Photo: Santa Rosa Press Democrat
Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman: "We are, of course, supportive of legitimate medical marijuana here."
By Jack Rikess
Toke of the Town
Northern California Correspondent
The Coming of the New Prophet
Rikess: Last time we spoke in August of last year... (See Toke of the Town's 2010 interview with Sheriff Allman here.)
Sheriff: Seems like yesterday...
Rikess: (laughs) I know and still...you don't write and you don't call...
Sheriff: (laughs) Okay...
Rikess: So last time I was here, you said something that was incredibly right on. You said that there was going to be very little difference between George Bush's administration and Obama's, when it came to medical marijuana. You said that someone big in the attorney general's office sat in the chair I'm sitting in and said, and I'm paraphrasing, "He guaranteed me that it was going to be the same under Obama as it was with George Bush. In the end, Eric Holder will handle medical marijuana the same way [the] George Bush [Administration] did."
Sheriff: It wasn't Eric Holder. It was a U.S. attorney. The chronological order was, the U.S. attorney came up here and said, (this is definitely under George W.), saying, "ummm, the U.S. government will not get involved with any marijuana cultivation, distribution, what-ever-you-want-to-call-it, that falls within the boundaries of California's medical marijuana."
Okay, thank you very much. And, you know, he took his dog and pony show and went somewhere else.
Then the presidential election happened, okay. Then in the primary or maybe it was before the general election, Obama just mentioned something about medical marijuana.
Rikess: I have the quote. [Regarding federal raids on medical marijuana facilities in states which have approved its use, Candidate Obama said,] I would not have the Justice Department prosecuting and raiding medical marijuana users. It's not a good use of our resources.
Sheriff: Then all the people started, "Oh my gawd, the prophet has arrived. Y'know, he's here!" And then after he won the election and took office, Eric Holder came out and said, "The U.S. government will not get involved in any violations that fall within the state guidelines." People are going "That's brilliant, that's wonderful! Thank you sooo muuuuch!"
And those of us in law enforcement are going, "Huh?" It wasn't even any different wording [than the George Bush people used too], it was the same, um, so I tell people that on a regular basis, not to be criticizing Obama at all, because...
Rikess: When I was here last, a little positive that things were going to change surrounding medical marijuana and you set me straight with...again I'm paraphrasing, you said to me, "Whatever you think is going to happen with Obama, there's going to be very little change between George Bush's administration and Obama's, when it comes to medical marijuana."
And at the time, I thought you were wrong. And you were...1000 percent correct.
Sheriff: Only because...honestly...What I really try to do is get down to the root...no pun intended... of where we're going on this.
Y'know... I've heard many times in my career that our United States constitution is a living breathing document. Y'know, when you're a kid you go, "Really? Well, I've been watching it for five years and it just sits there." And you don't understand the depths of a living, breathing [document, then it changes] ...such as, what happen to the second amendment a few weeks ago.
Guns and Cannabis
Photo: Herald Democrat
Rikess: What's new with the 2nd amendment?
Sheriff: Well, what happen was there were some pro-gun people in the Bay Area. They were going to Starbuck's with unloaded guns on their hip, fully exposed, because it wasn't a violation of carrying a concealed firearm, because it was exposed. And it wasn't a violation of carrying a loaded firearm in public because it was empty. And because they were pushing the envelope so much, yesterday the California Legislature said, "Ixnay, no, you can't do that."
And one of the things the 9th district just said was, and I don't agree with...is...Sheriffs absolutely have the right to say, 'no,' to concealed weapons.
Rikess: Does that mean, you judge who has the right to carry a concealed weapon or not?
Sheriff: Yeah. But now the law allows the sheriff of the county or the chief of police, to issue concealed weapons permits. In Mendocino County we're really weird...Okay?
Rikess: You're preaching to the choir brother.
Sheriff: [Laughs] Monty Python was...uh...born here, okay, maybe not born here but conceived here.
