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Charges? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Charges!

Charles Edward "Eddy" Lepp and his wife Linda Senti own a farm in Upper Lake, California, with a sign out front that reads, "Eddy's Medicinal Gardens and Chapel." Nestled up against the Mendecino National Forest at the lower edge of the Emerald Triangle, they're very open about growing high-grade medical marijuana on their farm. On August 27, 2002, DEA agents and members of the Lake County Narcotics Task Force raided the farm while Lepp and his wife were away in San Francisco. Although the DEA claims its agents confiscated 266 nearly mature marijuana plants, "There are no pending federal charges against this gentleman or his wife," US Attorney in San Francisco spokesperson Debbie Young told this writer. Lepp, an ordained minister and Vietnam veteran, is the first person to have been arrested, tried and acquitted under the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, better known as Proposition 215, for growing medical marijuana in California.

It is a mystery to many how the feds can justify their recent spat of raids on medical marijuana growers as they are not pressing charges in most cases even after finding large quantities of pot. It would appear that if a warrant were issued for a search and illegal contraband was recovered, arrests would be forthcoming, but in many recent cases in California this has not happened.

For other unfortunate victims of capricious federal anti-drug warriors, it's worse, in that some are facing raids and charges for ridiculously small amounts of pot that the locals not only know about, but condone. Steve McWilliams, who gave out free medical marijuana to patients from the city hall steps in San Diego on September 17, in protest of yet another chargeless raid- this one against the Wo/man's Alliance for Medical Marijuana in Santa Cruz on September 5- was given a warning letter by DEA agents, then had DEA troopers show up to destroy his 25 plant garden within a week. "This guy is violating the law and he's flaunting it. He brought this whole thing on himself," DEA spokesperson Donald Thornhill, Jr. told the San Diego Tribune.

"If you voice your opinion and assert your rights, then you become a target for the DEA? That's unfortunate," said Allen St. Pierre, Executive Director of the NORML Foundation. "The idea is that he?s ?flaunting it? by simply asserting his rights under state law and under the 1st Amendment. If That's the kind of criteria, then judges and eventually appeals court panels should hear these cases on the basis that it sound like selective prosecutorial misconduct." McWilliams is now facing a 5-year mandatory minimum prison sentence if convicted as a result of this raid, combined with charges just now levied by the feds for another raid back in 1999 on the Shelter from the Storm Cannabis Collective, which McWilliams helped organize.

These DEA actions are disturbing to many people, patients and public officials alike. San Jose, California Police Chief William Lansdowne recently pulled his officers off their assignments to the DEA's High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area task force, a cooperative narcotics law enforcement effort between local, state, and federal officers, saying his officers have more important things to concentrate on, like methamphetamines. California Attorney General Bill Lockyer, who supports and even voted for the Compassionate Use Act, sent a letter [Download free Adobe Reader here] to DEA head Asa Hutchinson and US Attorney General John Ashcroft, saying, "I must also question the ethical basis for the DEA's policy when these raids are being executed without apparent regard to the likelihood of successful prosecution," after the DEA raid on the Wo/men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana.

That was just one of Lockyer's "concerns, that the feds were making more political statements without really intending to carry the case through," said Hallye Jordan, spokesperson for Attorney General Lockyer. "That was sparked by the Santa Cruz raid. That was the one he was most concerned about because local law enforcement was totally unaware of it, not involved and uninformed. At this point, because there are no state-wide standards, the Attorney General has encouraged communities to get together, the law enforcement, the health professionals, the medical marijuana advocates, city and county officials, and put together a plan, whether it's how many plants would be covered as for medical purposes, or what sort of identification card would be appropriate, to just come up with their own way to meet their community standards. You know, some guidelines for implementing Proposition 215. And in fact, That's what the case was in Santa Cruz. The clinic there was sanctioned by local law enforcement and city officials. They were all working together. It was all working out just the way we?d hoped it would be lacking the state-wide standards." DEA chief Hutchinson's reply [Download free Adobe Reader here] to Lockyer's letter addressed at length the Supreme Court ruling that Congress has decreed marijuana to have no currently accepted medical benefits, but did not address the vindictive raiding by federal enforcers without subsequent charges.

We had the opportunity to speak with Lepp and his wife over the course of a couple days this week, about the raid at his place, what he plans to do about it, and a number of other topics too, in an interview which we now post here.

Eddy LepP- I first started using marijuana over in Vietnam. I won't go into details, but they had some amazing shit over there. Smoking allowed me to keep myself well. Later on, I would kind of smoke it socially but I was drinking heavily for years. Then in about 1987 or 1988, something like that, my Dad got cancer. He underwent 14 major operations in about 14 months. After getting out of the hospital, he lived about another year before he died. During that year, he was living on Ensure, the protein drinks. The only way I could get him to drink the stuff was to roll up a big old fatty and shove it in his tracheotomy tube. One of my fondest memories of my father is him walking around with a big fatty I rolled stuck in his trach tube choking down his Ensures. That's when I first got involved with it in a medical aspect. My daughter was a caretaker for a young gentleman who got AIDS back in the beginning of the AIDS epidemic when it was truly a terrible thing and they had no control over it at all. Through him, I was introduced to Dennis Peron. A while later Dennis came up with this wild, hair brained idea which ended up being Proposition 215, [The Compassionate Use Act of 1996.] When they started gathering signatures, I got involved and helped gather signatures. My wife Linda and I gathered almost 500 signatures ourselves to help get it on the ballot. Dennis and I wound up being pretty good friends because We're both Vietnam vets. After Prop. 215 passed, it wasn't 3 or 4 more months before I got arrested.

Preston Peet- For growing?

EL- Yeah, I was the first person arrested, tried, and acquitted for felony cultivation and felony cultivation for sales in the state of California under Proposition 215.

