Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Medical Marijuana Activist Darren McCrea Fights The Power In Spokane

After a raid last year, (covered here on Reality Catcher), medical marijuana advocate/caregiver Darren McCrea's legal troubles continue in Spokane, where the local police clearly aren't cutting him any slack at all in a program of harassment that has lasted for years.

On Monday McCrea, 41, pleaded not guilty to seven marijuana-related felonies in Spokane Superior Court, according to KXLY.com. Police raided his home 14 months ago after months of investigation triggered, cops say, by a tip that McCrea was "selling to anyone with a medical permit," according to a probable cause affidavit, Spokesman.com reports.

With a doctor's medical marijuana recommendation, it's legal in the state of Washington to possess up to 24 ounces (1.5 pounds) of marijuana and up to 15 plants. The five people to whom McCrea is accused of selling all have Washington medical marijuana cards. At issue in the case is how the law defines caretakers permitted to provide medical marijuana to patients.

“It’s created a great deal of confusion and more questions than answers,” Deputy Prosecutor John Grasso told the newspaper. “Unfortunately, I think we’re going to have to sort through the confusion and questions with prosecution.” Hmm... sounds a lot like a "Bust 'em all and let God sort 'em out" approach. Way to reach out to the community, prosecutor!

Prosecutors maintain it's illegal to sell marijuana to multiple customers and that's why McCrea, a prominent and vocal medical marijuana advocate, could now face prison time. SpoCannabis is a non profit organization dedicated to helping medical marijuana patients safely obtain their medicine, according to McCrea.

In 1998 Washington passed a law allowing people with "terminal or debilitating illnesses" to possess and grow marijuana. Former logger Steven Delgado has battled three different types of cancers and legally uses marijuana to treat his nausea and increase his appetite.

"I'm a big guy, I need to keep the weight on and it's helped me significantly to do that one simple thing. I don't understand all the fuss, medicine is medicine," Delgado told KXLY.

If Delgado was too ill or otherwise unable to buy or grow his own marijuana state law also allows a caregiver, like Darren McCrea, to find it for him.

However when Spokane police started watching McCrea they say they saw him selling to multiple patients instead of just one.

"The way the statute was written is vague, it says that you can only supply to one person at a time but it doesn't define what that is," McCrea's attorney David Miller said.

Spokane police say McCrea was selling to so many medical marijuana patients that they found $32,000 in cash and five pounds of pot in his home. However McCrea supporters insists he's more interested in ending pain and suffering than turning a profit.

Friends and SpoCannabis volunteers attended McCrea’s arraignment Monday to show support for a man they described as a hero. “Darren provides support and education for people like me,” said cancer patient Delgado. “I almost feel like I’m on trial. It upsets me that Darren's in the situation that he's in when he just wants to help people and I believe in what Darren does," Delgado said.

Members of Spocannabis and other supporters of safe access for patients say without caregivers like McCrea seriously ill patients will have to buy their marijuana off the streets. "It will force medical marijuana patients to seek to get their medical marijuana from unscrupulous sources," attorney David Miller said. "Is that that going to benefit Spokane? Is that something we need to have happen?"

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