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Roger Mentch will continue the Hemporium, LLC. a Professional Caregiving Service

Sentencing for local medical marijuana provider Roger Mentch, took place May 2, in the chambers of Superior Court Judge Samuel Stevens. Nearly two years ago, the Santa Cruz County Sheriffs drug task force raided the Felton home of Roger Mentch, managing director of the Hemporium, a medical marijuana consultant and delivery service, with about 20 clients.

The prosecutor who tried the case, Thanh Ngo, argued for a 150 day jail sentence and demanded the DA's office retain all evidence, particularly the cash seized by sherrif's deputies. Judge Stevens handed down, a 5-day jail sentence, giving Mentch credit for time served, and summary probation for 3 years. He was also ordered to pay $220 in court costs. Throughout the hearing, Judge Stevens repeatedly stipulated Mentch could continue to operate his marijuana deliveries, saying, "If he wishes to conduct himself under the law, he will not be in violation of probation."
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Laura Elridge, a client since February 2002, was at Mentch's house during the early morning raid in June 2003.
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Here is the full report from V-Man.

Rockin' the Boat: Medical Pot Provider Gets Leniency
http://santacruz.indymedia.org/newswire/display/17604/index.php
 
 


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Re: Roger Mentch will continue the Hemporium, LLC. a Professional Caregiving Service

First and foremost I want too thank eveyone that has played a part in supporting me/us in this medical marijuana battle.
We are very happy with the verdict, timed served and probation and a $220 fine. A different outcome could of easily distroyed this family unit and the service we provide for many local patients.
After my sentencing today I signed documents starting the appeals process. I am now considered a felon which I do not like, let alone removing my 2nd amendmant rights to bear arms.
Who better to possess a gun then a Veteran of this country.
 

Good Report--Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

Thanks to V-Man and Bradley for the compact and useful media coverage.


I believe the probation is formal probation (rather than, court probation). Which means, as I understand it, that Roger is vulnerable to search anytime anywhere.

While Roger and friends were pretty happy about the sentence (no jail time), it still leaves unsettled the question of why Mentch was prosecuted in the first place to the tune of $80,000 in public funds (or so says Mentch) and if he can be prosecuted again for selling medical marijuana to patients with medical marijuana cards.

Stevens didn't clarify just what would make the next prosecution less valid than the last one.

He did strongly caution D.A. Thanh Ngo that not selling medical marijuana was NOT a part of his probatiojn condition and that it could be done legally.

What was never clear to me (perhaps someone can enlighten me?) is what was illegal about what Roger Mentch did in 2003 that prompted his eightteen month ordeal.

With the closing of the Pacific Coast Cooperative in Santa Cruz on Pacific Avenue, Mayor Rotkin's empty promises to "reexamine" current City law, the growing attacks on medical marijuana in San Francisco and Santa Clara, and the silence of WAMM (City Council's posterchild medical marijuana group) in the Mentch and PCC cases, watch out.

The County is considering "zoning regulations" for limiting cannabis distribution centers. Beware of a Rotkin-Fitzmaurice copycat ordinance at the county level.

Now is also the time to demand of D.A. Bob Lee a full accounting of how much the Drug War is costing us IN THIS COUNTY, HOW LONG the sentences are, HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE IN JAIL for drug possession, use, or sales charges, and WHEN THE COUNTY IS GOING TO DEMAND MEDICALIZATION OF THE PROBLEM instead of the lethal blanket Prohibition that is ruining thousands of lives in this County (and millions nationally).

Hats of to Roger Mentch and the small (much too small) group of folks who came forward to support him.

Shame on Stevens, Lee, and even the Public Defenders office---for not coming out with a blanket condemnation of the drug war. If PDs struck and refused to represent Drug War cases, it would shut down this deadly machine.
 

The fight for medical marijuana continues!

Congrats to Roger Mentch on his light sentence, and continued ability to operate the Hemporium. Congratulations also on filing the appeal, which my ultimately, reverse the two felony convictions.

What was DA Bob Lee doing by prosecuting this case in the first place?

Why did the jury (or ANY jury in Santa Cruz County) convict a medical marijuana provider???

As for Valerie Corrall and WAMM not weighing in on the closing of the PCC, sadly she has.

On V-man's Rockin' the Boat show, Valerie Corrall called Peter Koch, proprietor of the now closed PCC "a silly man". Not exactly supportive.

She supports the city's medical marijuana ordinance of 2000 which has prevented any distribution center from opening in the city since it was passed.

Medical marijuana patients shouldn't be treated like pariahs and banished to the nether corners of the city just to get their medicine. Why can't we have a dispensary in the downtown area of Santa Cruz.