We are, of course, supportive of legitimate medical marijuana here. But we're also very supportive of concealed weapons here. Due to the recent population shift, I'm down to 87,000 people and I have 2,400 concealed weapons.
Rikess: How many?
Sheriff: 2400. Here's the best news...25% of those 2400...are females. Jack, that's great stuff right there.
Rikess: Because they're not threatening like men?
Sheriff: No, because I want women to be able to protect themselves. The former sheriff said, "Tom, as sheriff of the county, you have the legal ability to empower someone to take care of their own personal safety." Wow, that's some pretty heavy words there.
Rikess: Okay my next question is...it seems like violence has increased here in the last year...
Sheriff: A very specific type of violence... Other violence hasn't, road rage hasn't, child abuse hasn't [increased.]...
Rikess: But why would you want to introduce more guns into the community? What benefits you by doing that? [I say] the more guns [you introduce] into the community, some of those guns don't find their way back to where they're supposed to.
Sheriff: Right. So I have 2,500 concealed weapons approximately out there with people who have gone through the 16 hour course, they've been finger-printed; they've paid a total of about $300. They've been interviewed by my command staff. I've reviewed their file. Now out of those 2,500, seriously Jack, I want you to really think about this one, on an annual basis, how many people with concealed weapons get in the eyes of law enforcement because of they're carrying a concealed weapon.
Rikess: I would say a very small percent.
Sheriff: Three a year, when I say they come on the radar of law enforcement, it's not because they're brandishing a fire arm. When they come up on the radar [it is usually because of what's written] on the bottom of the concealed weapons permit. It says, "Not valid if under the influence of alcohol or drugs." We have probably about three people per year who get arrested for DUI that have their concealed weapon and we say, you were illegally carrying a concealed weapon.
Rikess: Do you feel, are you supportive of the use of concealed weapons in America? Let's say in Arizona? Arizona where they can bring 'em into bars and such.
Sheriff: Well, I disagree with Arizona's policies, because their screening is not as serious as what I just said we go through.
Rikess: So you're saying guns in your point of view is a little like medical marijuana, it's up to the states and the locale to work out the . . .
Sheriff: Concealed weapons, fire arms, are a states' rights issue, so much so, that right now, this is scary, Utah is saying, if we manufacture guns in Utah, if we sell guns in Utah, ATF has no legal authority to restrict what is made and sold in Utah because there's no state borders that are crossed. You know what? They're right! Oh my god, it's pushing the states rights issue all the way up the line!
I got off topic. Because you're here to talk about Medical Marijuana.
Rikess: And also, I'm here to talk about violence.
Sheriff: Ok, let's talk about violence.
Rikess: What are your thoughts on a 31-bullet clip and amour-piercing bullets?
Sheriff: Well, I mean there are limitations. Do I believe there is a need to prevent armor piercing rounds from entering the public? Of course I do.
My question for the average NRA member is, and I'm a very pro Second Amendment person: "Tell me where the line is." I say, we start with a bb gun and we go to a nuclear bomb of weapons. Where is the line of what a citizen can have? Is it a nuclear bomb?"
Of course not, that's crazy. Alright, well, we're getting somewhere, you know, Let's get down to a grenade, what about a grenade? And then we get to machine guns, what other...
Rikess: Their fear is that, and just like the marijuana people, if you take away their 31 [bullet] clip, you're going to come after something else next.
Sheriff: Is there a slippery slope? The difference between gun ownership, I believe, and medical marijuana, is gun ownership is clearly defined in law. When I send a deputy out on the street, and he finds a gun that could be illegal, he can look in his book and say, what's the law, it is illegal. And I'm taking you to jail. However, when he goes out and stops a car with 20 pounds of marijuana in it and the guy has a recommendation from a doctor that says he can have 20 pounds of marijuana, he goes, "Oh".
Rikess: Well my response to that is we [as a society] understand guns but we don't understand marijuana.
