The Neverending Trial of James Benno and Sons

On a sunny Saturday afternoon in an undisclosed Redding location, James Benno was choosing his words very carefully. Who can blame him? I'm asking him questions about concentrated cannabis, and just two days earlier, the Shasta County District Attorney's office had announced it intends to retry Benno and his adult sons, Jacob and Logan, on one felony count each of manufacturing concentrated cannabis.

From left to right, James Benno, attorney Joseph Tully, Logan Benno and Jacob Benno

From left, James Benno, attorney Joseph Tully, Logan Benno and Jacob Benno.

That's worth a maximum seven years in the county jail, according to the prosecution.

The decision comes at the end of a seven-week trial in which two judges (the first had to recuse himself for a still-unknown reason) and a jury exonerated the Bennos of 17 of the 19 felony charges brought against them by Shasta County.

However, the jury hung on two charges, manufacturing concentrated cannabis and conspiracy to manufacture. The DA dropped the conspiracy charge, but intends to pursue the manufacturing charge, which is by no means a slam-dunk case for either party.

The manufacturing charges stem from a batch of medicinal cannabis oil found on a kitchen stovetop three years ago during a Shasta County law enforcement raid on the 99-plant medical marijuana collective Benno and his sons operated in Happy Valley. As has been well-publicized, some of that oil was intended for a toddler with an inoperable brain tumor, who later died sans treatment.

Benno can’t discuss specifics involving the cannabis oil found on his stove, other than to note he was not making Butane Honey Oil. If he was making anything—and he’s not saying he was—it was medicine for patients, not dabs for juvenile delinquents.

Cannabis oil can be ingested—inserted in a feeding tube, for example—enabling patients with severe lung disease, end-stage cancer, neurological disorders and other illnesses to consume a therapeutic dose. Benno was trying to think up some way he could talk about all this when he happened to recall one of the first patients he helped.

It was some years ago. The patient was a man with multiple sclerosis, bedridden and atrophied by illness. Family members had contacted Benno after hearing about the benefits of cannabis oil. The man was on his deathbed when he began treatment. Today's he's able to get about with a wheelchair. Benno talks about a half-dozen other patients, three with cancer, one with muscular dystrophy, another with Hepatitis C and the aforementioned toddler with the tumor.

He becomes quite animated when talking about the people he's helped, and even though he's become financially impoverished simply making the payments on his bail—originally set at $500,000, an absurd amount generally reserved for heinous crimes—you get the feeling given everything he knows now he'd turn around and do the exact same thing given a second chance, so jazzed does he get helping people. He's a medical marijuana true-believer of the highest order.

One of the questions Benno can't answer at this time is whether or not he intends to sue Shasta County for financial and personal damages should he and his sons prevail in the second trial. Shasta County law enforcement confiscated 100 plants, pots - dirt and all - from the Bennos and destroyed it. In the past, he's estimated the value of the certified-organic dirt alone at several million dollars.

Last Saturday, all he could say was, “I want my dirt back. I want my life back.”

Prosecution Versus The Defense

Judging from comments on local news websites and social media, I think it's safe to say I wasn't the only person surprised by Shasta County's decision to retry the Bennos on the single felony charge.

One over-arching theme of the comments was, “Why is the county spending money on another trial, when we have undermanned police and sheriff departments, a dire problem with transient crime, and a jail that's so overcrowded there's not enough room to lock up truly violent criminals?”

Another shared theme was the notion that Shasta County is pursuing a new trial because if it can't make a least one charge stick to the Bennos, the county has laid itself wide-open for a multi-million dollar civil suit.

SC DA Bridgett

Head Shasta County District Attorney Stephanie Bridgett defended the decision to retry the Bennos.

While senior deputy district attorney Ben Hanna has been leading the prosecution's case, I figured the decision to retry must have come from the top, so I emailed newly-minted head District Attorney Stephanie Bridgett about the case. After first stating my well-known bias in favor of the Bennos, I asked the following questions:

  1. Is Shasta County continuing to prosecute the Bennos because it fears that if the Bennos are exonerated, they will turn around and sue Shasta County for personal and property damages, including attorney fees?
  2. The "manufacturing a controlled substance" law is weak, unclear and not likely to play well in front of a jury (again), considering the substance in question was allegedly being manufactured for kids and adults with seizure disorders. How can Shasta County hope to prevail in this case?
  3. Who was involved, besides yourself, in the decision to prosecute this case further?