P- Was it state prosecution?

EL- It was a state prosecution. I was the first person acquitted under our medical marijuana law, in 1998, in the Lake Port Superior Court, California.

P- Where are you located?

EL- We're in a little town called Upper Lake, which is the bottom corner of the Emerald Triangle, right at the bottom of the Mendecino National forest, about 15 miles from Lakeport. I was arrested for growing at the other end of the county in a community called Hidden Valley.

P- How long did the legal fight take in that case?

EL- I was arrested in April or May of 1996, like I said, only 3 or 4 months after Prop. 215 passed. It took a total of about 2 years to wind through the courts.

P- Now, this last incident that happened, when did that take place? And please describe briefly what happened.

EL- August 27 was the date of the DEA raid.

P- What exactly happened? You were off in San Francisco, weren't you?

EL- Actually, my wife and I had gone to Monteray because I had a doctor's appointment at 9 in the morning there. We then went to San Francisco. We were meeting with some folks from the Patient Resource Center, which are some of the people who worked with Dennis for many years when Dennis had his clubs. When Dennis went out of business, and got out of the club scene, these are the people who worked in his office, the head of security, his truly trusted core. They went ahead and started this group, the most respected dispensary in the state of California. They have the full support of Terrance Hallinan, and virtually every official in the city. They are very well respected. They were covered under the Catholic Diocese, and I believe still are, as far as protecting them.

P- So you're down there meeting with them?

EL- THere's this city supervisor, Mark Leno, who proposed that San Francisco grow their own marijuana for their own patients. What I was doing was asking the board of directors from the Resource Center to be intermediaries between me and Leno, as I don't know him, and they know him very well. I was offering to grow up to 5 acres in my lower piece of property, for free, for the state, and the city of San Francisco. I also told the board of directors I would soon be having up to 3 or 4 hundred pounds that I would be giving them free. Then we left there, and went to the VA hospital where I had a 2 o'clock appointment. While we were waiting there in the parking lot my daughter called and told us the DEA were raiding us. Within 10 minutes of finding out we were being raided, we notified the prosecutors at the federal building that I was in town and if they had an arrest warrant out for me I would be at the federal building within another 10 minutes. They said there was no arrest warrant.

P- That's really odd, considering they were raiding your property.

EL- Yes, we thought that was odd too. We called the Lake County sheriffs, and they said they had no warrants for my arrest or Linda?s arrest.

pre raid

P- Did they have warrants for anybody?s arrest on the property?

EL- They arrested 4 guys who live here.

P- Did DEA have warrants for them?

EL- No. They were here when the DEA came in with their search warrant. On all of those people, the 4 guys that live here, 3 of them were never arraigned, they were just released with no charges filed. The fourth guy we bailed out, and he has to go back to court in order for the judge to dismiss the charges. The bail bondsman has already assured us that is exactly what the judge is going to do, dismiss all the charges.

P- Why is that?

EL- Because they?ve dismissed them on everyone else. The DEA has no legal right. All of these men have completely legitimate, legal recommendations, and none of the plants per the DEA belonged to any of those men. The DEA was charging me for all of the plants. Or was going to if they were able to furnish enough evidence to the prosecutor to have me arrested, which they couldn't do.

P- Now where did you hear they were planning on arresting you? Is that the assumption going here?

EL- That's the assumption, but why the hell else would they serve a search warrant if they weren't planning ultimately on arresting me? Actually some of the cops on the raid told several of the boys here that they were here to fuck with me. They are sick and tired of me.

P- There are the federal cops?

EL- Federal and local both mentioned this. It was mentioned to 3 or 4 different people. I have a wide variety of witnesses.

P- Both federal and local cops were at your place?

EL- Yes, the local cops participated with the DEA in the raid. Which is kind of strange as I'm suing the fuck out of them for what they did the first time around. I'm kind of wondering how they figured, you know, there wasn't some kind of conflict of interest there. I'm suing them while they're over here chopping down my crop.

P- Yeah, that does seem like a bit of a conflict, doesn't it.

EL- It sure does to me, but I'm not a highly educated legal professional like these idiots. I am the guy though who has figured out how to keep them off his property, now and forever. I've already served notice and talked to a George Bevan, the federal prosecutor. [US Attorney] I don't know where this thing is going to go, but I do know if we do not stand up for our rights and do something about this, we are all screwed.

P- you've told me the cops left a lot of stuff behind, right?

EL- Yeah, they left half an ounce of hash, 3 or 4 joints in a rolling tray, a one pound plant hanging in the closet drying. They also left 4 rounds of .227 ammo in the driveway, which was turned over to Congressman [Mike] Thompson (D-CA).

P- Did you take pictures of the bullets before you turned them over?

EL- Oh yeah. We turned it over to Congressman Thompson?s office because I really didn't want to have DEA ammunition in my house.

P- They didn't press any charges. Have you filed a lawsuit?

EL- No, what We're going to do is on Wednesday, when I go down to the DEA, I'm, going to the federal courthouse and find out exactly what I have to do to request a hearing. Then I'm going to go to the hearing and demand they explain exactly where under the federal constitution they claim the authority to enforce federal drug laws inside the sovereign state of California. I'm going to do that based on 40-USCS-255.

P- Which says?

ED- Interpretive note number 14 of 40 USCS 255 explicitly reiterates the only method by which the federal government may acquire legislative jurisdiction over a geographic area within the outer limits of the state of the union, which is by the state?s cessation in writing. Legal jurisdiction is obviously required to enforce any law. Also, a copy of the 1956 federal report titled Jurisdiction over Federal Areas and the Committee for the Study of the Jurisdiction Over Federal Areas Within the States. In 1954, the Attorney General, Herbert Brownell, and President Eisenhower had an interdepartmental committee commissioned and what they did is look into 40 USCS 255 and the jurisdiction report over federal areas within the states and the recorded documents. The finding of the committee charged with the duty of studying the reporting were that the United States didn't have the authority to make someone subject to its jurisdiction. If it won't bore you, I'll read you three little paragraphs that explain this 400 page report.