Sheriff: Okay, I'm gonna change that... in my opinion... We as a society have grown up with guns since the Revolutionary War.
Rikess: ...[You're saying] Incorporated guns into our lifestyle...
Sheriff: ...Since you know we beat the British. And marijuana has always been..."Shhhh." It is only in the last few years we've been able to talk about it openly.
Da Feds and Those Damn Black Helicopters
Rikess: In the last three weeks, the Federal Government has really amped up their busts and how they are treating the medical marijuana industry...
Photo: The Fix
Rikess: San Francisco. San Jose. The state of California. The weird thing is north of Cloverdale, all of a sudden, you guys are getting your stuff together. You're doing cooperatives, dispensaries, and paperwork. [Still] A lot of people are not feeling good because they don't trust the Feds.
Sheriff: Sure, okay. Whatever. And let me make sure I read this to you...
[The Sheriff reads the agreement of the collectives, ending with the phrase, "This does not give me [the collective] immunity from prosecution under Federal law."
Rikess: Yes, we get it.
Sheriff: We have to say that.
Rikess: Sure, we can say that here. Even joke about it. We want to bring more people into your permitted zip-tie program. We're trying to get people out of the shadows and say, "The time is right to come out."
Sheriff: Sure, that's what we've been saying too.
Rikess: Well, the same thing goes for your people. Your people are freaking us out.Your people are raising the bar with what it takes to come out. You've asked the growers to let go of 40 years of bad blood between the law enforcement and the growers. We know you're a cop and you answer to authorities higher than us.
Sheriff: No, I don't. Please don't say that. The voters are my boss.
Rikess: My point is, you just don't answer to the growers but all the citizens of Mendocino. With that being said, this 'Operation Full-Court Press,' The War on Drugs,...The war...
Sheriff: ...Please don't use the War on Drugs, it's not a good analogy...
Rikess: I disagree, what is it then?
Sheriff: The War on abusers of public land.
Rikess: Or how about another way to spin it, this a revenue stream for you guys...
Photo: Democratic Underground
Rikess: This is a revenue stream for you guys to create a false war on drugs by saying there are cartels in these national forest when they may be just the same as the other opportunist who are heading to Mendocino to get in on the 'Green Rush,' just like the Russians, Israelis...
Sheriff: Bulgarians, Germans...
Rikess: Right, so I'm saying that these Mexican growers in the forest might be just like those people, and not necessarily a cartel, but more in the vein of the other opportunists who come here. We also know when you find 10,000 seedlings in the National Forest; there is some organized syndicate behind it. Those grows take a lot of people to run. Whether it is a cartel, disorganized crime, or a group of gangsters, we're not saying they are angels, but they might not necessarily be the Mexican mafia cartels as they are being painted in the papers and news.
Sheriff: Okay, okay...Let me boil this down for you...Number one, you've never heard me use the word, 'cartel,' other than to correct people to never use the word, cartel. 'Cause I've never said the word 'cartel,' in that sentence. What I say is...organized crime.
Rikess: Okay, we know there is ...a certain build-up going on in Mendocino...
Sheriff: Okay, let's talk about those black helicopters...The Blackhawks...
Sheriff: The Blackhawks... Why are they here?
Rikess: Okay, let's start there. Were they here?
Sheriff: They were here, two of them.
Sheriff: They were here. Why were they here?
Rikess: Should I tell you what my people say?
Sheriff: We did a press release on this but go ahead...
Rikess: I tell you what my people say...Homeland Security is here and they're not leaving.
Sheriff: Oh well...wait, your people are right.
Rikess: Huh? Really?
Sheriff: So, why are they here?
Sheriff: You didn't answer my question.
Rikess: Cause they got their foot in the door...
Sheriff: ...Really? Of what?