Bridgett graciously provided an outline of the prosecution's theory of the case that does a fair job of answering all three questions in one paragraph:

“Thanks for bringing your concerns to my attention. I’d like to assure you that the decision to prosecute any case is based upon the facts and the law. We do not consider civil liability. Under California law, manufacturing a controlled substance, is not protected conduct under medical marijuana laws including proposition 64. This is because manufacturing concentrated cannabis presents a serious risk of fire and/or explosion which puts our communities at risk. We respect the jurors decision as to the counts they decided, however, we believe the remaining manufacturing count can be proved beyond a reasonable doubt based upon the strength of the evidence. Prosecution of this remaining count will be a much shorter process and will not divert resources away from any other prosecutions.”

Naturally, James Benno's defense attorney, Joseph Tully, who's batting a thousand when it comes to defending medical marijuana cases in Shasta County, begs to differ with Bridgett on a few key points, in particular the notion that the county brings cases strictly based on the facts and the law. In the Benno case, nowhere was the opposite more clear than the felony weapon charges brought because of the extended-round magazines found during the search of the collective. Many observers of the case thought these would be the toughest charges to beat. They turned out to be the easiest.

“When the law against high capacity magazines came out, it only punished the seller, importer, whoever brought the magazines to the table, but NOT the buyer, or the person who received the magazine,” Tully explained via email.

“To buy or receive only became illegal after January 1, 2014. It’s still not illegal to possess a high capacity magazine. That goes into effect in July of this year. The only evidence that the DA had in our case was that James received at least one magazine in 2011 or 2012 and that all the magazines were manufactured in 2011 or 2012. Nonetheless, without ANY evidence that James had broken the law, Hanna proceeded to trial on nine felony counts against James. When there was ZERO evidence produced at trial that James had purchased or received any magazines after it became illegal, the judge had no choice but to dismiss those charges at trial. This is a VERY RARE occurrence.”

That's exactly what James Benno told me about the magazines two years ago, when I first interviewed him, and as it turns out, Benno was correct. Of course, in court it helps to have a good lawyer doing the talking for you. Good lawyers don't come cheap, and Tully, as well as the two attorneys defending Benno's sons have been basically working pro bono, because they believed in their clients' innocence. I asked Tully how big of a bill he's rung up.

“Consider a reasonable salary of $250 an hour for a trial attorney times 10 to 18 hrs a day, multiply that by 3 lawyers for 7 weeks at 3 days a week,” he explained. “The night before closing argument, I worked 22 nonstop hours. Add in meals and hotels. This is just for trial. Consider all the hours spent in trial preparation including all the motions that we filed as well as all the other court dates.”

Translation: That's a lot of money, at least hundreds of thousands of dollars between the three defense attorneys, who have indicated they will remain on board for the retrial. An unknown amount has been spent by the prosecution—rumor has it that the local daily is looking into the  public cost of the first trial, and the results should prove interesting.

Like Benno, Tully refused to discuss the specifics of the manufacturing charge, but said he was confident the Bennos will prevail again.

“I have to be vague here for now, but we are going to attack it on many levels,” Tully said. “Know that none of the Bennos broke any laws in making cannabis oil for patients.”

While neither Bridgett nor Tully was willing to discuss a potential civil suit against Shasta County should the Bennos prevail a second time, there's no question that's the tension now underlying the case. I asked Tully if the Bennos have the makings of a successful civil suit and he declined to answer.

“You’d have to ask a civil attorney,” he said. “I don’t even see DAs or law enforcement ever feel bad when they’ve been proven wrong. How does [the Shasta County Sheriff's deputy in charge of the raid on Benno] feel knowing that this bust very likely contributed to the early death of a child patient of James?”

The Bennos next appearance in court is April 28, when a new trial date will be set.

Click here for other R.V. Scheide stories related to the Benno trial. 

R.V. Scheide
R.V. Scheide has been a northern California journalist for more than 20 years. He appreciates your comments and story ideas.
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132 Responses

  1. cheyenne says:

    What I find ironic about this case is that California voters voted in legal MMJ in 1996.  Wyoming and Utah, two states that refuse to decriminalize marijuana, have  legalized the use of cannabis oil.  Neither state is set up to distribute the oil but as one legislator said, they wanted parents to be able to bring in cannabis oil from Colorado without fear of breaking state laws.

  2. CoachBob says:

    DA says they never never consider civil liability. Of course they don’t. They also don’t consider taxpayers $$’s be spent on this. If it was coming out of their paychecks they’d have a completely different view.

