It's the first case of it's kind in Butte County. Three members of a marijuana collective, raided last year, pleaded "not guilty" today to the felony charges against them. Eight dispensaries in the Chico area were raided June 30th.. Mountainside Patient Collective was one of them. And although the three who appeared in court today are the first to face charges, the District Attorney's office says they won't be the last.
Jason Anderson, Michael Anderson, and Kaitlin Sanchez are facing several felony charges for providing medical marijuana to patients in Butte County. They are the three members of the Mountainside Patients Collective, one of eight dispensaries raided last June.. And the first to appear in court.
"The legislation that allows collectives and cooperatives is very clear that you can only cultivate. You cannot sell, you cannot distribute," District Attorney Mike Ramsey says.
According to Prop 215 marijuana possession and cultivation is allowed for personal medical use only, and by no means is it available for sales.. Even if its labeled a 'non-profit' by the collective. It also states that only seriously ill patients have the right to medical cannibus. Those with cancer or aids for example. "Seventy percent of their membership was under the age of 30.. These are supposedly seriously ill folks," says Ramsey.
Bay Area cannabis activist Mickey Martin is a personal friend of the Andersons. His argument...What about those who are unable to grow medical marijuana themselves. Like those who are too ill or living in apartment complexes with not enough space. "People who do live in apartments, do count on collectives and other people to grow their medicine for them because there's just no space," Martin says.
Martin also believes the time and money spent to prepare for the raid could have been spent elsewhere. As he says, instead of attacking these medical providers. "There's a lot of people who need this medicine and the people who are willing to stand on the front lines and provide it, don't deserve to be dragged through court.."
But in the coming months, the D.A.'s office plans to file several other charges against others involved with the dispensaries raided last summer. Ramsey says, "They have a sham legal existence. They're selling marijuana. They are really nothing more than marijuana stores."
The Mountainside Patients Collective trial date has been set for September 26th.