Rikess: ...I tell you what...What they are doing here is....They are equating what is going on here, with terrorism. And if they can equate it with terrorism, then they got Homeland Security. And if Homeland Security can get a foothold...
Sheriff: C'mon, Jack. [Laughs at Jack's logic, shaking his head] The drugs of the Sixties were too good.
Rikess: ...Let me finish...Then you can tell me where I'm wrong...
Sheriff: ...You're wrong already...
Rikess: Okay, when you can equate the organized crime going on in our national forest with terrorism, once you can do that...You can win the hearts and the minds of the people and then you guys can get as much money as you need to do your job. It starts getting to be about money. And this is a smokescreen to amp up the war on drugs, which we are trying to deflate and change, and you guys are doing business as usual. And this is a revenue stream. The war on drugs doesn't work, and you guys don't know it.
Sheriff: I'll send you a bill for counseling...'Cause you got a lot of stuff off your chest... And the three words I've heard from my wife many times -- I've been married 26 years -- You are wrong.
And it's very basic. You are wrong.
Rikess: To be very clear, tell me exactly what I'm wrong about.
Sheriff: Do you know what revenue we're getting? Do you know what money we're getting?
Rikess: Yes, I read about it...I got it here. [Jack pulls out article detailing the Sheriff's budget.]
Sheriff: No, no, stop. Don't have a preconceived notion of what my budget is...
Rikess: I have the answer here...
Sheriff: No you don't, because you don't know the question.
Rikess: Sorry to cut you off, [checks notes] but you guys received $236,000...
Sheriff: That money is only going to be used to reimburse Mendocino County for the cost associated with overtime and logistics for this operation.
Rikess: So was I right?
Sheriff: If the Federal government said, "Tom, we have $236,000," and I don't know if that is the correct figure...
Rikess: It is, roughly.
Sheriff: "...We have $236,000 and it is yours, but are you going to use it for marijuana or methamphetamine? I would be out of that office in a thirty second because I would answer one word, "Methamphetamine."
Rikess: That's what we want too! To change the focus...
Sheriff: First of all, Blackhawks. The Blackhawks were not transporting soldiers or law enforcement other than the pilot was a military guy. They were transporting biologists to Lake County, and environmentalists, because they were doing reclamation of some of the older gardens that were not covered with snow...
Rikess: Couldn't you say, "Boys, couldn't we get a couple of nondescript helicopters in here because of as soon as you bring in black helicopters, my people are going to get paranoid."
Sheriff: Oh Jack. Tell me what the price of a helicopter is? Tell me what the price is? I can I tell you? If I got a helicopter the size of a Blackhawk that can transport stuff and lift up stuff. I'd have to pay around $2,000 per hour. Y'know the price that military helicopter cost me?
Rikess: You're talking logic. I'm talking about Mendocino people. When you have these Blackhawk military helicopters landing, people are going to talk.
Sheriff: As far as Blackhawk helicopters go, I can't afford other helicopters. I can't afford them.
Those helicopters were doing reclamation in Lake County and the national forests. They were really and truly improving the quality of land when a Lake County sheriff's sergeant, two weeks ago...didn't even know the Blackhawk helicopters were there. He's driving up to the national forest to do good, sees a van on the side of the road. Gets out of his car, watches three Mexicans with guns run into the bushes. Gets one Mexican with a gun and takes him into custody. Finds probably a thousand dollars worth of water fittings. I don't know if I could fit a thousand dollars of water fittings in this room? Okay?
And so...was the Blackhawk helicopter involved? Were they involved with the enforcement action that day? Of course they were! But we can't predict what is going to happen? Are there going...
Sheriff: Hold on; let me ask the question you're going to ask...
Sheriff: Are there going to be Blackhawks this summer in Mendocino? Absolutely there are... [Editor's note: This was about a month before this year's eradication effort, Operation Full Court Press began.]
Rikess: Are there going to be Blackhawks in Covelo?
Sheriff: Of course there are. I cannot afford other helicopters.
