What led to the arrest of a medical marijuana delivery driver following a routine traffic stop in Oceano on Jan. 5? Few facts have been made public at this point, but one thing is certain: Medical marijuana advocates were quick to allege that the SLO County Sheriff’s Department is cracking down, once again, on pot in SLO County.
New Times received an e-mail from Ryan Booker, executive director of Ethnobotanica, a SLO-based collective, insisting that his employee, 22-year-old Chance Simmons, was following the law when he was arrested by a deputy for possession with intent to distribute marijuana and possession of concentrated cannabis.
“Ethnobotanica is confident the courts will realize the intent of California voters once again by dismissing all charges brought as a result of this arrest,” Booker wrote.
According to Booker’s e-mail, Ethnobotanica is the longest-running collective in SLO County, having been established in 2007 and serving some 1,000 members. New Times couldn’t verify those claims. Booker didn’t return repeated requests for comment.
Sheriff’s Department Spokesman Tony Cipolla verified to New Times that Simmons had been arrested, though the spokesman couldn’t release specific details about the incident. He did, however, stress that the arrest wasn’t the result of any narcotics unit investigation and that the deputy involved had to make a “judgment call.”
“Keep in mind that we don’t have any registered collectives in the county, and we have to take these on a case-by-case basis,” Cipolla said.
He said the department is currently consulting with the District Attorney’s Office to determine whether Simmons should be prosecuted. As of press time, Simmons was scheduled for arraignment in SLO County Superior Court on Jan. 17.