P- Ok.

EL- It states clearly- the Constitution gives express recognition but to one means of federal acquisition of legislative jurisdiction. That is by state consent Article 1, Section A, clause 17. Justice McClane suggested that the Constitution provided the sole mode for the transfer of jurisdiction and if that mode is not pursued no transfer of jurisdiction can take place. (See report, page 41) It scarcely needs to be said that unless tHere's been a transfer of jurisdiction pursuant to clause 17 by a federal acquisition of land within the state with their consent, or two, by cessation from the state to the federal government or unless the federal government or unless the federal government reserved jurisdiction upon admission of the state, and 200 years ago I don't think they did, the federal government possesses no legislative jurisdiction over any area within the state. Such jurisdiction means exercised by the state subject to non-interference by the state in federal functions. (See report, page 45). Then this is the interesting one here. On the other hand, while the federal government has the power under various provisions of the Constitution to define and prohibit as criminal certain acts or admission occurring anywhere in the United States, it has no power to punish for various other crimes, i.e. growing pot, jurisdiction over which is retained by the state under our federal state system of government, unless such crimes occur on areas on which legislative jurisdiction has been vested in the federal government, i.e. if I were in a federal forest. Then I'd be fucked.

P- But the pot was growing on your own land, right?

EL- Right. THere's a couple other interesting things. One is US vs. Lopez, 1995. Lopez was convicted in Texas for violating a federal gun law. He took a gun to school. Local jurisdiction didn't pick up on it, but the feds did. This guy used as his only means of defense 40 USCS 255, while he was in prison. The US Supreme Court reversed the trials court decision, explaining that if it allowed it that would amount to the elimination of the basic Constitutional requirement of the separation of power. It goes on to say, to reiterate, even regarding the clear element of safety issues such as guns, the federal government was denied police authority by the United States Supreme Court inside the state of Texas because they lacked legislative jurisdiction. DoJ?s claim for legislating guns in Texas was interstate commerce laws. That's all they had to offer for jurisdiction on appeal. Lopez was released from jail.

P- How did you find out about this?

EL- I've been doing this for years, but about 2 weeks ago, I got a phone call. For example, the Lopez vs. USA? That's posted proudly down under my ?No Trespassing? sign. I was missing a couple pieces. Then my phone rings. A voice asks, ?you that dope guy, that marijuana guy? We got nothing in common. But I might be able to help you." He says, "I don't pay taxes. What he gave me was the USCS-255 and the 1956 report. Those were the only two pieces I'd missing. Let me give you an example of how important this stuff really is. Approximately 30 months ago, Mr. Walt Maken was arrested. He was arrested and charged with various federal misdemeanor and felony charges relating to file of federal income tax returns. At his arraignment, he was asked to plead guilty or innocent. Without a lawyer he refused to enter a plea, and instead submitted a motion formally challenging the jurisdiction of the US government to enforce federal tax laws in the State of Ohio. He cited 40 USCS 255 as his only argument. Thirty months later the US Department of Justice has failed to produce the legal documentation explicitly required per the statute to establish jurisdiction in his case. To this day, he has not stepped for in a federal court house again. His prosecution and trial have been stopped. His federal case number is CR300019. The judge who presided over that was judge Herbert Rice in Dayton, Ohio. You may contact Mr. Maken if you would like at waltmaken@hotmail.com. That's how strong this stuff is. I'm going to kick their asses. If I have to appeal it all the way to the Supreme Court, That's what I'll do. If this guy can keep these feds off his ass for not paying federal income taxes, you bet your ass I'm going to keep them from coming in and tearing up my property.

post raid

P- Have you heard back from any DEA agents at all?

EL- I have not heard back from the DEA. Mr. Bevens told me two weeks ago to make a formal request for the return of my property. He asked me to send it to him and explained that he would try to help if he could and would try to get DEA to return my property. So we sent him a formal letter requesting the return of all our personal items they took from the house. They took approximately 3500 pounds of high grade medicinal marijuana. Or as they put it in their exact words was ?the very highest grade of medical marijuana.? They were blown away.

P- they're gloating over it. I wonder if they're pinching off any of it.

EL- Dude, I know they stole 16 plants because I had 5 guys count that garden the day before I went to the hospital. All 5 of them came up with a count of 282. I was so careful with the numbers, you've no idea. The DEA is claiming just 266. We had marked 16 of the plants to be cut. Now you add 266 and 16 you get 282. The ones that were ready, that were done, have mysteriously disappeared.

post raid

P- Now, they're weighing the whole plant when the say 3500 pounds, right?

EL- Well, no, they're not. They had to cut branches off the whole plant. They left all the stalks. They couldn't cut them all down. I have a whole pile of them in the garden. See what happened was, when they showed up with all their equipment, they didn't have anything that could cut down the plants. They tried using a few of my machetes, but still couldn't cut them down, couldn't hang with that much work maybe. So then they broke out two of my chain saws and cut them all down. All they did was cut the branches off the stalks. What they weighed was pretty much the true weight. There was some small amount of wood in there from the branches, but there were no roots, no dirt, just flat what they cut off the stalks.

P- How do you feel about this?

EL- Excited. Exhilarated.

P- Excited and exhilarated? Those aren't exactly the words I was expecting to hear.

EL- That's the way it makes me feel.

P- Which is it that makes you that way, the raid, or the action your going to take?

EL- The action I'm going to take because they were stupid enough to come in here. See, I always figured they would.