Rikess: Are you saying this is a government thing? That in the rental pool, all you got to choose from is those darn Blackhawks?
Sheriff: Yeah, Air National Guard. This is what they got.
Rikess: So you're saying if there was another helicopter to choose from, you would? That you don't have another choice.
Sheriff: I don't have choice. Air National Guard. This is it.
Rikess: So that's your answer.
Sheriff: That's it. They are taxi cabs. They'll be used for transport of some of the Federal officers...
Photo: In The Pines
Rikess: One more question. I have reports of drones being seen in Covelo.
Sheriff: Those reports are wrong.
Rikess: Just one more time. The people who reported this to me, didn't have pictures, [so I don't have proof] but there are all these people worried, and part of the reason I'm here is to defuse paranoia, and I trust you, Tom Allman.
[Sheriff Tom Allman stands and retrieves a picture of wife and kids.]
Sheriff: This is a picture of my family. I'm going to put my right hand on the picture and say, "From the bottom of my heart, nobody on god's green earth has given my any information that there is unmanned aircraft patrolling any part of this county."
Rikess: Okay, I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't ask this question. Would they keep you out of the loop so you wouldn't have to answer questions like this?
Sheriff: No, that would seriously damage the relationship between local and federal government.
Rikess: Third thing... then I'll leave it. Would you tell them [the federal government] that you are adamantly against drones being used anywhere in my county?
Sheriff: Okay, let's talk about that before I say that...
Photo: Business Insider
Sheriff: When this program first started, I asked about drones. Because the purpose of intelligence gathering, is to find out where in the national forest...there's a hotbed of activity. Okay? In other words, where people are? So...drones may be the right answer. And I thought it was a legitimate question and then I was clearly told by the FAA. Drones inside the political boundaries of the United States of America, are illegal, except for on the American-Mexican border. I can't fly drones even if I wanted to.
Rikess: That's great. That is the most concrete logical answer. So we can say if there ever was actually a drone within this area...that would be illegal activity. So it wouldn't happen.
Sheriff: Period. End of statement.
Rikess: We want people coming out. We want to be able to trust, I don't know if that's the best choice of words...to trust the Sheriff's Department...That when they [the growers who will register] come forward...it's going to be okay for them...
Sheriff: ...And all of that's true right there...All of that's true.
Rikess: That's not true [for some]. Some people said, "I came out in 2008 [registering and doing the paperwork for the zip-tie program, e.g. giving the police department my name and that I'm growing] and when it didn't happen in 2009 (the program was suspended for that one year and has functioned every year since), I got very scared." And I'm crossing my fingers for 2010, and now, 2011, and hopefully, 2012.
Sheriff: We didn't bust any of those people, did we?
Sheriff: Sounds to me like its working, huh?
Sheriff: The Five Percenters...
Sheriff: Here's the Tom Allman's unofficial survey. Five percent of the population believes...if you have a marijuana cigarette, marijuana seed, marijuana plant, you should go to federal prison for the rest of your life. Okay, five percent of the population on the other side believe... You can do anything you want with marijuana, heroin, any natural drug... Smoke it until your head caves in.
I have learned through my 29 years of law enforcement, there's nothing I can say to those two outlets at this point to get them to change anything. All they want to do is try to change me and harden my stance, one way or another. So I've come to the conclusion... I hardly listen to these people. [But] The 90 percent in the middle...The ones who want to make change, all right.
Rikess: And that's what I'm doing here today, representing the 90 percent... Y'know...We...
Sheriff: ...Can't we all get along?
Rikess: Well, more so than that is...We've stuck our necks out supporting you...
Rikess: You don't owe us anything for that...
Sheriff: (Shakes his head)
Rikess: But, we want things in return...And...and...we understand as the Big Cop, you can't always give us things we want, like when we say, we don't want you to smash the Mom and Pop's on the way to the big grows....
Rikess: That can't be guaranteed.
