'SLO 12' hits bittersweet milestone
December 28, 2011
Matt Fountain, New Times SLO
Members of California’s largest medical marijuana advocacy group mounted a protest at the San Luis Obispo County Courthouse to commemorate—albeit reluctantly—the anniversary of the county’s largest raid on medical marijuana providers to date.
After a year, a majority of the defendants from “Operation Green Sweep” have yet to make it to trial, thanks to a series of legal wranglings over multiple cases that hang on state law.
On Dec. 27, members of the local chapter of Americans for Safe Access (ASA) wielded signs reading “STOP Medical Raids Now” and “DA Shea: Drop the charges against ALL of the ‘SLO 12.’” Though protester turnout was significantly less than at a similar demonstration held during the defendants’ arraignments in the first days of 2011, the organizers weren’t dissuaded.
“It’s hard to get people to come out early on a Tuesday morning in 38-degree weather right after Christmas, but we’re glad for the support we’ve gotten,” said Rich Donald, chairman for the local ASA chapter.
In December 2010, the now-defunct San Luis Obispo County Narcotics Task Force arrested 12 local residents in several dramatic raids on private residences following a local investigation of mobile medical marijuana delivery services.
Law enforcement officials alleged that the people arrested weren’t following the law as defined in the 1996 voter-approved Proposition 215, or the Compassionate Use Act, because they were accepting money for the marijuana they provided. The arrestees claim they followed the legal guidelines drafted by then-Attorney General Jerry Brown.
Peter Miller, one of the “SLO 12” defendants, attended the Dec. 27, 2011, protest. When asked how the last year has affected him, Miller told New Times, “Where do I start?”
“I’ve got a lot of anger and a lot of stress,” he elaborated. “I’m trying to stay afloat, but every month that goes by I find myself a little deeper in the hole. But I’m going to have my day in court.”
Trials for Miller and other defendants from Operation Green Sweep are scheduled to begin in late January, but Miller said with the pace set thus far, he’s not holding his breath.