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SF medical marijuana advisory group member faces charges in Sonoma County

  1. Terrapinzflyer
    The west Sonoma County barn fire that destroyed a marijuana cultivation operation and led to the arrest of three people has ensnared a member of the medical marijuana advisory group to the San Francisco District Attorney.

    Joseph Erich Pearson, a co-founder of a cutting edge marijuana cooperative in San Francisco, is scheduled to appear in court Friday to be arraigned on three felony marijuana charges.

    Pearson, 34, and two others were arrested Monday in connection with a large outdoor marijuana garden found on rural Mays Canyon Road property in the hills above Guerneville after the barn it was contained in burned down.

    Advocates say the garden was for marijuana sold at the San Francisco non-profit club and was believed to be legal under California medicinal marijuana laws.

    A Sonoma County sheriff’s sergeant said detectives had probable cause for the arrests based on suspicious evidence from the scene.

    Detectives were told of the medicinal marijuana connection and the investigation is continuing to determine the status of the garden, said Sgt. Steve Gossett, who supervises narcotics investigations.

    California law does provide for collective marijuana gardens, said Sonoma County Deputy Prosecutor Scott Jamar. But a legal question for such an investigation includes whether any of the marijuana was being sold for profit, which is illegal, Jamar said.

    Pearson, Alexander Pearson, 33, believed to be his brother, and Timothy Crites, 32, are due together in Superior Court in Santa Rosa.

    They currently face possible prosecution on felony charges including cultivating marijuana and possessing marijuana for sale.

    The case could help highlight the seemingly murky laws and inconsistent prosecution of medicinal marijuana cases in California.

    “This whole thing is about the fact that (Sonoma) County has yet to regulate safe access for medical cannabis patient cultivation,” said Robert Jacob, proprietor of the Peace In Medicine Healing Center dispensaries in Sebastopol and Santa Rosa.

    “Cultivation has become more and more of an issue in the county. I’m hoping this will help broaden the need to come up with something,” Jacob said.

    Sonoma County’s law enforcement leaders currently are reworking their countywide regulations for medicinal marijuana, said Sebastopol Police Chief Jeff Weaver.

    The chiefs have set some regulations in recent years but as the voters, laws and judicial interpretations have evolved, police agencies have made changes.

    “It’s a very difficult situation for law enforcement,” said Sheriff’s Capt. Matt McCaffrey. The cases are “so individual in their nature, you have to look at each one in particular.”

    Sheriff’s investigators learned of the garden Sunday night following the barn fire. The barn had housed an indoor marijuana garden and an overloaded electrical circuit from lamps for the garden probably sparked the blaze, officials said.

    Joseph Erich Pearson owns the property. The outdoor garden there had 934 plants, from seedlings to four feet.

    Jacob said his understanding was the Mays Canyon garden provided product for the San Francisco Patient and Resource Center, a non-profit agency started in 2001 by Pearson and others as a group of small collectives serving low-income medicinal marijuana patients.

    “I’ve worked with him trying to implement medicinal cannabis regulations throughout the state on multiple projects,” said Jacob. “I think he’s a great leader in trying to provide access at low cost for patients.”

    Among his Bay Area and statewide efforts on the topic, Pearson is one year into a two-year appointment to the San Francisco District Attorney’s Medicinal Marijuana Advisory Board.

    Neither Pearson nor his co-defendants could be reached for comment.

    Prosecutor Jamar said he couldn’t speak to this case as it remained under investigation.

    But he said the District Attorney’s Office isn’t looking to prosecute legitimate medicinal marijuana users or producers.

    Prosecutors focus on people using medical marijuana laws as a shield to engage in nefarious behavior, including making large profits from sales, he said. “That’s the audience we target.”


    By RANDI ROSSMANN
    THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
    Published: Wednesday, May 11, 2011

    http://www.pressdemocrat.com/articl...y-group-member-faces-charges-in-Sonoma-County

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  1. Terrapinzflyer
    Possible marijuana link to Sonoma County barn fire

    A large barn in the remote hills above the Russian River that officials believe contained a marijuana operation was destroyed by fire Sunday night.