Sheriff: Here's what I will guarantee...
Rikess: Okay. I think I got a scoop.
Sheriff: There will be no 25-plant gardens eradicated this summer. I think that's a really, reasonable guarantee.
Rikess: I had this conversation with somebody last night and I was unclear with this...with 25 plants, they don't need to get it permitted. [Editor's note: You still need a medical marijuana card in order to grow.]
Rikess: Right...So what they told me is...They can be hassled by your deputies for up to three hours to determine [if they have a doctor's recommendation]...So I said to someone...is it beneficial for you...someone to get the permits...the zip-ties on your 25-plant garden?
Sheriff: You're confusing permits and zip-ties...Just to let you know. You don't need a permit to get 25 zip-ties.
Sheriff: You just need cash.
Rikess: Sorry. And I said, is it worth it for you to get zip-ties on your 25 plants for peace of mind?
Sheriff: Yep, that's it.
Rikess: They said yes because lot of times, these helicopters will come into our compounds, they look around, if they see the zip-ties, they just take-off.
Sheriff: Isn't that amazing?
Rikess: I say that is incredibly amazing.
Rikess: That is just amazing. And it's progress.
Sheriff: Last year probably the biggest marking tool we had is when a guy got stopped by one of our law enforcement officers, who is one of the most aggressive against marijuana going...[this guy] was stopped with thirty thousand cash [on-board and he told the officer that he was part of a permitted cooperative.] On his cell phone, the officer called Sergeant J. to inquire if the stopped gentleman was indeed part of a legitimate cooperative? Sergeant J. said, "Yes, he's permitted." And the guy and his cash were allowed to continue southbound. And that word got out... One step further.
Marijuana Is Sexy
Rikess: Alright. I'm going to end with this...
Sheriff: All right. The hardest question of the day. (Tom in an announcer's voice) "Ladies and gentlemen, could you please stand-by for the hardest question of the day."
Rikess: This isn't even the hardest...this is...Why is...Why is this thing so god-damn confusing?
Photo: Stop Pop Culture
Sheriff: Let me tell you why... One of my goals has been to take marijuana off the front page. So now the question is...Who wants to take it off the front page?
Because...Or... How about this? Who doesn't want it taken off the front page? And who doesn't is... is a longer list than who does. Because the media does not want it off the front page. Marijuana is sexy. Marijuana is just... everyone wants to read about marijuana. Whether you're pro, con or whatever...
It is on the front page. You want to read it. It is on 60 Minutes. You want to look at it.
All these things -- it's sexy.
Second thing of why it is confusing... In my humble opinion, there are so many nuances to 9.31, that we had radicals, and that's a strong term I rarely use, from both sides...Those five-percenters, okay? [And they] pick and choose what they're talking points are...and they use those talking points... And 90 percent of the middle says, "What about this?" When they're trying to have an educated argument.
And the five percent who say, "You shouldn't ever have anything." Here are their talking points: Number one, "Because the Federal Government says it is illegal." [And above these growers] "These people don't pay taxes. You and I pay taxes. These people should pay taxes."
For the other five percent... [The Sheriff uses his holier than thou voice] "It's a God-given herb. Why can't you let us have it?" Then they'll start to use the alcohol thing. You know what? Radiation is God-given element on this Earth. So I'm surely not going to agree with what their talking points are. If these people keep throwing their talking points out there to confuse the mix, and all I say...and all these 90 in the middle says, "You know what? I think we can come up with a happy medium. So we are. We're coming up with a happy medium.
Find Your Own Solutions
Rikess: A person has asked me to ask you this. Someone is growing 25 plants on a parcel...
Sheriff: And they end up with 100 pounds...
Photo: Science Daily
Rikess: No, just the opposite. This person is growing with a collective because he or she can't grow on their property or cannot be part of a 99-plant grow, and is under the umbrella or part of cooperative that is growing 25 plants. There's 12 people part of this collective.
