A case against a pot grower arrested in June went up in smoke Thursday, and it’s led officials to talk about a registry for legitimate growers in The City.
On June 10, police raided a home on Crestmont Drive. Officers arrested Cody Phillips, 28, and confiscated 162 plants, several bags of marijuana, cash and growing equipment.
Prosecutors charged the case even though there was some confusion about the legitimacy of the grower’s papers. Cmdr. John Loftus had said the home had problems with its electrical wiring, and PG&E was called to the house at one point.
The case brought an onslaught of attention from medical cannabis advocates, who were outraged that police arrested Phillips even though he grew medical cannabis for a legal operation called Axis of Love. Marijuana cultivation and possession remains a federal offense, but it’s legal for medicinal use in California — a source of legal conflict.
Outside the Hall of Justice on Thursday, Phillips walked free. He has another court hearing to recover the growing supplies confiscated by police during the raid. His attorney, Derek St. Pierre, said police could’ve saved a lot of time and taxpayer dollars had they checked with the Axis of Love.
“Police were left with a question mark and look what they did,” St. Pierre said. “All this could have been avoided with a phone call.”
A city commission is looking to make it even easier than making a phone call. Today, the Marijuana Offenses Oversight Committee is slated to meet to discuss a registry that would track legal growing operations in San Francisco.
Currently, the Department of Public Health keeps a list of legitimate medical marijuana growers, although it’s not shared with police.
One member of the marijuana committee, Catherine Smith, said there have been 71 raids on grow houses in the past year. Many of those have happened in the Taraval police district, which includes the Sunset district.
Police cite issues about illegal wiring and fire hazards as the impetus behind many raids.
25 Plants allowed with one recommendation*
162 Plants found at Cody Phillips’ home
5 Recommendations Phillips had with Axis of Love
71 Police raids, June 2009 to June 2010
* Similar to prescription
Sources: SFPD, Marijuana Offenses Oversight Committee