P- So you are looking at the bright side of all this then.

EL- Oh yeah. it's real simple. They crushed me. Fuck, I'm not going to say that what they did didn't hurt me, it did. But at the same time, if they think I'm going to curl up in a fetal position so they can put some more dick in my ass, they got the wrong California boy. I'm a little further north of Frisco than they seem to think.

gifts from friends the day after raid

P- Now have you've heard they're prosecuting that one guy in San Jose for 25 plants, McWilliams?

EL- Right.

P- Have you had any contact with him?

EL- I've tried to be in contact with everybody, and everybody knows who I am and where I'm at. My phone rings off the hook. One guy called me this morning about his brother, who was traveling through Oklahoma and they arrested him for possession and they won't respect his doctor's recommendation. I get shit like this all day every day. So I can't swear to it. But I've made it very public to everyone what I'm doing and how I'm doing it. Hopefully the Corrals are getting on board too.

P- Yeah, they should be, right?

EL- Well, I took copies of this down to them when they had their rally in Santa Cruz. I gave it all to them.

the gifts get planted

P- So who told them about your farm?

EL- I'm sure the local cops turned me in. The local cops are a bunch of fucking gangsters, they really are. I'm making a motion tomorrow to force the Highway Patrol to give back my pot. This Highway Trooper pulled me over recently, and told me to get out my insurance papers and driver's license. I drive a 4 by 4 pickup. She looked in the back and saw big ol? jar of marijuana. She asked, ?do you normally drive around with marijuana in your vehicle,? and I said, ?hell yes, all the fucking time, every day. Here's my doctor's recommendation.? She wrote me up, gave me a ticket for no insurance, which I proved I had but she ignored, and then she wrote me up a speeding ticket.

P- She wrote you up for not having insurance even with you holding your insurance papers?

EL- Yeah, because I didn't have an insurance card. I have a letter. My insurance company doesn't give cards. They sent me a letter. She wouldn?t honor it. She wrote me up. Before I went to court, I got a letter from the judge saying my trial date had been changed and the charges had been dropped. So I go into court and say, ?Your honor, before we deal with the insurance and the ticket, what about my goddamned pot?? He told me I had to file a motion, so I've got a motion all typed up and when I go to court Monday, I will be submitting it to get my pot returned.

P- She confiscated your pot too?

EL- Yeah, she took nearly an ounce and now they're going to have to give me that pot back. On top of me suing the local cops anyway, I mean, it's just a joke. Every time they turn around I kick them in the nuts.

P- So do you know exactly what you have to do to file suit over the feds? raid?

EL- No, not yet. I'm going to get all the exact information on how to do that when I go down to San Francisco.

P- didn't some of the people arrested at your place get letters when they were released saying there weren't going to be any charges filed?

EL- All of the boys who were arrested here and taken to jail got pieces of paper stating that there was going to be no further action in this issue. The word no was hand written in on every one of them.

-----------

a couple days later...

------------

Linda Senti- He went to court yesterday, the judge said yes, they have to return your marijuana, and dropped all charges. But now the Highway Patrol is not accepting what the judge gave him. So We're going to have to resubmit.

P- What do mean, like appeal?

LS- No, we have to formally write up the order and have the judge sign it then take it to the Highway Patrol.

P- they're just going to make you jump through as many hoops as possible.

LS- The highway patrol is ignoring what the judge said because the judge didn't say it on the piece of paper they want him to. This is the kind of garbage We're going through here. The cops will do it, but we have to go through another formal motion. So we?ve won another victory, but we have to fight for it too.

P- At least that is good news partially. Eddy, what is your current civil suit against the local police over? The first bust back in 1996?

Eddy LepP- We're suing the locals for the return of that marijuana. What happened on is that they destroyed 655 pounds of high grade medical marijuana. They destroyed it. I've never argued whether or not they had the right to do so, but what they did was destroy it without notifying me. Believe it or not, even if it is heroin, they cannot destroy your property without notifying you, without telling you they are going to do it. There are procedures.

P- Even for heroin?

EL- For anything, any contraband, even illegal items.

P- I did not know that. I thought they would simply take it because it was illegal and do what they want with it.

EL- I know it is true, and you know why? Because I got busted coming into Las Angeles once, with about an eight ball of Nepal Temple Ball that I forgot to take out of the side pocket of my suitcase.

P- Why are you going to have to go to trial if they aren't charging you with anything?

EL- Right, they aren't charging me with anything, so. It'll be about 2 more weeks before I turn in the paper work, but I've gone and found out now exactly how to do it. I have to go down to the court clerk and give her a piece of paper asking specifically for a court date to allow me to introduce motions.

P- So it's not a trial, but more a hearing?

EL- Actually I don't even know if you'd call it a hearing. All a judge is going to do is give me an opportunity to present my paper work. I've been telling all these other people out here filing lawsuits that they are asking the wrong questions, but nobody is listening. But Jeff Jones has finally, on his last appeal, gone back and readdressed the Constitutional issue of legislative jurisdiction. Several of these people filing lawsuits have gone after the feds on jurisdiction, but they're also going after them on three or four other thing, like Constitutional violations under the 10th and 11th, and the 4th. This is where they're going to get screwed just like the Oakland club did. I'm going to ask them one question and one question only: Exactly where in the US Constitution did you get the authority to assume legislative jurisdiction over a sovereign citizen inside the state boundaries of the sovereign state of California? Under 40-USSC-255, paragraph number 17, it states clearly that unless the property is owned by the federal government by cessation by the state, they have no authority.

P- On Wednesday, the judge ruled the highway patrol has to give back you pot. Have you filed that paper work yet?

EL- No, because Linda?s computer crashed, and the guy is coming to fix it tomorrow. As soon as it is fixed, she?ll type up my letter and the judge will sign it.