At the end of the season because of bugs, mildew, theft, what have you, and for my readers, this is a legitimate operation. At the end of the season things don't go right for these people. Now then there are 10 plants for 12 people.
The people who are trying to grow their own marijuana are down to one and half plants each. And in six months' time, they're searching out for other...means to grow marijuana. It isn't realistic...
Sheriff: Well, it is actually...If they're from the northern part of the county it's realistic because the plants we eradicated out of Laytonville were seven pound plants. But go ahead...
Rikess: Okay. We want to understand that you do realize 25 plants for 10 people is unrealistic. We understand it is advancement. We understand it is a first step. Then there is this Kelly law which I don't understand because it seems it directs the answer to that question but it never answers that question directly. Tom, do you know what I mean...
Sheriff: Keep talking. I know exactly what you are saying...
Rikess: So, you're doing the best you can. Some people can't get into the 99 plant because of water, electricity, blah, blah, blah. Some can't grow for whatever the reason, so they grow with a collective. So like I said, they are forced to seek out other means to grow this medicine.
So the plan has a hole in it. If the plan is to be realistic, and we're not with that five percent that says, let me grow as much as I need, for as many people...There has to be regulations...But do you understand where we're coming from...
Sheriff: Number one, let's get off straight. You ask me a question. Don't I realize that 25 may not be enough? Well... Listen, if it was up to me, a lot of things would change in this world. But the world according to Tom is not what fills up law books. Okay? So... Do I realize that? I realize that...however; let me tell you why I'd throw the bullshit flag on this if someone wanted to challenge me in public on this.
Okay, there's 12 of you. I want to make sure there's 12 of you. Yeah. This is 25 plants per parcel. This is per parcel. Are you saying between the other 11 of you, there is no other place to grow it?
Sheriff: Because I would follow by saying...Remember when I told you about the one-percenters? The single digit percentage of people who are legitimate? That means there is a double-digit high percentage of people who are illegitimate. And they just waiting for someone to come to them and say, I have a recommendation, I have cancer. And I don't have a place to grow.
And they go, hallelujah. I've legitimized my marijuana. Please come on in! And they welcome them in. And they take care of it.
All you have to do in a marijuana community is talk to other people and you can take care of your problem. But if you want to lay awake at night and find a kink in the system, hell, you can do it. These 12 people, I'm going to say, have not ventured out to find out what they can do. I don't know of any real situation that you just said, unless the people cannot venture out and cannot figure out what to do...
Why Permits Work
Rikess: When it comes to the purchasing of permits and zip-ties, I've encountered two schools of thought from growers who are coming forward. One belief is they do it for civic pride and peace of mind. That once they're permitted and legit: they've done away with the local law enforcement intangible. There's another school of thought that's more cynical, that calls it blood money. They believe it's what they have to pay to law enforcement to grow their medicine. What do you do with the money you make from permits and zip-ties?
Photo: News Junkie Post
Sheriff Tom Allman has been supportive of medical marijuana patients who go by the rules.
Sheriff: My business shows that if I have a hundred of these files, I've collected $600,000 from these people. The rules state that the money I take in can only be used for what impacts this office. People think that this money goes to just keeping on deputies or that it is some kind of revenue stream. By law, I can only use this money for what impacts this office. I could give you a lot of figures, real numbers that would stagger your mind. Okay?
Marijuana impacts Mendocino County. And we're just not talking medicinal, okay? So from April 20th to October, marijuana impacts this county greatly, not to mention the rest of the year, but spikes during this period. That's what this money is used for. To try to keep up with the bad guys and do right for the good guys, okay? Again, we support legitimate medical marijuana. Everything costs money.
The money I've taken in so far only reimburses about a third of my expenses. Again, I'm operating on the same size budget that the Mendocino County Sheriff's office had during the LBJ era.
