20-acre pot farm raided in California

Eddy Lepp: raided for being honestEddy Lepp: raided for being honestAccording to DEA spokesman Richard Meyer, the sprawling 20-acre farm near Upper Lake, California, contained 20,000 high-grade marijuana plants estimated at a value of $80 million. Meyer arrived at this estimate by assuming that each plant weighed one pound worth $4,000, multiplied by the number of plants they stole from Eddy and his patients.
According to Lepp, the DEA was actually very far off in its estimation. Instead of 20,000 plants, there were actually 32,524, and at $4,000 a pound it adds up to $130 million. But Lepp’s plants weren’t for sale; he was running a non-profit med-pot co-op, fully legal under California state law.

Past med-pot busts

Eddy Lepp and his medical marijuana gardens are no strangers to controversy.

In 1996, California state law enforcement arrested Lepp for cultivation of 131 marijuana plants. He became the first person to be arrested, tried and acquitted in the state of California under Proposition 215, the medical marijuana law passed by state referendum.

Six years later, Lepp’s med-pot garden was again raided by the feds. Lepp wasn’t arrested, federal police just came and took all of his 350 plants. Eddy Lepp and his wife, Linda, are now suing the federal government for the return of those plants.

This 20-acre farm had over 32,000 medical marijuana plantsThis 20-acre farm had over 32,000 medical marijuana plantsLegal under state law

In an interview with Cannabis Culture, Lepp explained that his massive med-pot farm is legal under state law, and that it was anything but a secret. “Every year for the past five years, before I have planted, I mailed a letter to the Lake County Board of Supervisors, the local Sheriff’s Department, the District Attorney, and the County Council. And this year we also sent letters to the Attorney General and our new Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. I let them all know who we are and what we are doing.”

Lepp says that his letters outlined exactly what was going on, and even gave the address of his pot farm. “I gave them all 30 days to respond and nobody did,” says Lepp. “What they are telling me was that under the law, it is legal in the state of California. You don’t even have to tell us you’re doing it.”

Lepp figures federal police should leave him alone too. “My contention is this,” says Lepp. “If the US has a problem with California medical marijuana law, then why don’t they take the state of California to court and leave the citizens of the Republic alone. They have no jurisdiction over us and need to quit taking it. It is not theirs.”

Lepp’s lawsuit to get back his plants from the 2002 raid is also an effort to show that the federal government has no jurisdiction interfering with a non-profit med-pot grow that is legal under state law. “We will prove that Title 40 USC 255 states clearly that if they do not hold title, they don’t have jurisdiction and none can be presumed, even when invited in by the state.”

This 20-acre farm had over 32,000 medical marijuana plantsDEA raid

When the DEA came to his massive marijuana plantation, Lepp was surrounded by patients at the farm who were enjoying their morning coffee, “The DEA is here,” he told them. “Nobody panic, nobody react, just respond to what they tell you.” Then he walked down to answer the door.

Lepp was met by Lake County Sheriff officer David Garzolli and another officer. Lepp claims the pair had performed an illegal, unwarranted search just two days before. Lepp says that he spoke with them briefly, and then he had a gun shoved into his eye and was forcefully thrown to the ground. His face was also slapped in an attempt to remove the lit cigarette from his mouth.

Lepp says that neither of the officers properly identified themselves until 20 minutes after everyone was handcuffed and on the floor. Then Lepp claims he was told, “See this fucking badge? This is all the fucking proof you need!”

A trail of buds

After Lepp had been arrested and taken to jail, I followed the police in their giant trucks, overflowing with the beautiful plants they had uprooted.

The police hadn’t bothered to close the tailgates of their trucks, and none of the plants were tied down in any way. I saw many huge buds and whole plants spilling out of the trucks onto Highway 20.

The marijuana trail continued through more than three towns and stretched for miles around Clear Lake (California’s largest natural freshwater lake). People were stopping in the middle of the highway and literally fighting over the massive plants.

Eyewitnesses later estimated that between 200 to 300 pounds of buds had been spilled by police on their way to the dump.

