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Medical marijuana supporters speak out after alleged armed robbery

Security is important for cannabis patients, physician says
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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A recent robbery that involved a medical marijuana theft has some speaking out about concerns and asking local residents to use security to keep themselves and their medical cannabis supply safe. At presstime Wednesday Robin Oscar Tipton, 20, of Sacramento, David Eugene Thomas, 23, of Sacramento, and Duane Edward Patton II, 23, of Elk Grove, were still in custody in Placer County Jail after being arrested July 7 for allegedly bursting into an Auburn couple’s home and stealing medical marijuana, cash and other property, according to Dena Erwin, spokeswoman for the Placer County Sheriff’s Office. According to Erwin, the victims knew one of the men. Erwin said the men allegedly brandished a small silver handgun throughout the robbery and told the couple to stay in a confined area of the home. The three men were caught and arrested by Sheriff’s deputies in Roseville less than 30 minutes after the robbery, Erwin said. According to Dave Tellman, the senior Placer County deputy district attorney working on the case, each man is charged with one felony count of robbery and one felony count of false imprisonment. Tipton and Thomas are ineligible for bail on parole holds and Patton is in custody with a $100,000 bail. According to Placer County Superior Court records, the three are scheduled for arraignments at 8:30 a.m. Thursday in Auburn’s Placer County Jail courtroom. Dr. Sean Devlin is a physician at the Highland Springs Wellness Center in Grass Valley. Devlin said the center sometimes give patients recommendations to take medical marijuana. Devlin said he had heard of similar incidents and called the alleged robbery “atrocious.” Many of the center’s patients are blue-collar workers who are just trying to get by in today’s economy and need the medical marijuana for a variety of ailments, so someone stealing it causes a big problem, Devlin said. “We care for some critically ill patients here who use it on a daily basis, and if they don’t have it, they get set way back,” he said. Devlin said when patients are growing or using medical marijuana, security should be a major concern, and that incidents like the robbery can happen when too many people know about the cannabis. “The real issue behind security is I think too many people are out either letting people know or making it obvious they have medical cannabis growing on their property, or the location is obvious to the community,” Devlin said. Devlin said to provide more security, patients should try not to talk about their medical marijuana, just like they wouldn’t openly talk about other medications they are taking. “It makes as much sense as doing that,” Devlin said. “Most people keep that private and maybe just share it with intimate partners or confidants.” Another part of security can be where plants are grown, as growing them outdoors is a lot more obvious than indoors. However, those who are recommended to grow medical cannabis at home are supposed to post a statement stating that, Devlin said. “Ultimately if someone suspects you have medical marijuana or grow marijuana, you are going to be a target unfortunately,” he said. Several ways to provide security include having a dog, a caretaker or cameras on the property, Devlin said. Bob Henry, manager of Golden State Patient Care Collective in Colfax, which sells medical marijuana, said he feels badly for the victims of the alleged robbery. “Our take on it is we are compassionate to people, and the people we see come in here, they come in here for advice … and we give it to them,” Henry said. “And we know how hard it is for them to be able to achieve growing their own medical marijuana, and for someone to come take it is cold hearted.” Henry said he thinks once medical cannabis is stolen, it can cause problems in the community. “I think it’s a real shame that element comes into it, because people who usually steal it, I wouldn’t think they are going to do anything good with it,” Henry said. “That’s what makes it looks bad for the whole picture.” Devlin said people robbing others of medical marijuana is a continuing problem and he hopes law enforcement takes the incidents as seriously as other crimes. Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com ---------------------------------------------------- Recent drug-related crimes July 7 – Robin Oscar Tipton, David Eugene Thomas and Duane Edward Patton II allegedly robbed an Auburn home on Dry Creek Road of medical marijuana and other property. July 5 – Two adults, Anthony James McDonald-Randolph, of Pittsburg, Calif., and Bradley Montrell Lee, of Bastrop, La., and one 17-year-old juvenile were arrested in Roseville after an alleged illegal marijuana sale turned into an armed robbery at a parking lot at the Galleria mall. Nov. 9, 2010 – Half siblings Ruthie Ann Barnes and Zane Aaron Davis, of Lincoln, were arrested after what they alleged was a drug deal turned into a shootout in Auburn’s Super 8 Motel. July 9, 2010 – Two unknown men robbed an Auburn woman inside her Dorer Drive home in Auburn, taking her oxycontin pills. The woman was a cancer patient and suffered from a disease of the nervous system. Jan. 2, 2010 – Christopher Teachout, of North San Juan in Nevada County, and Terry McLeod, of Sacramento, were arrested in Nevada County after a home invasion robbery possibly involving marijuana, turned into a fatal highway car chase. The robbery took place on the 12000 block of Tobacco Road in the North San Juan area.