Corrall's attitude is "I got mine. You get yours" which is pretty darn arrogant when you realize that she was in the back room in 2000 helping to write this ordinance which grossly limits the rights of medical marijuana patients to safe and legal access to their medicine. In fact, the ordinance is currently preventing patients from getting their medicine.

Valerie, shame on you!
 

Shame on you BECKY JOHNSON

Shame on you Becky. Concretely what have YOU done to provide medical marijuana to ANYONE? How dare you? Its fine to debate but you just sling mud and distort, and complain, but DON"T REALLY DO ANYTHING CONCRETE.

I don't agree completely with Valerie's view. But I respect her and the incredible work of WAMM.

Here is a rush transcript of the relevant discussion on my show.

Valerie: "We are not a dispensary. We grow marijuana collectively, we provide all of our own products and, we give marijuana away on a weekly basis."


Valerie on the Pacific Coast Coop:

"Thats too bad he opened up on Pacific, silly guy."

V-Man: "The city came in and closed it down?"

Valerie: "oh. well, no. you know, it was interesting. he handed me a flyer a few weeks ago. I had met him, and I went Pacific? You're not on Pacific (Ave) are you? and he went, 'yeah' and i said, well why? didn't you read the ordinance, and regulations, and he said, 'yeah' and he just did that....

Theres a disparity. I do think the regulations ought to be revisited, that its time to look at the regulations, to revisit the regulations, to look at those and to expand the area in which people can use Medical Marijuana... and, provider associations can open up their doors. Really important to do that, but I also think, right downtown, on the Pacific Garden Mall. This is a tourist town. The troubles that have been seen in all the other cities where this has happened, have been around that large sense of exposure. so, it seems to me, that, why would you come into a city and start an argument, instead of coming in saying, 'how can we make this work?' This is a really great city to live in, the city, the county is really supportive, in opening provider organizations, its not that hard to do, you just can't scalp people, which is fine.... but we do need more buyers clubs. There is one buyers club in Aptos, we do need more competition. its healthy, it keeps the prices down i would hope. it hasn't worked that well in the Bay Area... I hope for better understanding, and I would think in this community we should be able to arrive there."
 

We Need Everyone in These Hard Times

"To sling mud, distort, and complain" is an unfortunate way of dismissing a lot of legitimate criticism about Valerie Corall's thundering silence around the city's medical marijuana "ban".
Or perhaps it reflects strong feelings and personal animus about Becky--whose views on other subjects the V-Man (and I, for that matter) do not agree with.

It's hard to pin down the specifics facts of this issue, but part of that is because Corall has not been forthcoming and media (both mainstream and alternative) has been complicit.

Perhaps I'm not remembering, but I don't recall the V-Man's examining this issue at any time throughout the last five years.

Criticism of Corall's special-interest status in Santa Cruz has been taboo because of her just fight against the feds (which we all support).

But the job of good journalists and good activists is to go where others dare not and raise issues that others consider beyond the bounds.

V-Man performed a service by getting Corall on the air and affording us an opportunity to confront her with some long-smoldering concerns.

Becky has regularly exposed the criminal government conspiracy (local, state, and federal) against the community on the marijuana issue in her Community TV show Club Cruz and as producer of my own twice-weekly radio show on Free Radio Santa Cruz.

She, like the V-man, was there supporting a public understanding of the Mentch case. Both Becky and V-Man are valuable community assets.

As for Corall, I believe she needs to use her considerable prestige and power to assist the thousands of medical marijuana users (and tens of thousands of marijuana users--for that matter) who suffer under the City's bad drug laws and the D.A.'s abominable Drug War.

To her credit, Corall has returned three of my phone calls since the show (the first time in five years this is happened--and I think we can thank the V-Man's show for this where she publicly committed herself to returning calls).

In spite of repeated calls, Valerie has not found the time to schedule an interview.

We might grow old waiting. In the meantime I encourage us to turn our sights on the 5-year long ban on medical marijuana clubs in Santa Cruz (the Rotkin-Mathews-Fitzmaurice law that has effectively prevented any clubs from opening) and general community solidarity that we'll badly need if the Raich decision comes down for the Prohibitionists.
 

We need a dispensary in the downtown area

"The troubles that have been seen in all the other cities where this has happened, have been around that large sense of exposure. so, it seems to me, that, why would you come into a city and start an argument, instead of coming in saying, 'how can we make this work?" -- Valerie Corral

BECKY: What "trouble" is she talking about? Other cities that allow distribution centers don't ban them from the downtown area. THAT restriction is unique to Santa Cruz and driven by our paranoid merchant mentality. Corral is hypocritical as well. Remember, WAMM operated out of a Front St. location for about 2 years. Her own experience shows that its the proper location for a dispensary, and near the bus station is a plus.

