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DA Ramsey trots out some bizarre logic to justify the dispensary raids

We’ve got a couple of strong stories about medical marijuana in this issue. Both show how difficult it has become for local law enforcement to stop the spread of cannabis cultivation and dispensaries.

Our cover story (“The cannabis conundrum,” by Managing Editor Meredith J. Cooper and News Editor Melissa Daugherty) takes another, closer look at the June 30 law-enforcement raids on cannabis collectives and the homes of their operators. As it shows, a lot of time, effort and taxpayers’ money went into coordinating the 19 simultaneous raids—one of which managed to target the wrong house. Oops.

Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey, by all accounts the instigator of the crackdown, has a cut-and-dried take on the legal issues. It’s OK to grow medi-pot as long as certain rules are followed, he says, but it’s not legal under any circumstances to sell it.

He’s at odds with the state Attorney General’s Office on this. In 2008 AG Edmund Brown issued a set of guidelines designed to clarify the laws surrounding growing and dispensing medical marijuana. They held that collectives could, among other things, “allocate” (that is, sell) cannabis “based on fees that are reasonably calculated to cover overhead costs and operating expenses.”

As our story states, Ramsey’s rather bizarre take on that provision is that, because collectives accept new members regularly, overhead constantly changes, and as a result it’s impossible to set a fixed price for cannabis.

Ramsey was once an Oroville Mercury reporter, which may explain things, but even I know that overhead is calculated over time, not from moment to moment. A nonprofit business—the Goodwill Store, say—doesn’t have to prove it’s not turning a profit every minute of every day, only when it balances its books at tax time.

We’ll see how Ramsey’s argument plays out in court—if charges are ever brought.

More on marijuana: Our second cannabis-related story this week is “Nightmare in the hills”, Daugherty’s sharp Newslines profile of Patricia Vance. She’s a tough-minded woman who’s brave enough to do battle with the pot growers who seem to be taking over her neck of the woods in Yankee Hill.

As the story shows, pot gardens are proliferating in the foothills, and there’s little the authorities can do about it. Many of the grows aren’t being cultivated by your sweet-natured, Earth-loving hippies, but rather by sketchy hard types who don’t hesitate to tear up the forest and steal water—and intimidate their neighbors—in the process of making lots of money.

Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act, has had many unintended or unexpected consequences, none more ironic or unsettling than this one.

Walk that bike, dude: Every year at this time, students new to town ride their bikes or skateboards on downtown sidewalks. They don’t realize it’s illegal (fine: $37) and, worse, dangerous, especially to people exiting stores. Well, now you know. So chill, friends. Please.