In the ongoing legal mess that surrounds the California medical marijuana laws, the federal government is currently prosecuting five residents of Ridgecrest in connection with a medical marijuana dispensary.
Last week, the US Department of Justice reported the arrest of the Ridgecrest residents for allegedly selling marijuana to Navy employees working at the China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station after an investigation that involved both the Ridgecrest Police Department and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.
In a case where the accused may have thought their actions were legal, DOJ officials say medical marijuana is not a recognized defense under federal law.
According to a US Department of Justice press release, 27-year-old Erik Christopher Stacy, 52-year-old Robert Davis Dodson, Jr., 38-year-old Charles Lee Kisor, 29-year-old Charles Edward Klaus, and 36-year-old Geoffrey Edward Bliss, were charged with conspiracy to manufacture and distribute marijuana and manufacturing marijuana. Officials report the seizure of over 1,000 marijuana plants along with several firearms seized after officers served search warrants at the homes of the defendants.
The criminal complaint against Stacy indicates that Ridgecrest Police investigations led to a local bank where money that reportedly smelled of marijuana was deposited in the account of a business called B&C Natural Things.
When Police investigators went to B&C Natural Things, Kisor denied selling marijuana, and Stacy explained that there was a suggested donation to cover costs of growing the marijuana.
The complaint also alleges that prior to the visit to B&C Natural Things, agents used a confidential informant to buy marijuana from Stacy at Stacys home on two occasions. In the complaint, agents report that during the first buy one of the accused made a reference on tape to owning a co-operative and it being, legal.
The conflict over the federal prohibition of marijuana vs. the state laws that allow marijuana use for medicinal purposes has gone on since the law first passed in 1996. In 2009, US Attorney General Eric Holder said that the Federal Government would not prosecute patients and caregivers who are complying with state medical marijuana laws. He also said that prosecutors will continue to go after drug traffickers who hide behind claims of compliance with state law to mask activities that are clearly illegal.
Given the size of the operation and the possession of firearms alleged, DOJ officials say that the prosecution is in line with Department of Justice policy.