Last month, NUG received a letter from San Diego resident Larissa Danielli who had her child seized by police because of their inability to prosecute her, a legal medical marijuana patient, in California.
On November 3, 2011, Larissaâ€™s busy, steady life — as a mother, business owner, taxpayer, voter, student, and medical marijuana patient — was stripped away by police when her home was set on fire by a neighbor. She was attacked, victimized, and left at her most vulnerable for not even breaking the law.
â€œAfter a negligent neighbor set fire to our apartment complex, I was wrongfully arrested for having a legal amount of marijuana in my home, sealed and out of reach,â€ Larissa explains.Â â€œAfter finding out I was 100% legal, the SDPD turned on my child, who was at daycare. SDPD held me for 5 hours in the back of a cruiser before booking me on a $100,000 bail on the charge of Felony Child Endangerment w/ Intent to Kill. I spent 5 days in jail before I was able to see a judge,Â all for being a legal medical marijuana patient and having a child.â€
To make matters worse, Larissaâ€™s child was then turned over to a childrenâ€™s home and CWS because SDPD falsely claimed that she had no one to give her son to, even though she begged them to allow her son to go with his brother.
*It is against policy to turn children over to Child Welfare Services unless there is absolutely no family to take them.
â€œSDPD refused and then lied in their reports, saying I had no family to send my son to and telling CWS I was arrested for â€˜Possession and Salesâ€™ and for being â€˜Under the Influenceâ€™. They told the media I was arrested for trying to assault an officer. I was never even given a drug or breathalyzer test or charged with the crimes that the SDPD claimed to the media and CWS.Â My child was detained by CWS for three months.â€
In addition to being stripped of her child, she was also submitted to the DMV by SDPD for being a â€œdrug addictâ€ and had to go through the whole re-evaluation process with the DMV. â€œNever mind the fact that my vehicle wasn’t even involved, I haven’t so much as had even a speeding ticket in over three years. Also, I don’t use a single drug — prescription or non-prescription — besides my medical marijuana, and I always medicate responsibly.â€
Despite SDPDâ€™s persistence, all of her charges — criminal, CWS, and DMV — were dismissed completely. Not only did she not break the law, but she is als` very good mother, and CWS agreed. However, they still held onto her child for three months due to SDPD’s slanderous words and abuse of the law.
Following her clean slate, Larissa filed a complaint with the internal affairs board, but withdrew her complaint due to how the officer taking the complaint treated her. He informed her that this was a completely normal procedure and didn’t see anything wrong with it. With that being mentioned, you donâ€™t have to look very far to see where our problems begin as medical marijuana patients.
â€œI didn’t want to hurt my civil suit by having internal affairs destroying information or protecting themselves,â€ shares Larissa.Â â€œI had a criminal law attorney, Jim Fitzpatrick, who had the criminal charges dismissed and a CPS attorney, Art LaCilento, who had the CPS charges dropped. Shawn McMillan is interested in my civil case and has met with me several times, but as he is overloaded and doesn’t really know about MMJ laws, I have about 1 Â½Â months left to find a civil medical marijuana expert to work with Shawn and to file civilly against the city.â€
It is patients like Larissa who shape and influence our movement and cause. Itâ€™s not always easy to gut-check and educate others on MMJ laws, but itâ€™s necessary in order to make a difference and influence change and tolerance of othersâ€™ security and needs â€“ whether medical, emotional, or recreational. This incident reassures our rights as medical marijuana patients in California, but it mustnâ€™t end there.
When it comes to medical marijuana in California, it all boils down to a matter of opinion and tolerance, which has become our biggest struggle, because for some in California, especially law enforcement and some local governments, opinion and tolerance has become their form of control.
We must continue to fight towards ending prohibition and protecting our rights. We canâ€™t allow our leaders to keep their cooperation in the dark, because that wasnâ€™t what we voted for with the Compassionate Use Act. No one deserves to have their life or reputation ruined for being a responsible, productive medical marijuana patient, and Larissa concurs.
â€œIf you are a parent, you can’t even imagine the horror of having your baby ripped away from you, refusing you the right to even see or speak to him. An SDPD officer sent to protect and serve tore a baby away from his mother, the only life he knew.Â Since that officer didn’t agree with the very law he is sworn to uphold, he made the decision that I would pay for being legal, and pay I did. I was only allowed to see my child for three hours a day, supervised, even on the day CWS told me they were fully dismissing my case. I spent Thanksgiving, Christmas, and my son’s 2nd birthday without him. I lost my child, my home, my job, my family, and so much more.
If this is how our tax dollars are being spent, I believe it is time for SDPD and CWS to start making cuts. IfÂ the best use of their time is to terrorize upstanding, law-abiding citizens and to tear families apart, lying and attacking innocent people, then they clearly have too many employees with too much time on their hands who are all too willing to waste American tax dollars at a time when waste should be at its lowest.â€
If you or anyone you know has suffered from an incident like Larissaâ€™s or similar, please reach out to us and share your story. You deserve to be heard.