Drug War Overkill: A Pot Bust Against Legal Growers in Yolo County Seems to Go Too Far

Article by Robin Abcarian, Los Angeles Times

If ever you needed proof that we live in an age of confusion about marijuana laws, let me share with you the story of Ted Hicks and Ryan Mears, two Sacramento-area entrepreneurs who decided to start a legal medical cannabis business last year and ended up on the business end of assault rifles wielded by officers from a multi-agency, anti-drug task force.

I first heard about the case from Yolo County Supervisor Don Saylor in September, at a “State of Marijuana” conference aboard the Queen Mary in Long Beach. Saylor, who was on a panel discussing how cities and counties were dealing with cannabis regulation, said that Hicks and Mears and their business, Big Red Farms, were considered by county officials to be “shining stars” in the cannabis licensing arena.

“They looked for guidance, they complied, they set up irrigation systems, drainage, applied for Water Quality Control Board permits, all in place, then something like this happens,” said Saylor, who compared the raids, which took place simultaneously at four locations, to “terrorist activity.”

“The children are traumatized,” he said, “and the grown-ups are still shaking from the experience.”

I can confirm the part about the grown-ups. I sat with Hicks and Mears on Wednesday in the office of their Sacramento attorney, Mark Reichel, and both grew tearful as they recalled the terror they felt when dozens of gun-wielding officers pounded on their front doors the morning of Sept. 14.

“I told my 2-year-old son to stay upstairs,” said Mears, 35. “When I opened the security door, there were 15 cops with assault rifles drawn, pointed, with their fingers on the trigger, in vests, ski masks. They grabbed me and pulled me out front, put me in handcuffs. There were 20 to 30 officers. My son walked downstairs and my wife had to grab him. They had guns pulled on them. It was real painful.”

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