As for "How can we make this work?" Valerie should know by now the ordinance she helped draft, and one which WAMM has yet to even apply for a permit to operate under it, DOES NOT WORK!

The PCC had to open technically in violation of the ordinance---and spent a reported $50,000 of personal investment to open its doors at the current site. Rotkin is unashamedly unconcerned where legitimate marijuana patients are to get their medicine. Corral tells them to go to Aptos?

And Corral calls the owner of the PCC "silly?"
V-man attacks me for pointing out these obvious facts.
 

Re: Roger Mentch will continue the Hemporium, LLC. a Professional Caregiving Service

This is a very interesting debate. I don't understand why everyone is so upset with Valerie, have they forgot that she helped draft the ordinance that the city is operating on to allow medical marijuana in the first place?
or that when she was operating out of Front St. it was still not a buyers club?
or that when they wrote the ordinance with the city (if anyone commenting has read it) they agreed to not have dispensaries downtown and outlined specific areas where co-ops could be loccated in? (if you want this document, go into city hall and ask to make a photocopy of it, 10 cents a page- its worth it to check your sources)
or that the fact that she called the owner of the dispensary downtown a silly man for the simple fact that he failed to notify the city of his activities and told them he was a consulting company, then proceeding to make a story in the Metro about how he's the new co-op in town (which people have come to use as a dispensary under the injunction that WAMM has). if he was trying to remain underground, and break city laws that he supposedly read, why would he publicize so widely?
there is no reason to personally attach Valerie for not returning your phone calls or interviews, she is a integral part of a co-operative of dying patients waiting to see if their medicine will be legitimated on the supreme court. a little caught up to say the least.
she's helping the movement leap forward, there is no need to attack her for her lack of support to each battle. she's fighting her own wars.
 

Examining R.A.'s Reflections

R.A.-- In response to some of your comments:

"she helped draft the ordinance that the city is operating on to allow medical marijuana in the first place."

Indeed. But the City allowed medical marijuana for 8 years before that, but immediately after the drafting of that ordinance the only club in town was shut down and no new clubs have opened in the last five years. Valerie's law is the problem. Valerie's support for the law is the problem. Valerie's silence in the face of this situation is the problem.

"when she was operating out of Front St. it was still not a buyers club?"

Some wonder if the point of the ordinance was to set in stone Valerie's preference for collectives over buyer's clubs. Perhaps she can clarify for us just what role she had and why--if she knows--all other medical marijuana providers were excluded?

"when they wrote the ordinance with the city (if anyone commenting has read it) they agreed to not have dispensaries downtown and outlined specific areas where co-ops could be loccated in?(if you want this document, go into city hall and ask to make a photocopy of it, 10 cents a page- its worth it to check your sources)"

Who "agreed" not to have dispensaries downtown? Certainly not the broader medical marijuana community,as far as I know. The point is that dispensaries have, as a matter of practice, been criminalized everywhere in the city. If you call the Planning Department, you'll find that one group has been trying for six months to get a permit, without success so far.

"the fact that she called the owner of the dispensary downtown a silly man for the simple fact that he failed to notify the city of his activities and told them he was a consulting company, then proceeding to make a story in the Metro about how he's the new co-op in town (which people have come to use as a dispensary under the injunction that WAMM has). if he was trying to remain underground, and break city laws that he supposedly read, why would he publicize so widely?"

As I understand it from the Pacific Coast Cooperative folks, the Good Times (not the Metro) where the story appeared, was about to break the story anyway. Also Koch and Hilliard (the PCC operators) may have had some idealistic notions about believing that Rotkin and his fellow hypocrites on City Council actually mean what they say about supporting medical marijuana. Koch and Hilliard said they hoped that, having established a good record with the neighbors, police, and patients, they would be accepted. Not by Rotkin and his gang of bureaucrats, I'm afraid.

"there is no reason to personally attac\k Valerie for not returning your phone calls or interviews, she is a integral part of a co-operative of dying patients waiting to see if their medicine will be legitimated on the supreme court. a little caught up to say the least.
she's helping the movement leap forward, there is no need to attack her for her lack of support to each battle. she's fighting her own wars."

I think this issue (of why medical marijuana isn ot legally available in Santa Cruz) is important--and important to folks beyond the 200-300 patients Valerie is serving. I also think she needs to follow up on the impression she's given that she is open to public discussion on this issue. Otherwise folks might get the mistaken impression that her claim of accessibility is a PR pose.