Charles Edward "Eddy" Lepp and his wife Linda Senti own a farm in Upper Lake, California, with a sign out front that reads, "Eddy's Medicinal Gardens and Chapel." Nestled up against the Mendecino National Forest at the lower edge of the Emerald Triangle, they're very open about growing high-grade medical marijuana on their farm. On August 27, 2002, DEA agents and members of the Lake County Narcotics Task Force raided the farm while Lepp and his wife were away in San Francisco. Although the DEA claims its agents confiscated 266 nearly mature marijuana plants, "There are no pending federal charges against this gentleman or his wife," US Attorney in San Francisco spokesperson Debbie Young told this writer. Lepp, an ordained minister and Vietnam veteran, is the first person to have been arrested, tried and acquitted under the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, better known as Proposition 215, for growing medical marijuana in California.

It is a mystery to many how the feds can justify their recent spat of raids on medical marijuana growers as they are not pressing charges in most cases even after finding large quantities of pot. It would appear that if a warrant were issued for a search and illegal contraband was recovered, arrests would be forthcoming, but in many recent cases in California this has not happened.

For other unfortunate victims of capricious federal anti-drug warriors, it's worse, in that some are facing raids and charges for ridiculously small amounts of pot that the locals not only know about, but condone. Steve McWilliams, who gave out free medical marijuana to patients from the city hall steps in San Diego on September 17, in protest of yet another chargeless raid- this one against the Wo/man's Alliance for Medical Marijuana in Santa Cruz on September 5- was given a warning letter by DEA agents, then had DEA troopers show up to destroy his 25 plant garden within a week. "This guy is violating the law and he's flaunting it. He brought this whole thing on himself," DEA spokesperson Donald Thornhill, Jr. told the San Diego Tribune.

"If you voice your opinion and assert your rights, then you become a target for the DEA? That's unfortunate," said Allen St. Pierre, Executive Director of the NORML Foundation. "The idea is that he?s ?flaunting it? by simply asserting his rights under state law and under the 1st Amendment. If That's the kind of criteria, then judges and eventually appeals court panels should hear these cases on the basis that it sound like selective prosecutorial misconduct." McWilliams is now facing a 5-year mandatory minimum prison sentence if convicted as a result of this raid, combined with charges just now levied by the feds for another raid back in 1999 on the Shelter from the Storm Cannabis Collective, which McWilliams helped organize.

These DEA actions are disturbing to many people, patients and public officials alike. San Jose, California Police Chief William Lansdowne recently pulled his officers off their assignments to the DEA's High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area task force, a cooperative narcotics law enforcement effort between local, state, and federal officers, saying his officers have more important things to concentrate on, like methamphetamines. California Attorney General Bill Lockyer, who supports and even voted for the Compassionate Use Act, sent a letter [Download free Adobe Reader here] to DEA head Asa Hutchinson and US Attorney General John Ashcroft, saying, "I must also question the ethical basis for the DEA's policy when these raids are being executed without apparent regard to the likelihood of successful prosecution," after the DEA raid on the Wo/men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana.

That was just one of Lockyer's "concerns, that the feds were making more political statements without really intending to carry the case through," said Hallye Jordan, spokesperson for Attorney General Lockyer. "That was sparked by the Santa Cruz raid. That was the one he was most concerned about because local law enforcement was totally unaware of it, not involved and uninformed. At this point, because there are no state-wide standards, the Attorney General has encouraged communities to get together, the law enforcement, the health professionals, the medical marijuana advocates, city and county officials, and put together a plan, whether it's how many plants would be covered as for medical purposes, or what sort of identification card would be appropriate, to just come up with their own way to meet their community standards. You know, some guidelines for implementing Proposition 215. And in fact, That's what the case was in Santa Cruz. The clinic there was sanctioned by local law enforcement and city officials. They were all working together. It was all working out just the way we?d hoped it would be lacking the state-wide standards." DEA chief Hutchinson's reply [Download free Adobe Reader here] to Lockyer's letter addressed at length the Supreme Court ruling that Congress has decreed marijuana to have no currently accepted medical benefits, but did not address the vindictive raiding by federal enforcers without subsequent charges.

We had the opportunity to speak with Lepp and his wife over the course of a couple days this week, about the raid at his place, what he plans to do about it, and a number of other topics too, in an interview which we now post here.

Eddy LepP- I first started using marijuana over in Vietnam. I won't go into details, but they had some amazing shit over there. Smoking allowed me to keep myself well. Later on, I would kind of smoke it socially but I was drinking heavily for years. Then in about 1987 or 1988, something like that, my Dad got cancer. He underwent 14 major operations in about 14 months. After getting out of the hospital, he lived about another year before he died. During that year, he was living on Ensure, the protein drinks. The only way I could get him to drink the stuff was to roll up a big ol? fatty and shove it in his tracheotomy tube. One of my fondest memories of my father is him walking around with a big fatty I rolled stuck in his trach tube choking down his Ensures. That's when I first got involved with it in a medical aspect. My daughter was a caretaker for a young gentleman who got AIDS back in the beginning of the AIDS epidemic when it was truly a terrible thing and they had no control over it at all. Through him, I was introduced to Dennis Peron. A while later Dennis came up with this wild, hair brained idea which ended up being Proposition 215, [The Compassionate Use Act of 1996.] When they started gathering signatures, I got involved and helped gather signatures. My wife Linda and I gathered almost 500 signatures ourselves to help get it on the ballot. Dennis and I wound up being pretty good friends because We're both Vietnam vets. After Prop. 215 passed, it wasn't 3 or 4 more months before I got arrested.

Preston Peet- For growing?

EL- Yeah, I was the first person arrested, tried, and acquitted for felony cultivation and felony cultivation for sales in the state of California under Proposition 215.

