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Medical marijuana laws havent slowed down criminal acts
Photo from a marijuana busts that took place during 2014 in Manteca. - photo by Bulletin file photo

Ask Manteca Police Chief Nick Obligacion about the compliance with California’s medical marijuana laws and he’ll make a simple observation: “It’s amazing how many 19-year-olds have back problems.”

Obligacion isn’t a fan of either the current medical marijuana law or proposals to push for a ballot measure legalizing pot use as has happened in Colorado and Washington.

A big reason is medical marijuana hasn’t stymied criminal activity as some supporters claimed would happen.  As like with other drugs — including abuse of legal prescriptions — marijuana use contributes to everything from some robbing and stealing to buy it to impaired judgment while driving.

Obligacion can rattle off a lengthy list of big marijuana busts since September that clearly were not cases of individuals growing marijuana for personal medicinal uses. They represent a potential $2 million plus in street value if all plants were brought to maturity with harvested crops sold on the street.

At the height of the 2014 harvest season between September and mid December, law enforcement made five large marijuana busts in the South County:

• Manteca Police seized 2,340 marijuana plants from a grow operation at 23000 South Manteca Road.  

• Ripon Police seized 200 plants and 200 pounds of dried marijuana at $400,000 in the 100 block of Goodwin Drive.

•  Manteca Police seized 180 pounds of pot and 54 plants in the 5700 block of Camanche Drive in Raymus Village.

• Manteca Police seized $300,000 worth of pot in the 5800 block of Carpenter Road near Highway 99.

• Lathrop Police shut down a $500,000 marijuana operation in the 500 block of Cold Springs Street inside a residence that had 1,000 plants.

Making matters worse police also seized weapons — including automatic guns — along with extensive ammunition from the pot grows that were all located in neighborhoods.

While he understands that some seriously ill individuals have found relief from the use of marijuana, he does not believe legalizing marijuana for such purposes was a good move especially the way it was  done.

Obligacion noted that it can take a considerable amount of time to see a doctor about aliments when you are sick. And even then they more often than not order blood tests and such to make sure they are making the right diagnosis.

The police chief noted numerous cases where doctors who didn’t have established patient-doctor relations with that will issue them a medical marijuana card on their first visit and do so in less than 10 minutes.

At the same time Senate Bill 1449 signed into law in 2004 that effectively reduced the charge of possession of up to one ounce of pot from a misdemeanor to an infraction similar to traffic citation didn’t slow down serious marijuana-related crime.

The court’s 2010 clarification of the voters’ passage of Proposition 215 four years earlier that legalized the growing and use of pot for legitimate medicinal purposes also didn’t abate illegal activity. 

In Manteca there were 247 narcotics offenses in 2011 compared to 216 last year.

Obligacion said one of the newer illegal uses of marijuana is through electronic cigarettes packed with THC packed marijuana oil. The use of the vapor devices for marijuana use has boomed since there is no telltale smoke.