  3. Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

    This all seems like a magnificent waste of LE and DA resources, given the bigger problems we face around here.  What’s called for is better, more rational zoning.  If I lived next to the Bennos, I wouldn’t want a fortress on the other side of the fence, defended by semi-automatic rifles with high-capacity magazines (setting aside how and when the magazines were obtained).  If that’s the kind of security that’s needed for a 99-plant grow operation, the whole shiteree belongs in a warehouse on Highway 273 South or some such place.  Not next to my property.

    I’m fine (in general) with the prosecution of those who set up labs in residences to process marijuana into cannabis oil—I’ve read enough accounts of explosions, fires, and horrific injuries.  One such explosion and fire occurred in downtown Redding across the street from my office building.  The burnt building—an outbuilding behind a once-proud craftsman-style house—remains boarded up and un-repaired, and the house abandoned, lending to downtown Redding’s blight. Rumor is the property now has substantial hazmat liabilities.

    As for the “Think of the children!” nonsense employed by Mr. Bennos and his lawyers in defending his alleged manufacture of cannabis oil, well…….best hope I’m not called upon to chair the next jury.  I recognize a cheap rhetorical device when I see one.  (I almost certainly just got myself excluded by posting this comment.)

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      The rhetorical device’s name was Spencer.

      • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

        Oh, please.  The rhetorical devise is using Spencer’s death to buy yourself some slack. Doubling down on that rhetoric on behalf of the Bennos doesn’t turn it into something else.

        I would not have denied that child anything that comforted him in his last days, but it’s not like you can’t buy extract locally from the dispensaries.  If I’m wrong about that……well……aren’t I the biggest jerk-head in the room?

        As much as I hate the triteness of the cliché,  it seems like “follow the money” applies to this story. The Benno clan seems to be largely motivated by profit rather than altruism—they certainly appear to have a lot invested in defending their grow site, including formidable weaponry.  To me, it’s just common sense that a farm commodity requiring that level of security ought not to be grown in a neighborhood of hobby ranches.

        As for LE, I seriously doubt that our Sheriff’ would put anywhere near the time and energy into this issue if it weren’t for federal subsidies. Our Sheriff is perhaps intellectually incapable of considering sensible cost/benefit analyses from the public’s perspective, and can only see through the lens of how an issue affects his department’s budget. Or maybe he’s an irrational wild-eyed crusader who thinks that drinking a case of beer is fine, but taking a hit off of a joint makes you a degenerate. Neither possibility would shock the shoes off of my feet.

        To me, the growers who are the most egregious lawbreakers  in Shasta County—the ones who should receive nearly 100% of LE’s attention—are: (1) growing pot on public lands, or (2) growing pot on private lands, irrigated by illegal diversions.  As far as I can tell from your articles, the Bennos are neither.

        • Rod says:

          Yes, here is where you and I stand together on solid ground Steve.  The ability to differentiate between positive and negative actions by people.

          The harmful effects of lawlessness on our shared natural resources must be stopped.  I don’t have a middle ground on this.  Prohibition has been the engine which propelled the guerilla growers into prominence.  Stealing land usage and water is an irresponsible act of sneaky-snakes who use MMJ as a shield.  Oh yeah, it’s the pursuit of money.


        • James Benno says:

           The Benno clan seems to be largely motivated by profit rather than altruism—they certainly appear to have a lot invested in defending their grow site, including formidable weaponry.  To me, it’s just common sense that a farm commodity requiring that level of security ought not to be grown in a neighborhood of hobby ranches.


          Your Comment Screams I grew for profit .   “follow the money” applies to this story. You labeled me an ‘ ARMED DRUG DEALER ” found not guilty . You label MY FAMILY a Clan .  Therefore I can’t take one word from you seriously. Profit LOL. And suggesting I used Spencer as some sort of Human Shield makes me sick and if your OK with that maybe it is you who needs to do some self reflection before thinking of commenting again.

          • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

            Mr. Benno:

            1.  I did not call you an armed drug dealer.  Your quotation marks around that fall short of basic honesty.  According to R.V.s story, the cops confiscated some serious weaponry, and you were charged with possession of high-capacity magazines.  I understand that you were acquitted.  That doesn’t  mean that you didn’t have the weapons.

            2.  I referred to your family as a clan.  I’m sorry if you took offense—I don’t know why you feel that the term is derogatory.  I meant absolutely no insult.  Feel free to refer to my family as Clan Towers.