    Sonoma County sheriff's deputies were investigating the Mays Canyon Road site on Monday, said Sgt. Steve Gossett, narcotics investigations supervisor.

    Firefighters Sunday night found the building collapsing in flames. They also found empty fire extinguishers on the ground, leading them to conclude that someone had tried to fight the the flames out but then left the fire as firefighters were heading up the hill, said fire officials.

    No one was present to talk to firefighters about what had happened, said Monte Rio Chief Steve Baxman. And someone had locked a gate to the property, which firefighters had to cut through to get to the fire, said Forestville Fire Chief Dan Northern, who also responded.

    Baxman and Northern said the 35-foot by 45-foot barn had apparently been ablaze for some time before firefighters were called. Crew arrived about 11 minutes after being dispatched.

    For a building that big to be so far gone, “it had been burning for quite a while,” said Northern.

    Firefighters had difficulty reaching the site. Mays Canyon Road connects to Pocket Canyon Highway and winds into the hills of the west county. Fire trucks were maneuvered carefully along the narrow, steep road to get to the fire, said Russian River fire Capt. Travis Wood. Once off of Mays Canyon, crews drove on dirt roads.

    Russian River firefighters were joined by Monte Rio, Forestville, CalFire and Graton agencies. About 20 firefighters responded with six engines and water tenders. Dispatch records showed Baxman was first to arrive, within 11 minutes of the 9:14 p.m. dispatch.

    Larger vehicles took a little longer, with a couple engines arriving 22 minutes after dispatch. Other engines arrived at about 10:05 p.m.

    Wood said no one was injured. Firefighters were there until about 1 a.m. Firefighters said it was not immediately clear who owns the property.

    The cause of the fire Monday remained under investigation.


    By RANDI ROSSMANN
    THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
    Published: Monday, May 9, 2011

    http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20110509/ARTICLES/110509475/1350&tc=ix
  2. Terrapinzflyer
    [IMGL="white"]https://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=20237&stc=1&d=1305660583[/IMGL]Men linked to marijuana operation in Sonoma and S.F. in court

    Prosecutors on Friday postponed filing charges against three men linked to a west Sonoma County indoor marijuana garden that supplied a medical pot dispensary but which detectives claim was used to sell pot for a profit.

    Joseph Erich Pearson, 34, co-founder of a cutting edge San Francisco pot club appeared in court Friday for the first time with co-defendants Alexander Pearson, 33, and Timothy Crites, 32.

    The men were arrested Monday following a barn fire that destroyed a cultivation operation on Joseph Erich Pearson's Mays Canyon Road property in the remote hills above the Russian River and led deputies to investigate the plants.

    [IMGR="white"]https://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=20235&stc=1&d=1305660583[/IMGR]Friday morning in court, Judge Ken Gnoss asked Sonoma County Deputy Prosecutor Scott Jamar if he needed more time before filing charges against the Pearsons and Crites.

    “I imagine it will take some time to investigate this case,” Gnoss said.

    “It will take at least 60 days,” Jamar said, to receive a full investigation report from the Sonoma County sheriff's narcotics unit and then review the case.

    Gnoss re-scheduled an arraignment hearing for 8:30 a.m. July 19.

    The men, all out on bail, will be represented by private attorneys.

    [IMGL="white"]https://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=20236&stc=1&d=1305660583[/IMGL]Pearson, who goes by his middle name Erich, stood before the judge in a pink dress shirt, blue vest and boat shoes beside his attorney, Jim Hammer. Pearson is in the middle of a two-year appointment to the San Francisco District Attorney's Medicinal Marijuana Advisory Board.

    Hammer is a former prosecutor with the San Francisco District Attorney's office who prosecuted a murder conviction in a high-profile fatal dog mauling case. Hammer is also an on-air legal analyst for the FOX News Channel.


    By JULIE JOHNSON
    THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
    Published: Friday, May 13, 2011

    http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20110513/ARTICLES/110519736?tc=ar
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