or benefitting from the cultivation.
    • Cultivation is for personal medical use only; not for sale, distribution, donation or provision to any other person or entity.

    For commercial cultivators by permit. Requirements & Restrictions:

    • Cultivation is allowed in compliance with Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board (CVRWQCB) Order No. R5-2015-0113.
    • All cultivating by CVRWQCB permit shall provide the Yolo County Department of Agriculture a copy of a submitted Notice of Intent (to obtain regulatory coverage as a Tier 1, 2 or 3 cultivator, Monitoring Self-Certification and other documents demonstrating compliance) which must be complete and have been received with full payment by the CVRWQCB no later than 5:00 p.m. on October 11, 2016.
    • Garden canopy must be between 1,000 and 43,560 square feet; cultivation by permit of less than 1,000 square feet is prohibited.
    • Must be a lessee of the property or, as of October 11, 2016 be the record owner of the property or have a fully executed sales and purchase agreement for the purchase of the property, on which the medical marijuana is cultivated, and for which the Notice of Intent with CVRWQCB was filed by October 11, 2016.
    • Participation in track and trace program required by the County.
    • Provision of written consent to reasonable on-site compliance inspections.
    • Agreement to indemnify and hold harmless the County of Yolo.
    • Those owning, leasing, occupying or having charge of the property who have been convicted of certain felonies in any jurisdiction are prohibited from cultivating medical marijuana in Yolo County.
  3. Sharla C.

    Which Yolo County entity gave him a permit to grow up to 99 plants for personal use?  HB 420 allows 6 plants and the local rules allows 6 plants.  I think other counties allow more, but he lives in Yolo County. The deputies seemed to have left the 6 allowed plants, so he has his marijuana for personal use.   He can try to prove to the Court that he is special and is allowed to have more than the rules allow.

    I don’t think that, once it is clear that there is no danger, that officers should continue use such violent tactics when citing people – breaking down doors, breaking things, throwing people to the ground, etc. for a misdemeanor arrest.  It is unnecessary, I think.  We wouldn’t allow it for our city police officers.   The Board of Supervisors should address this.  All raids should be on camera and officers need to learn how to make an arrest without escalating the situation and causing damage.

    1. Ann Block

      Medical marijuana certificates in every county allow for growing 99 plants.  I have no idea how the state arrived at that number.  I once thought that sounded like a lot, as well, before I started researching the subject due to having a client in a similar situation.  However, there is evidence and studies that many marijuana plants don’t make it through it to harvest, and vary as to how much usable cannabis is actually obtained from each plant after drying.  And many personal use growers for medical use don’t want to grow every year.  They want to harvest, dry and then have enough on hand to hold them through for a longer period of time.   Plus marijuana is still very expensive to buy, regardless of its current recreational legalization (the amounts allowed for possession for recreational use are much smaller than for medical use).  I’m guessing the problem here is that he admitted to allowing someone else to assist him with his medical grow.  Only the person him/herself or his/her caregiver is allowed to “cultivate” medical marijuana under the California statutes.  Unfortunately, the certificates provided to legitimate medical marijuana patients do NOT provide this information, which ends up entrapping legitimate medical marijuana users in committing misdemeanors or felonies (illegal marijuana cultivation is a ‘wobbler’ in Calif — can be either) which they would not have done had they known the “fine print” regarding the legalities.

      Whether or not he intended commercial use should not be imputed from the number of plants, since the number was clearly within the law for medical marijuana cultivation, and apparently arrived at for reasons other than encouraging non-medical commercial cultivation.  Plus we do have a Constitution, still, I hope.

        1. Sharla C.

          You article states that he said he has a medical marijuana permit to grow up to 99 plants.  From what California entity does he have a permit?  Explain this.  Sometimes we could use a little fact checking here at the Vanguard.

        2. JR Zonneveld

          99 Plants comes from the Federal government’s mandatory minimum sentencing. 50-99 is not more than 20 years for 1st offense. 100-999 plants is not less than 5 years.


      1. Paul Fullerton

        99 is the number because 1oo plants goes int fed lland … over 99 plants and you are a drug kingpin by old Fed rules.. the STATE made 99 plant to stay below the fed line in the sand ..

        1. Ann Block

          I have seen the official certificates that say 99 plants.  Client’s daughter called Tehama county sheriff and confirmed before client grew his 99 plants, that that was the law.  I’m sorry that I don’t have the time to find the statutory or regulatory basis for 99 — though what Paul is saying re state case law and federal law sounds plausible.  I did find the statutory basis for taking care of your own marijuana some time ago — that’s in the medical marijuana statute itself.  Haven’t read the regulations — could be there.

    2. Paul Fullerton

      The California state Supreme Court Has already ruled out this it is called the Kelly decision no local government or law-enforcement to determine the amount of cannabis need it for a patient only the doctor can it’s the same thing as a cop pulled me over and say hey Paul 50 Norco is a bug is way too much for your injury what who are you to tell me that my doctor says it is..So there’s a pre- court made a decision and it was challenged and was upheld so just like anything else cops can’t tell you what you need or what you don’t need for your medical condition only the doctor so when people say what do you need 99 plans for blah blah blah they don’t know a damn diddley dumb dumb do about what they’re talking about..There are different strains to do different things if you’re using it as edibles as Rod is juice in the list goes on too many different ways you have to use the product to make it work

  4. Alan Miller

    In the early 80’s I knew several people raided by YONET and the agency then acted like uber-macho-militaristic sadists in their tactics.  All over marijuana — illegal but still pretty accepted in California culture.  This sounds like a last hurrah for a dying agency trying to make themselves relevant.  No the guy’s story isn’t totally believable, but still the tactics described sound like the same s**t they pulled 35 years ago and all the years between.   The war on marijuana is over, save the para-military raids for the paintball course.   Make the case for illegal grows, fly a drone over to document if you have probable cause, and use fines to put illegal grows out of business.  Stop with the raids.  Or at least save them for meth labs.

  5. David Greenwald

    One thing that is clear – cannabis laws are fairly complex and clearly we need to do some coverage here to inform people about them better.  Paul Fullerton’s post on the Kelly decision is critical to understanding how medical cannabis works and why the number of plants is higher than you might think and still not evidence of wrongdoing.

  6. Sharla C.

    David, so far you’ve covered a person claiming to have a religious exemption and now someone claiming a medical exemption from following state and local laws.  Why did we bother voting on any proposition or having any local rules at all? Next we’ll have someone saying that they have some special reason to open a 5th dispensary in downtown Davis against the City’s wishes.

    1. David Greenwald

      “now someone claiming a medical exemption from following state and local laws.”

      That’s not an accurate portrayal of this issue. This individual IS following state and local laws. Or at least claiming to.

  7. Howard P

    Somewhat off topic… freshman year, met another freshman who worked for a Truckee area FD… they were putting on a ‘controlled burn’ to show the ‘electeds’ how they did things… they found cannabis near the site… they used a spray pattern on the fire to create steam/smoke (so electeds, management could not see them)… they cut the cannabis, and stuffed it in any place they could find in the equipment bays… they split it, later… he ended up with a six month supply for his own use… the year was 1972.

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