Valerie, and Andrea Tishler, and Anita Henry, and the other medical marijuana providers throughout the state all need to be supported in their fight against the feds. (And in the case of Roger Mentch, against the local D.A. and judges)

If, however, their collusion with local authorities is blocking access to medical marijuana here in Santa Cruz, they need to be challenged. Publicly and persistently, until the situation changes.

My hats off again to those who opposed the prosecution of Roger Mentch. Perhaps WAMM or Valerie made supportive comments publicly or wrote letters--but I didn't hear of it. Did you?

By the way, R.A.--in the way of full disclosure--what's your association with WAMM?
 

Re: Roger Mentch will continue the Hemporium, LLC. a Professional Caregiving Service

What's up--

In response to your comments..

"only club in town was shut down and no new clubs have opened in the last five years. Valerie's law is the problem. Valerie's support for the law is the problem. Valerie's silence in the face of this situation is the problem."

Okay, Valerie is not the only person that wrote that ordinance. It is not her law. It is not even a law, it is an ordinance. She is only one person responsible for what she needs to do. There is no need to martyr-ize her.

"all other medical marijuana providers were excluded?"

anyone can be involved if they choose to be.

"Who "agreed" not to have dispensaries downtown?"

The city council, county board, and the drafters of the ordinance. I was not here, but I'm sure if you wanted to you could have been involved if you were legitimate and not so angry.

" Not by Rotkin and his gang of bureaucrats, I'm afraid."

I dont know Mayor Rotkin well, but he is a supporter of the ACLU Drug Law Reform Project and does support marijuana, although I am unsure as to how close the ties and awareness were seeing as how they were shut down completely (all of a sudden?)

"important to folks beyond the 200-300 patients Valerie is serving."

I wholeheartedly agree, and there are other legislative things going on if you are in the right circuits which it sounds like you are.

" Publicly and persistently, until the situation changes. "

how are you doing this?

"what's your association with WAMM?"

i dont think that's any of your business. If i wanted to tell that, I would have already. What is your association/affilation/hatred based on? Do I know you? Why are you choosing to post your thoughts about Valerie on the internet rather than to her face or in some way towards WAMM and not the general public? I dont' understand the internet sometimes.

Happy posting. I wonder if anyone reads this besides you and I.
 

Re: Roger Mentch will continue the Hemporium, LLC. a Professional Caregiving Service

"I wonder if anyone reads this besides you and I."

many people read and publish (to) Santa Cruz Indymedia.
 

Rebuttal

R.A., Thanks for your thoughts, however much we disagree. I think you are sincere, but misinformed.

City ordinances ARE laws; those who violate them are subject to arrest, prosecution, fine, and imprisonment.

If the Coralls were the only careproviders allowed into the inner counsels in 2000 that made the law (and it is my understanding that the lawmakers effectively excluded others). Considering her silence over the last five years-- it is "her law" in that sense.

I was around when the law was cooked up behind closed doors and rubberstamped, and according to others involved in the process, it was exclusionary--except for the Coralls. It was also taken up after 11 PM at night as an emergency ordinance, making public input particularly difficult (though I suspect it would have been disregarded, as it has been in the five years since). To suggest the law had real public process (other than the pro forma slide through City Council) is uninformed.

Rotkin's membership on the ACLU Board of Directors emphasizes all the more vividly and ironically his hypocrisy on this issue (as on issues of community control of police, open public process at City Council, and civil rights for the poor). Not to mention the hypocrisy of the local ACLU generally. Search for "ACLU" on this website to read more analysis of their indifference to local abuses.

Rotkin and the Council have made no attempt to address the current medical marijuana "ban" in Santa Cruz. The point of this discussion is to generate pressure on them to do so. Give them a call at 420-5020 to get their side of this issue--if they bother to call you back.

In five years, Valerie Corall has declined to address this issues publicly. My invitation to come on Free Radio and discuss it with me is still open. When people in positions of power stonewall, it's appropriate to call them on it. That's the purpose of this discussion on the internet.

The Coralls are well-established nationally famous careproviders. It is a scandal that they colluded in the current situation and continue to largely remain silent on it.

I think I'm repeating myself.

Since this is a Roger Mentch thread, I encourage folks to continue this dialogue on a new thread if they want. Also check out "Letter to D.A. Bob Lee" for more discussion the Drug War locally.
 

Re: Roger Mentch will continue the Hemporium, LLC. a Professional Caregiving Service

Hey Roger, Keep your head high and the fight going!! I'm Jaimy's other half. I met you at the Safeway in Felton. I hope you enjoyed the Trainwreck. If you want to get together to medicate and talk. Emfail me at my yahoo account.I check it every couple of days. Once you email me there I'll get you my home acount. robertwillard3 (at) yahoo.com

Robert Willard; your partner, in the fight for patient rights!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 

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