P- Was it state prosecution?

EL- It was a state prosecution. I was the first person acquitted under our medical marijuana law, in 1998, in the Lake Port Superior Court, California.

P- Where are you located?

EL- We're in a little town called Upper Lake, which is the bottom corner of the Emerald Triangle, right at the bottom of the Mendecino National forest, about 15 miles from Lakeport. I was arrested for growing at the other end of the county in a community called Hidden Valley.

P- How long did the legal fight take in that case?

EL- I was arrested in April or May of 1996, like I said, only 3 or 4 months after Prop. 215 passed. It took a total of about 2 years to wind through the courts.

P- Now, this last incident that happened, when did that take place? And please describe briefly what happened.

EL- August 27 was the date of the DEA raid.

P- What exactly happened? You were off in San Francisco, weren't you?

EL- Actually, my wife and I had gone to Monteray because I had a doctor's appointment at 9 in the morning there. We then went to San Francisco. We were meeting with some folks from the Patient Resource Center, which are some of the people who worked with Dennis for many years when Dennis had his clubs. When Dennis went out of business, and got out of the club scene, these are the people who worked in his office, the head of security, his truly trusted core. They went ahead and started this group, the most respected dispensary in the state of California. They have the full support of Terrance Hallinan, and virtually every official in the city. They are very well respected. They were covered under the Catholic Diocese, and I believe still are, as far as protecting them.

P- So you're down there meeting with them?

EL- THere's this city supervisor, Mark Leno, who proposed that San Francisco grow their own marijuana for their own patients. What I was doing was asking the board of directors from the Resource Center to be intermediaries between me and Leno, as I don't know him, and they know him very well. I was offering to grow up to 5 acres in my lower piece of property, for free, for the state, and the city of San Francisco. I also told the board of directors I would soon be having up to 3 or 4 hundred pounds that I would be giving them free. Then we left there, and went to the VA hospital where I had a 2 o'clock appointment. While we were waiting there in the parking lot my daughter called and told us the DEA were raiding us. Within 10 minutes of finding out we were being raided, we notified the prosecutors at the federal building that I was in town and if they had an arrest warrant out for me I would be at the federal building within another 10 minutes. They said there was no arrest warrant.

P- That's really odd, considering they were raiding your property.

EL- Yes, we thought that was odd too. We called the Lake County sheriffs, and they said they had no warrants for my arrest or Linda?s arrest.

pre raid

P- Did they have warrants for anybody's arrest on the property?

EL- They arrested 4 guys who live here.

P- Did DEA have warrants for them?

EL- No. They were here when the DEA came in with their search warrant. On all of those people, the 4 guys that live here, 3 of them were never arraigned, they were just released with no charges filed. The fourth guy we bailed out, and he has to go back to court in order for the judge to dismiss the charges. The bail bondsman has already assured us that is exactly what the judge is going to do, dismiss all the charges.

P- Why is that?

EL- Because they?ve dismissed them on everyone else. The DEA has no legal right. All of these men have completely legitimate, legal recommendations, and none of the plants per the DEA belonged to any of those men. The DEA was charging me for all of the plants. Or was going to if they were able to furnish enough evidence to the prosecutor to have me arrested, which they couldn't do.

P- Now where did you hear they were planning on arresting you? Is that the assumption going here?

EL- That's the assumption, but why the hell else would they serve a search warrant if they weren't planning ultimately on arresting me? Actually some of the cops on the raid told several of the boys here that they were here to fuck with me. They are sick and tired of me.

P- There are the federal cops?

EL- Federal and local both mentioned this. It was mentioned to 3 or 4 different people. I have a wide variety of witnesses.

P- Both federal and local cops were at your place?

EL- Yes, the local cops participated with the DEA in the raid. Which is kind of strange as I'm suing the fuck out of them for what they did the first time around. I'm kind of wondering how they figured, you know, there wasn't some kind of conflict of interest there. I'm suing them while they're over here chopping down my crop.

P- Yeah, that does seem like a bit of a conflict, doesn't it?

EL- It sure does to me, but I'm not a highly educated legal professional like these idiots. I am the guy though who has figured out how to keep them off his property, now and forever. I've already served notice and talked to a George Bevan, the federal prosecutor. [US Attorney] I don't know where this thing is going to go, but I do know if we do not stand up for our rights and do something about this, we are all screwed.

P- you've told me the cops left a lot of stuff behind, right?

EL- Yeah, they left half an ounce of hash, 3 or 4 joints in a rolling tray, a one pound plant hanging in the closet drying. They also left 4 rounds of .227 ammo in the driveway, which was turned over to Congressman [Mike] Thompson (D-CA).

P- Did you take pictures of the bullets before you turned them over?

EL- Oh yeah. We turned it over to Congressman Thompson's office because I really didn't want to have DEA ammunition in my house.

P- They didn't press any charges. Have you filed a lawsuit?

EL- No, what We're going to do is on Wednesday, when I go down to the DEA, I'm, going to the federal courthouse and find out exactly what I have to do to request a hearing. Then I'm going to go to the hearing and demand they explain exactly where under the federal constitution they claim the authority to enforce federal drug laws inside the sovereign state of California. I'm going to do that based on 40-USCS-255.

P- Which says?

ED- Interpretive note number 14 of 40 USCS 255 explicitly reiterates the only method by which the federal government may acquire legislative jurisdiction over a geographic area within the outer limits of the state of the union, which is by the state?s cessation in writing. Legal jurisdiction is obviously required to enforce any law. Also, a copy of the 1956 federal report titled Jurisdiction over Federal Areas and the Committee for the Study of the Jurisdiction Over Federal Areas Within the States. In 1954, the Attorney General, Herbert Brownell, and President Eisenhower had an interdepartmental committee commissioned and what they did is look into 40 USCS 255 and the jurisdiction report over federal areas within the states and the recorded documents. The finding of the committee charged with the duty of studying the reporting were that the United States didn't have the authority to make someone subject to its jurisdiction. If it won't bore you, I'll read you three little paragraphs that explain this 400 page report.

