July 29, 2009 – Editor’s Note: Eugene Davidovich is a medical marijuana patient who was arrested during Operation Endless Summer (also known as Operation Green Rx). He is currently being charged with four counts of possession, transportation and sale of marijuana but he believes he was targeted for being a medical marijuana patient. SDNN political editor Hoa Quach has invited him to blog about the charges brought forth against him and his trial. This is a blog entry by Davidovich, the views expressed here are his own and does not reflect the views of any SDNN employee.
It has now been over five months since my house was raided and I was arrested in Operation Green Rx [Operation Endless Summer]. In these five months my career, family, personal life, and everything else that used to make up the life of Eugene has dramatically and permanently changed.
Prior to the arrest I was working full-time at an IT company, managing e-commerce integration projects for large corporations. At the time, I was also studying to take the PMI Certification. I figured being certified as a professional project manager by the PMI Institute, combined with my years of experience, military service, and having completed a bachelor’s degree in Business and an MBA would surely help put me on the right track towards an excellent career in the corporate world and would allow me to secure a stable and comfortable future for my wife and son.
This all changed one morning in February, when armed detectives from the San Diego Police Department raided my house. They searched everything at home and found nothing of interest aside from piles of baby clothes, diapers, and mine and my wife’s clothes and personal belongings. After rummaging through our items and not finding anything illegal, I feel that the detectives became frustrated and decided to use psychological intimidation. It began with them telling my wife that our son would be taken, that we would lose all our belongings, that I was a danger, and how could she be married to someone like me, etc. The badgering went on for hours. I was kept in handcuffs for about eight hours that day, a good part of which I spent on my front porch, in front of my neighbors.
After being taken off in a police car, the officer took me to my storage unit, where the others detectives were already waiting. Having found nothing illegal there either, the detectives decided to take me to the precinct for one more round of questioning. Keep in mind, I had asked for an attorney and invoked my rights, immediately after the first detective told me I was under arrest.
At the precinct, the first 45 minutes I spent handcuffed in the back of the police car in the garage while some of the officers and detectives finished lunch. Once properly fed, they decided to continue the questioning. Detective Decastro ordered an officer to take me out of the car and place me on the chair in front of where Detective Decastro and an older gray haired detective sat. The questioning had hardly begun when Detective Decastro pulls out two black three inch plastic binders, opens one of them and tells me that I am not alone, and that he plans on bringing all us “medical pot people” down.
At this point I realized what this was about. I realized that this man sitting in front of me has no respect for the laws in place protecting patients from individuals specifically in his situation. The folders he pulled out contained the names of several dozen individuals he was investigating. Once he realized I was not planning on having any discussions with him, he quickly placed the binders back in the plastic box and wheeled it off.
Another plain closed officer was assigned to transport me to jail, and I was quickly rushed off to the San Diego jail, downtown. After spending some time in jail, the details of which I will discuss another time, I was bailed out, and finally made it home.
The raid, hours handcuffed and being paraded in front of my neighbors while my wife was being interrogated, as well as the psychological intimidation tactics used by the detectives both at my house and at the precinct, reminded me of the military. In some of the training and seminars I had gone through while in the Navy, they illustrated what being a prisoner of war would be like if captured, where psychological intimidation and warfare is used, detention, etc.
Two weeks later I was due for an arraignment in court which happened to land on the same day as San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis’ news conference about Operation Endless Summer. In this news conference she said “don’t mess with the military” and talked about cleaning up drug dealing on Navy bases.
When I walked into the courthouse I saw a camera there, and specifically asked the judge not to have my face shown on television as I was worried about my job. The judge denied my request and allowed the coverage to proceed. The evening news quickly picked up the story and that night showed video of me at the arraignment hearing, painting me as the poster child of this operation. They mentioned my name and showed my picture following the description of the total number of illegal drugs seized during Operation Endless Summer, with no mention of the fact that this was actually Operation Green Rx, and that not a single one of the images shown on television that night, or since has been an image of something that belonged or is alleged to belong to me.
The next day at work was awkward, to say the least. In fact, that night I was already receiving calls from coworkers asking if it was really me they had seen on television the night before. Needless to say, I was not able to remain there for long, and had to resign. In the few weeks following my arraignment, I was literally watching my life and everything I had worked very hard for completely be disassembled and destroyed.
What was most painful for me to see about the press conference and the initial news coverage was that my service to this country had been tainted and smeared making me out to be someone who preys on the military rather than a patriot and a veteran.
The little savings that I did have, went to bail, my attorney, and the other legal expenses, leaving me in a situation where I am now on the verge of bankruptcy and can no longer afford to retain my attorney. This means that I might be forced to either represent myself or go with a public defender, the majority of who are overloaded with the other cases.
The DA’s office as displayed at my preliminary hearing on July 13 has dedicated huge amounts of resources to prosecuting my case and damaging my reputation. There were several attorneys and investigators working together with the DA that day against me. The DA is not limited in their resources as I am.
In addition to this top notch prosecution team now focused on putting me away, the DA’s office has decided to remove any chance I could possibly have for getting a job in San Diego to help pay for my defense and try to get back on my feet, by labeling this a “High Profile” case.
My name now appears on the DA’s Web site in the “High Profile Cases Section.” It states that I am charged with transporting more than 28 grams making me out to be a narcotics trafficker, which simply is not true and a complete misrepresentation of the charges against me.
On Monday, I went in to court for another arraignment. This time instead of one camera, there were several there to film the proceedings. My attorney and I both answered a few questions to one of the reporters who requested an interview. The arraignment was allowed to be continued August 28. This was per my request to have more time to try to raise money to keep my defense attorney and not have to switch to a public defender.
I plan on raising the money to retain my one defense attorney, Mike McCabe, to defend me from this prosecution team and this smear campaign through grassroots fund raising efforts. There are many in the community who are demanding answers to why these bias driven prosecutions are allowed to continue, why the District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis publicly says she support safe access and medical cannabis while at the same time in court allows the designation of detectives as chief investigative officers on medical cases, when their medical training is based on a handout that states cannabis is illegal, a highly addictive narcotic, and is not medicine.
If the narcotics task force, the county, and the DA’s office would invest even a third of the effort and funding into productive outreach to medical collectives and began to actually work with patients instead of creating roadblocks and these bias driven prosecutions, then I am certain that all the public concerns would have already been addressed with relation to medical cannabis collectives, legal zoning ordinances and permits for collectives would be an issue of the past as it is with many cities in California, and I would still be happily building a career managing projects, raising my son, and focusing on my future rather than having to fight for something that has been sanctioned under state law for over thirteen years.
It is now more crucial than ever for supporters, patients, doctors, law enforcement officials, and our health department to continue the dialog recently started by the City Council in the last few weeks. It is also just as critical for the people of San Diego to see with transparency these cases and demand accountability from the people behind these investigations. The senseless waste and harassment needs to stop.
The solution is not bans, moratoriums, or prosecutions. Outright bans result in lawsuits, moratoriums in years of stalling and extensions of the moratoriums with no clarification for patients, and prosecutions result in patients and collectives having to operate so deeply underground that any potential benefit they could be bringing to the community is stifled by the environment of fear.
The solution will only be discovered through collaboration, outreach, understanding, and education of between all the parties involved. Until there is clarity patients will continue to suffer, our law enforcement will continue to operate under “vague laws”, and the lives of innocent law abiding citizens will continue to be destroyed by a select bias driven few. By Eugene Davidovich. Source.