Police trucks spilled 200 to 300 lbs on the way to the dump.Police trucks spilled 200 to 300 lbs on the way to the dump.Embarrassed cops

After being released, Lepp told Cannabis Culture how the feds had said to him that if he had been growing those plants up in the mountains they never would have messed with him. Lepp said he was outraged. “After hearing this, I asked them, ‘you mean to tell me I got raided because I did this out in the open, because where I live it’s legal for me to do this, and because I did it above board so that everybody in the world can see that what I’m doing is purely medicinal?’ They replied by telling me, ‘But Eddy, you embarrassed us.'”

“I can’t understand why it is OK for an out of control government to do what they did to me!” complained Lepp. “How can they come onto private property, rip everyone out of bed, harass and detain them and steal their legal possessions just because I’ve embarrassed them! I mean, at what point does it become worse than Nazi Germany? At what point do they do this because I’ve embarrassed them? Is it because of what I am, because I grow medicine? What’s the embarrassment?”

? T0 help Eddy’s legal fund, donations can be sent to: Eddy’s Medicinal Gardens, PO Box 382, Upper Lake, CA 95485; tel 707-275-8879

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  121. Anonymous on

    Mr. Lepps, I feel your pain. I’m sorry to hear about your loss, I will keep you in my prayers. Another example of our fucked up Gov. Bottom line, 3 words,” Above the Law”.

  122. Anonymousdean5371 on

    you think the laws are stupid in cali you wana come to wales in the united kingdom ive been growing for 30years and been busted many times and prison wasnt a option your laws are pretty sound and wats a hundred pound of weed lost you could get that back in 12weeks dont worry youve got good old swarznigger for gouvner take care eddy you could be living in wales peace and love

  123. Anonymous on

    I am in total agreeance. This push to legalize it in all states may bring this nation out of recession. Not to mention bringing down some of the drugs in the FDA that are really the ones that should be banned and that are causing people to have side effects and possible deathe due to susicide and addiction. I am of the opinion that about 70% of people in the us and other countries use Marajuana for their own medical needs. I for one use it as a calming medicine I have severe oily skid therefore I break out, the pot help dry out my pores and calms my nerves. I have had to stop recently because looking for a new job and a possible drug test prohibits me getting where I want to be in my life. As of now I have all ready noticed facial breakouts with in the last couple of weeks. This is very frustrating. I really think that alcohol is a drug that is out of control and detramental to your health more so than pot! At what point does the DEA stop thinking that they are in the right to stop something that has been used for centuries by a number of different cultures. DEA is obviously ignorant to the studies and history of the uses. There is a fine line of abuse, but there is abuse of badges, power in government, abuse in alcohol, abuse with money and what it can buy. It has to be regulated. I am from southern California and we moved to the Midwest 5 years ago and if you get caught with an oz. you go directly jail. We are trying to save to come back and when our kids graduate from hs. we are moving to Norther Ca. and I will be attending in schooling to be a legal owner of a pot dispencery. I am looking forward to this and am right behind you. when the voting comes to fruition, which I can only hope it does there will be a difference and you and all who have voted yes to legalize it will have made a difference in many lives.

  124. Sab on

    This is too Eddy-

    Hey, I’m all for you, even though this is costly and I can only use my mind to try to imagine the costs, i want you to know, this is not all lost in vain.

    You see, when this happens to someone like you, you inspire the fight to legalize. You inspire people to stand up. Yes, it hurt you, but in order for change to take place, someone suffers so we all can learn from their mistakes.

    This time, it is not your mistake, it is the mixed State and federal laws that have made people seem like they made the mistake, but it is the local Govt and Govt. that have made a huge mistake.

    If California would jump on the opportunity to regulate how many farms for medical, how many allowed for Hemp only. How many dispensary in a certain amount of square miles in any given California city, then they could get it together.

    The problem is, we’re seeing a step here, a change there, and before you know it LA county has over 1300 dispensaries.

    The govt. needs to say, Okay, each county allowed 40, 20 acre farms in a 50 mile radius.

    Cities must allow a min. of 10 dispensaries in a 30 mile radius.

    Individuals allowed 6 immature, 6 budding and no more than 8 oz. in one container. Each person carry a MMJ card like Dr. Lic. state in which they live. Renew every four years.
    End of story.

    Hang in there Eddy, it just takes the one to lead the many!!!
    Thanks,
    Sab