P- Ok.

EL- It states clearly- the Constitution gives express recognition but to one means of federal acquisition of legislative jurisdiction. That is by state consent Article 1, Section A, clause 17. Justice McClane suggested that the Constitution provided the sole mode for the transfer of jurisdiction and if that mode is not pursued no transfer of jurisdiction can take place. (See report, page 41) It scarcely needs to be said that unless tHere's been a transfer of jurisdiction pursuant to clause 17 by a federal acquisition of land within the state with their consent, or two, by cessation from the state to the federal government or unless the federal government or unless the federal government reserved jurisdiction upon admission of the state, and 200 years ago I don't think they did, the federal government possesses no legislative jurisdiction over any area within the state. Such jurisdiction means exercised by the state subject to non-interference by the state in federal functions. (See report, page 45). Then this is the interesting one here. On the other hand, while the federal government has the power under various provisions of the Constitution to define and prohibit as criminal certain acts or admission occurring anywhere in the United States, it has no power to punish for various other crimes, i.e. growing pot, jurisdiction over which is retained by the state under our federal state system of government, unless such crimes occur on areas on which legislative jurisdiction has been vested in the federal government, i.e. if I were in a federal forest. Then I'd be fucked.

P- But the pot was growing on your own land, right?

EL- Right. THere's a couple other interesting things. One is US vs. Lopez, 1995. Lopez was convicted in Texas for violating a federal gun law. He took a gun to school. Local jurisdiction didn't pick up on it, but the feds did. This guy used as his only means of defense 40 USCS 255, while he was in prison. The US Supreme Court reversed the trials court decision, explaining that if it allowed it that would amount to the elimination of the basic Constitutional requirement of the separation of power. It goes on to say, to reiterate, even regarding the clear element of safety issues such as guns, the federal government was denied police authority by the United States Supreme Court inside the state of Texas because they lacked legislative jurisdiction. DoJ's claim for legislating guns in Texas was interstate commerce laws. That's all they had to offer for jurisdiction on appeal. Lopez was released from jail.

P- How did you find out about this?

EL- I've been doing this for years, but about 2 weeks ago, I got a phone call. For example, the Lopez vs. USA? That's posted proudly down under my No Trespassing sign. I was missing a couple pieces. Then my phone rings. A voice asks, 'you that dope guy, that marijuana guy' We got nothing in common. But I might be able to help you." He says, "I don't pay taxes. What he gave me was the USCS-255 and the 1956 report. Those were the only two pieces I'd missing. Let me give you an example of how important this stuff really is. Approximately 30 months ago, Mr. Walt Maken was arrested. He was arrested and charged with various federal misdemeanor and felony charges relating to file of federal income tax returns. At his arraignment, he was asked to plead guilty or innocent. Without a lawyer he refused to enter a plea, and instead submitted a motion formally challenging the jurisdiction of the US government to enforce federal tax laws in the State of Ohio. He cited 40 USCS 255 as his only argument. Thirty months later the US Department of Justice has failed to produce the legal documentation explicitly required per the statute to establish jurisdiction in his case. To this day, he has not stepped for in a federal court house again. His prosecution and trial have been stopped. His federal case number is CR300019. The judge who presided over that was judge Herbert Rice in Dayton, Ohio. You may contact Mr. Maken if you would like at waltmaken@hotmail.com. That's how strong this stuff is. I'm going to kick their asses. If I have to appeal it all the way to the Supreme Court, That's what I'll do. If this guy can keep these feds off his ass for not paying federal income taxes, you bet your ass I'm going to keep them from coming in and tearing up my property.

P- Have you heard back from any DEA agents at all?

EL- I have not heard back from the DEA. Mr. Bevens told me two weeks ago to make a formal request for the return of my property. He asked me to send it to him and explained that he would try to help if he could and would try to get DEA to return my property. So we sent him a formal letter requesting the return of all our personal items they took from the house. They took approximately 3500 pounds of high grade medicinal marijuana. Or as they put it in their exact words was 'the very highest grade of medical marijuana.' They were blown away.

P- they're gloating over it. I wonder if they're pinching off any of it.

EL- Dude, I know they stole 16 plants because I had 5 guys count that garden the day before I went to the hospital. All 5 of them came up with a count of 282. I was so careful with the numbers, you've no idea. The DEA is claiming just 266. We had marked 16 of the plants to be cut. Now you add 266 and 16 you get 282. The ones that were ready, that were done, have mysteriously disappeared.

post raid

P- Now, they're weighing the whole plant when the say 3500 pounds, right?

EL- Well, no, they're not. They had to cut branches off the whole plant. They left all the stalks. They couldn't cut them all down. I have a whole pile of them in the garden. See what happened was, when they showed up with all their equipment, they didn't have anything that could cut down the plants. They tried using a few of my machetes, but still couldn't cut them down, couldn't hang with that much work maybe. So then they broke out two of my chain saws and cut them all down. All they did was cut the branches off the stalks. What they weighed was pretty much the true weight. There was some small amount of wood in there from the branches, but there were no roots, no dirt, just flat what they cut off the stalks.

P- How do you feel about this?

EL- Excited. Exhilarated.

P- Excited and exhilarated? Those aren't exactly the words I was expecting to hear.

EL- That's the way it makes me feel.

P- Which is it that makes you that way, the raid, or the action your going to take?

EL- The action I'm going to take because they were stupid enough to come in here. See, I always figured they would.

