January 08, 2007
Laura McCaul, San Francisco Bay Guardian
Four years after she was first arrested, Stephanie Landa turned herself in to authorities last week to begin serving her three-year sentence for maintaining a warehouse for growing medical marijuana. A raid by law enforcement swept up Landa and friends Kevin Gage and Tom Kikuchi in 2002.
Five months prior to the raid, Landa, Gage, and Kikuchi met with local police officers to discuss how to cultivate the plants while complying with the law. She told us at the time that San Francisco police assured her they wouldn't cooperate with federal law enforcement officials.
After receiving assurances that they would not face trouble, the growers set up their warehouse only a couple blocks from the Hall of Justice.
"The story that Stephanie tells is very chilling," Sup. Chris Daly said at a press conference for Landa on the day she turned herself in. "We are under the impression that we're a sanctuary city." Daly said police should either refuse to cooperate with federal drug raids or actively protect local growers.
While voters legalized growing and possessing medical marijuana in 1996, the feds say they can still prosecute growers and suppliers under federal drug laws. Despite San Francisco's self-proclamation as a "sanctuary" for medicinal marijuana, the SFPD worked with the feds to bust Landa.
"I think this is immoral and unconstitutional collusion," says Allison Margolin, Landa's attorney. "The state has had a chance to shut down the medical marijuana law, but they didn't do that. It's a really sick thing, and I don't think we want our government to act this way."
Landa's sentence was deferred so she could take care of her son until Kikuchi, the father, returned from prison. Margolin is currently appealing Landa's sentence.