Remember, some of the most vocal opponents to marijuana in Mendocino County complain that these marijuana growers don't pay taxes like the rest of us good folk do. The money from permits and zip-ties silences that argument.
So I have this business plan, you take money in and you also understand that with the money comes that obligation... We're trying to do the right thing for all residents of Mendocino County. So far we've found a pragmatic solution that seems to be working. And what we're going to do is... everything we can do... to protect the legitimacy of the operation.
Packaged Marijuana Good, Live Marijuana Bad
Rikess: I don't know if you know about this...What am I saying? You know everything.
Sheriff: You mean that ticket you didn't pay in '88? I know all about it...
Rikess: Wow, you're good.
Sheriff: I know it...
Rikess: I had to change my name to get out of that...So...Joy Greenfield.
Sheriff: Oh, yeah, okay.
Rikess: I want to hear it from the cop's mouth.
Rikess: This is what my people tell me...
Sheriff: (laughs) My people? My peeps?
Rikess: Sorry, I just love saying that. (Both laugh) And again, I want to be really clear. I represent no one.
Sheriff: Okay...Joy Greenfield...
Rikess: Okay, here's the deal up here...is Joy Greenfield got busted.
Sheriff: Yes...By? Finish the sentence...
Rikess: And she got her crop taken...
Rikess: Not returned...
Rikess: Hey, hey, hey.
Sheriff: How can you return grown marijuana?
Rikess: It was told that it was a bad bust and it should be returned. And the people up here say, "What we do is, because we do not want to accrue legal expenses, we take the loss with the weed..."
Sheriff: Cost of doing business.
Rikess: Cost of doing business, right? They say she should have got her medicine back.
Sheriff: ...By the federal government?
Sheriff: I'm not aware of the federal government ever returning marijuana.
Rikess: They do.
Sheriff: THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT?
Rikess: The federal government.
Sheriff: Happens all the time?
Rikess: Not all the time...but on busts...that are inappropriate...
Sheriff: I'm assuming... when they return it...they're returning the package processed product, not the live plant. Because we take those out and destroy them.
Rikess: I didn't know that...
Sheriff: And its unknown how we destroy them...No one knows that...It's unknow
Rikess: What do you mean?
Sheriff: Well...I'm not telling you...
Rikess: You mean besides for burning them in the backyard?
Sheriff: We don't burn them...
Rikess: Okay...Can we do 20 questions? Number one, do they go into a container?
Sheriff: No. We destroy them.
Rikess: How do you destroy them?
Sheriff: In the accordance of law.
Rikess: C'mon tell me...
Sheriff: C'MON, JACK!
Rikess: No, this is cool. How do you destroy marijuana? What could you possibly do different than incinerate it?
Sheriff: Okay, you're talking to Tom Allman. So how would Tom Allman...?
Rikess: Encase all that seized marijuana in a thick glass box with glue all over it... So you can have those... those hippies look at stuff that they could never touch... And catch the ones that do touch it.
Sheriff: This isn't for public dissemination. Stop the tape recorder and I'll tell you...
(tape recorders stops)
[The Sheriff tells Jack one of Mendo's biggest secrets.]
[Tape recorder comes back on.]
Rikess: You were worried about me writing about allowing the Vets in your jail to celebrate Veteran's Day with a BBQ while dressed in their uniforms. Nothing happened with that and that was published...So why I don't come out with how you get rid of marijuana?
Sheriff: I can't.
Rikess: But Tom, you do so many good programs here. You should come out about them.
Sheriff: BREAD'S my favorite.
Rikess: What's that?
Sheriff: When I took office, I was walking through the jail ...And I went into the kitchen...I created a baker's program. The inmates learn how to make breads, cakes, pastries, mostly their learning a trade. So now we're up to 16 [accredited bakers] and we had one guy come back, but we put him right back into the Bread program, because...he's a good inmate.
Rikess: Alright. I'm going to end with that...Thanks a lot.