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State of California v. Richard and Donna Tognoli (2010-present, Butte County)

posted Feb 21, 2013, 3:30 PM by The Editor   [ updated Feb 22, 2013, 2:40 PM ]
In June 2010, law enforcement officers raided eight medical marijuana collectives in Butte County, CA, seizing property and taking forfeiture action against bank accounts of the defendants, but initially only filing criminal charges in one case.  Members of the seven other medical marijuana co-0peratives were left to wonder when they would be indicted and by which government entity, state or federal. 

When Rick and Donna Tognoli's small medical marijuana collective named Scripts Only Service (SOS) was raided, the couple's personal bank account and that of Tognoli Trucking and Grading were seized in addition to all the property of the medical marijuana collective.  Rick Tognoli's trucking business shrank as he struggled to pay utilities and maintain his vehicle fleet; after a years he was back to daily life as a single truck owner-operator, no longer the owner of a modest small business with several employees on the payroll.  The Tognolis lived in limbo for more two years before criminal charges were filed, in September 2012.  According to Rick Tognoli, “The charges were filed about two weeks after I called Butte County Supervisor Larry Wahl a liar in an open [Board of Supervisors] meeting attended by Butte County DA Mike Ramsey.”

The storefront presence of SOS closed following the raid due to the seizure of the collective's money, property, and records, but the Tognolis have continued to provide cannabis to critically ill patients unable to cultivate for themselves.  The couple maintain a 2009 ruling by the California Third District Court of Appeals in the case of County of Butte v. Superior Court gives them and all other Californians the right to cultivate pot collectively. The appellate court decision upheld Butte County Superior Court Judge Barbara Roberts' ruling that rejected Butte County’s policy of requiring collective patients to physically participate in the growing their own cannabis (the Butte County policy disallowed financial contributions).

The Human Solution has reported an interim victory after February 21, 2013 court support for an 8:30 AM procedural hearing--the criminal case was dismissed by the judge in the interest of justice!  (It is unclear if charges may be re-filed).

Sources:

Cantu, Vic. "Pot-bust Flashback." NewsReview.com. Chico News & Review, 8 Nov. 2012. Web. 22 Feb. 2013. <http://www.newsreview.com/chico/pot-bust-flashback/content?oid=8291876>.

Graham, Meredith J. "Where Are They Now?" NewsReview.com. Chico News & Review, 22 Sept. 2011. Web. 22 Feb. 2013. <http://www.newsreview.com/chico/where-are-they-now/content?oid=3812569>.

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