P- So you are looking at the bright side of all this then.

EL- Oh yeah. it's real simple. They crushed me. Fuck, I'm not going to say that what they did didn't hurt me, it did. But at the same time, if they think I'm going to curl up in a fetal position so they can put some more dick in my ass, they got the wrong California boy. I'm a little further north of Frisco than they seem to think.

P- Now have you've heard they're prosecuting that one guy in San Jose for 25 plants, McWilliams?

EL- Right.

P- Have you had any contact with him?

EL- I've tried to be in contact with everybody, and everybody knows who I am and where I'm at. My phone rings off the hook. One guy called me this morning about his brother, who was traveling through Oklahoma and they arrested him for possession and they won't respect his doctor's recommendation. I get shit like this all day every day. So I can't swear to it. But I've made it very public to everyone what I'm doing and how I'm doing it. Hopefully the Corrals are getting on board too.

P- Yeah, they should be, right?

EL- Well, I took copies of this down to them when they had their rally in Santa Cruz. I gave it all to them.

the gifts get planted

P- So who told them about your farm?

EL- I'm sure the local cops turned me in. The local cops are a bunch of fucking gangsters, they really are. I'm making a motion tomorrow to force the Highway Patrol to give back my pot. This Highway Trooper pulled me over recently, and told me to get out my insurance papers and driver's license. I drive a 4 by 4 pickup. She looked in the back and saw big old jar of marijuana. She asked, 'do you normally drive around with marijuana in your vehicle,' and I said, 'hell yes, all the fucking time, every day. Here's my doctor's recommendation.' She wrote me up, gave me a ticket for no insurance, which I proved I had but she ignored, and then she wrote me up a speeding ticket.

P- She wrote you up for not having insurance even with you holding your insurance papers?

EL- Yeah, because I didn't have an insurance card. I have a letter. My insurance company doesn't give cards. They sent me a letter. She wouldn?t honor it. She wrote me up. Before I went to court, I got a letter from the judge saying my trial date had been changed and the charges had been dropped. So I go into court and say, 'Your honor, before we deal with the insurance and the ticket, what about my goddamned pot?' He told me I had to file a motion, so I've got a motion all typed up and when I go to court Monday, I will be submitting it to get my pot returned.

P- She confiscated your pot too?

EL- Yeah, she took nearly an ounce and now they're going to have to give me that pot back. On top of me suing the local cops anyway, I mean, it's just a joke. Every time they turn around I kick them in the nuts.

P- So do you know exactly what you have to do to file suit over the feds? raid?

EL- No, not yet. I'm going to get all the exact information on how to do that when I go down to San Francisco.

P- didn't some of the people arrested at your place get letters when they were released saying there weren't going to be any charges filed?

EL- All of the boys who were arrested here and taken to jail got pieces of paper stating that there was going to be no further action in this issue. The word no was hand written in on every one of them.

-----------

a few days later...

------------

Linda Senti- He went to court yesterday, the judge said yes, they have to return your marijuana, and dropped all charges. But now the Highway Patrol is not accepting what the judge gave him. So We're going to have to resubmit.

P- What do mean, like appeal?

LS- No, we have to formally write up the order and have the judge sign it then take it to the Highway Patrol.

P- they're just going to make you jump through as many hoops as possible.

LS- The highway patrol is ignoring what the judge said because the judge didn't say it on the piece of paper they want him to. This is the kind of garbage We're going through here. The cops will do it, but we have to go through another formal motion. So we?ve won another victory, but we have to fight for it too.

P- At least that is good news partially. Eddy, what is your current civil suit against the local police over? The first bust back in 1996?

Eddy LepP- We're suing the locals for the return of that marijuana. What happened on is that they destroyed 655 pounds of high grade medical marijuana. They destroyed it. I've never argued whether or not they had the right to do so, but what they did was destroy it without notifying me. Believe it or not, even if it is heroin, they cannot destroy your property without notifying you, without telling you they are going to do it. There are procedures.

P- Even for heroin?

EL- For anything, any contraband, even illegal items.

P- I did not know that. I thought they would simply take it because it was illegal and do what they want with it.

EL- I know it is true, and you know why? Because I got busted coming into Las Angeles once, with about an eight ball of Nepal Temple Ball that I forgot to take out of the side pocket of my suitcase.

P- Why are you going to have to go to trial if they aren't charging you with anything?

EL- Right, they aren't charging me with anything, so. It'll be about 2 more weeks before I turn in the paper work, but I've gone and found out now exactly how to do it. I have to go down to the court clerk and give her a piece of paper asking specifically for a court date to allow me to introduce motions.

P- So it's not a trial, but more a hearing?

EL- Actually I don't even know if you'd call it a hearing. All a judge is going to do is give me an opportunity to present my paper work. I've been telling all these other people out here filing lawsuits that they are asking the wrong questions, but nobody is listening. But Jeff Jones has finally, on his last appeal, gone back and readdressed the Constitutional issue of legislative jurisdiction. Several of these people filing lawsuits have gone after the feds on jurisdiction, but they're also going after them on three or four other thing, like Constitutional violations under the 10th and 11th, and the 4th. This is where they're going to get screwed just like the Oakland club did. I'm going to ask them one question and one question only: Exactly where in the US Constitution did you get the authority to assume legislative jurisdiction over a sovereign citizen inside the state boundaries of the sovereign state of California? Under 40-USSC-255, paragraph number 17, it states clearly that unless the property is owned by the federal government by cessation by the state, they have no authority.

P- On Wednesday, the judge ruled the highway patrol has to give back you pot. Have you filed that paper work yet?

EL- No, because Linda?'s computer crashed, and the guy is coming to fix it tomorrow. As soon as it is fixed, she'll type up my letter and the judge will sign it.

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