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California was the first of the United States to legalize the medical use of marijuana in 1996. As a result, outdoor medical marijuana gardens are a staple in the state, especially in northern California counties. Over the years, there have been many cases in which medical marijuana grow operations have been raided even though they were operating compliantly under California state law. In these situations, gardens are destroyed and growers may be prosecuted. In recent years, these raids have become few and far between because the majority of growers operate strictly under state rules and regulations, and the federal government publicly stated that raids would not be conducted on operations abiding by state laws.

After a recent incident, one medical marijuana grower in Mendocino County, Susan Schindler, is wondering if a federal raid was ordered on her outdoor medical marijuana garden. She described what sounds like a scene from an action movie, involving men dressed in camouflage and masks repelling from helicopters to destroy all the marijuana plants in her garden. Susan was home during the attack. She asked the masked men to identify themselves, but they refused. Schindler reported that the men showed no form of identification, no warrants were presented, and no explanation given for the destruction of her property.

Many people, especially growers, in Mendocino County are demanding information, but have received zero clues as to the identity of the vigilantes out to eradicate marijuana growth throughout the county. The local authorities deny any involvement in the destruction of Schindler’s garden because when law enforcement conducts a raid, identification and warrants are provided. Schindler suspects that a security company by the name of Lear Asset Management may be behind these clandestine operations because of the company’s promotional claims of working with law enforcement officials. Lear denies any involvement in the destruction of Schindler’s grow operation. When Mendocino County Sheriff, Tom Allman, was asked about Lear Asset Management, he denied any involvement with the company, stating that “the sheriff’s office does not hire private security guards to go out and do our job.”

A particularly disappointing fact about this mystery raid was the that the plants destroyed were all low in the psychoactive cannabinoid, THC, and high is the medicinally valuable cannabinoid, CBD. CBD is a key cannabinoid valued in the treatment of many medical conditions such as glaucoma, epilepsy, and cancer. Schindler explained to news channel, KPIX, that the plants destroyed had no street value because they would not even get a person “high.” She also stated that she was compliant with the legal amount of crops permitted for harvest, which was 25 plants per parcel.

The identity of the vigilante crew remains a mystery because none of the suspects claim involvement. If these raids on innocent growers continue, someone has to be held accountable. The men conducting these raids are heavily armed, and refuse to identify themselves. This is not appropriate under federal law.

photo credit: egroll

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