Medical marijuana user avoids buzzkill

It’s been a long, strange trip for Mike Rogers.

Charged 18 months ago with marijuana cultivation and possession charges, Rogers—whose full name is Joseph Michael Rogers—was acquitted last week in what was Butte County’s first major medical-marijuana case. Rogers admits that he was trying to start the Compassionate Cultivation Co-op Project (otherwise known as the Cohasset Cannabis Co-op) with several friends—and thought he had the support of county law enforcement after notifying them of his efforts—when sheriff’s investigators busted the project and pulled up the 24 plants he had growing at his and a friend’s home.

Deputy District Attorney Clare Keithley, who prosecuted the case, tried to tie Rogers to 178 marijuana plants found growing at a Paradise home, but Rogers said the jury didn’t believe it.

“I was doing my own thing,” Rogers said. “I was just trying to help sick people, and there’s no way I’m going to stop now.”

Rogers, 44, is a small man with a scruffy beard and a quiet voice. He lives in Cohasset and said that he plans to continue growing marijuana for his personal use. Rogers said he broke his neck and was temporarily paralyzed in a motorcycle accident in 1976. He has suffered severe pain since then, he said, and only marijuana dulls it.

“I’m just totally exhausted by the whole thing,” Rogers said. “I’m also pretty happy about the way it all turned out.”

His attorney, Kevin Sears, couldn’t be reached for comment about the case.

District Attorney Mike Ramsey, who calls Rogers the “merry marijuana medicator,” said that the loss of the case won’t change the way his office prosecutes medical-marijuana cases.

“The appellate courts have agreed that you can’t have co-ops, and you can’t give away or sell medical marijuana unless you are a primary caregiver,” he said. “And the rules for them are pretty strict.”

He added that he and Sheriff Scott Mackenzie have agreed not to bother anyone who is found with six marijuana plants with a medical recommendation.

However, Rogers said that the whole experience has left him with a bad taste in his mouth. He plans to file a return-of-property motion to try to recover more than $7,000 in attorney’s fees and bail money and then move out of the area.

"My wife and I are thinking about Humboldt County," he said. "It’s just more politically friendly there, and we want to farm medicinal herbs, cannabis and organic fruits and vegetables."