Couple Busted for Pot is Turned Over To Feds

January 15, 2004

Josh Richman, Oakland Tribune

(Friday, January 16, 2004) An Oakland man who went to state court this week to mount a medical defense to marijuana charges was instead handed over to federal authorities, who have filed charges that could put him and a co-defendant behind bars for the rest of their lives. David Davidson, 52, an Oakland Cannabis Buyers Cooperative member, and Cynthia Blake, 53, of Red Bluff, are to be arraigned today by U.S. Magistrate Judge Gregory G. Hollows of Sacramento.

They're charged with manufacturing more than 100 marijuana plants and conspiracy to cultivate more than 1,000 marijuana plants. The former is punishable by five to 40 years in federal prison; the latter by a mandatory minimum of 10 years and a maximum of life.

William Dolphin, spokesman for Berkeley-based Americans for Safe Access, said Davidson and Blake are a couple, and he was at her home when police raided it July 29, seizing a few dozen marijuana plants. Information gained in that raid provided police probable cause for a warrant to search Davidson's Oakland home, where more marijuana was found.

Davidson and Blake both have doctor's recommendations to use marijuana as medicine, as required by state law, and Oakland Cannabis Buyers Cooperative medical director Dr. Michael Alcalay went to Tehama County Superior Court in Corning on Tuesday to testify on Davidson's behalf.

But Tehama County assistant District Attorney Lynn Strom unexpectedly announced the state would drop its charges against the pair, and she and the pair's lawyers went into a judge's chambers to discuss why.

When they did, Tehama County Sheriff's deputies -- acting on federal authority under a local-federal drug task force's auspices -- arrested the pair on the federal charges, issued last week by a grand jury in Sacramento.

Americans for Safe Access is urging activists to stage demonstrations at noon today outside federal office buildings to protest the arrests, which ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer called 'utterly outrageous.'

Sherer cited a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling last month that found federal officials should be temporarily barred from treating California medical marijuana patients as criminals. 'And now they are tricking defense attorneys to separate them from their clients. How many rights have to be trampled before we fix this?'

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