Opinion » Shredder

Doobious and delighted

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Saying “I told you so” is like scratching a mosquito bite on the first day of a three-day weekend after discovering a stray bottle of beer in the back of the fridge. It’s the gift you give yourself for being smarter than everyone else. And then waiting and waiting and waiting. A really good “I told you so” is like a fancypants bottle of wine; it takes some time to mature. I tend to jump the gun and start guzzling during the grape foot-smash stage, so I rarely get to experience a properly matured vintage.

But this is the “I told you so” I’ve been waiting four years to deliver—the emotional equivalent of a pretentious French bottle of wine worth more than my car.

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You see, when the Narcotics Task Force—comprised of agents representing the Arroyo Grande, Grover Beach, Paso Robles, and San Luis Obispo police departments, as well as Cal Poly’s University Police Department, the District Attorney’s office, the state parole office, County Probation and Sheriff’s departments, and the state Department of Justice—went barreling into nearly a dozen local residences just three weeks shy of four years ago; accusing them of illegally selling marijuana; seizing their property and, in some cases, children, I was among the many private citizens to cry foul.

NTF Commander Rodney John insisted that his agents collected “concrete proof” that every person arrested in the sting violated provisions of California’s medical marijuana program, but as more details emerged, it sounded more and more like the Narcotics Task Force had gone and spent a buttload of money—we’re still not sure how much, because they insist they themselves don’t know—trying to transform law-abiding citizens into criminals.

Four years—and god only knows how much more money—of attempted prosecution dragged on. The rational among us pointed out how ridiculous it was to continue pursuing prosecution as the nation marched steadily toward legalization, especially in light of the fact that the Doobie Dozen—and yes, I named them that, which is one more thing to gloat over—were operating within state-mandated medical marijuana dispensary procedure. Clearly this was a case of overzealous law enforcement officials who didn’t give a crap that Californians passed Proposition 215—also known as the Compassionate Use Act—way back in 1996. Apparently, the Narcotics Task Force has no use for compassion, or the will of the voters.

I’m guessing the credit for this sudden decision to behave rationally is due to the changing of the guard at the District Attorney’s Office. If we hadn’t elected Dan Dow, we might still be facing an expensive and unpopular years-long battle to prosecute the final six members of the Doobie Dozen. Unfortunately—but not surprisingly—though Dow was willing to do the right thing, he wasn’t willing to criticize his predecessor’s determined and costly pursuit of prosecution. We all know that law enforcement officials refuse to critique one another, even when public money was thrown away on four years of legal wrangling that resulted in zero successful prosecutions. I’m not sure what that says for Rodney John’s “concrete proof” theory, but it at least confirms that my bullshit detector was as functional four years ago as it is today.

In my own words—which are, of course, the very best kind of words (you might even call them the James Brown of words)—this is what I had to say Jan. 6, 2011: “The saddest part of this whole fiasco, to me, is that, if history is any indicator, the mobile dispensaries’ owners and operators will probably be acquitted or have their charges significantly reduced—but the expense of their litigation and confiscation of their legal product will combine to put them out of business anyway.”

So back in 2011 I called it: The DA wouldn’t secure any convictions, but his office would manage to ruin 12 lives in the process. Most of the defendants are still waiting to have their property returned, though you’d think that’s the sort of thing that automatically happens once you’re cleared of any wrongdoing. And I can’t wait to see how much money the government loses from the spate of civil rights lawsuits the defendants pursue in the wake of this failed prosecution effort.

I mean, it’s not every day you wake up to find cops pointing guns in your face and trashing your house looking for “evidence.” I doubt that anyone then could have predicted the nightmare would drag on for four years, but given how much effort and money the Narcotics Task Force and District Attorney’s Office have already wasted—while failing to financially account for the effort with a budget that’s available to the public—I say, “Go get yours, Doobie Dozen. And if you happen to be strolling past a liquor store that happens to be having a holiday sale, just remember who gave you your fabulous moniker, and who publically encouraged and supported you back when Rodney John was still blathering about how rock hard his … er … proof was.”

Oh yeah, and, I told you so.

 

Shredder never gets tired of saying it. Send congratulations to shredder@newtimesslo.com.

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