            3.  As for profit motive, I assume you grew marijuana to sell it, and that your intent was to make money.  I understand that you’re probably upside-down because of your legal woes, but I’m not convinced that it was ever your intent to lose money.  A profit motive does not bar you from having altruistic motives as well.  I’m not denying that you want to help people.

            4.  Regarding the toddler, I’m having a hard time backing off what I said.  If I were his parent or grandparent, I wouldn’t want him being used as a prop in this debate.  The implication in the story is that he was denied a potentially helpful medicine because you weren’t allowed to provide it to him.  For that to be true, you would have to have been the only source within 250 miles.  That just doesn’t ring true.  If it was true, then you’re right, and aren’t I the ass?

        • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

          It takes a real tough guy to tackle a toddler with a tumor. I suppose if you were a defense attorney, you wouldn’t use it in a jury trial, cause principles.

          Your notion that Benno was in this for the profit motive is completely uniformed. And frankly, it’s kind of insulting to me. I’ve been around a lot of growers. I know there’s plenty of bad operators out there. Benno isn’t one of them, in my opinion, which is based on actually meeting the guy in person, talking to people who know him, and studying the evidence against him.

          Of course, maybe the opinion you pulled out of your hat is just as valid. But FYI, he’s a lower middle class individual who waited till his sons were grown and out of the home before purchasing an AR-15, which as a gun enthusiast he had always lusted after, but as a single father, couldn’t justify the expense.

          I would have never defended Benno if I didn’t believe he’s a medical marijuana true believer. To me, that’s what makes him interesting. And the fact is, the bad operators always get off because they can afford attorneys. Benno can’t. He can’t even afford to pay his bail.

          Looking at raw budget numbers, and it’s extremely hard to track all the federal money flowing through the various “interagency narcotics” task forces, I don’t see any large amounts jumping out at me that justifies LE participating in these activities, especially after the change in asset seizure law. I haven’t crunched them hard, but between busting people, sending them to trial,  incarcerating the guilty and paying off civil suits, it looks like a wash.


          • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

            R.V. — Foul. I did not tackle a toddler with a tumor.  I tackled you.  “But think of the children!” is a weaksauce rhetorical device as it is, but it’s especially cheap when it doesn’t pass the sniff test.  As I commented above, for it to be true that the toddler was denied medicine, we have to believe that Mr. Benno was the only provider of what that toddler needed. That implicit assertion is not only unproved, it’s not even acknowledged out loud (until I tacked it to the kiosk).

            As for profit, I don’t know where you and Mr. Benno get the idea that I believe that being motivated by profit and being motivated by a desire help others are mutually exclusive.  I’m an environmental consultant who unapologetically works to produce a profit that I share with my family and employees.  I am also a “true believer” in environmental conservation.  Following from those values—as I have said repeatedly—my beef isn’t with Mr. Benno and his type. It’s with the growers who are trashing public lands, and stealing water that’s not theirs to the detriment of our salmon runs.

        • Shasta Heart says:

          Shame on you. For starters, the Bennos were found innocent of all weapons charges, and the judge threw out the magazine charges, himself. In court it was proven that they did not use, their legal guns (remember the 2nd amendment, or do you only rely on the law when it suits your agenda) in protecting their garden. Additionally, you are completely ignorant to the various ways in which cannabis can be processed into an oil. The “labs” you referred to, as blowing up, are butane labs. The police found no butane on their property, not even so much as an empty can. They also admitted on the stand, that they had nothing to even suggest that Logan Benno was involved in any of it, yet they insisted on proceeding with charges against him, because they are trying to use his sons to get James to plea guilty on charges he did not commit. That’s, basically, legal kidnapping & extortion. Do you believe everything your masters tell you? And, how dare you refer to a child, who lost his life following the theft of his legal (now determined in a court of law) medicine.

          • Barbara Rice Barbara Rice says:

            Shasta Heart,

            Opinions of all kinds are welcome here. Personal attacks on others are not. I have removed parts of your comments.

          • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

            Shame on me?  For having an opinion you don’t like?

            Someone else pointed out that gun charges are often levied at growers as leverage to get them to plead guilty—the gun charges are dropped in exchange for pleading guilty to the other charges.  I merely suggested that growers consider not arming themselves, so as to remove that leverage.  Nothing in my suggestion had anything to do with the 2nd Amendment.  Mr. Benno, if he resumes growing again, can arm himself to the teeth, far as I’m concerned. I’m just not convinced that’s in his best interests, based on what someone else said. Nowhere did I imply that he shouldn’t be allowed to have an arsenal on his property. Knock yourself out, Mr. Benno.

            In court it was proven that they did not use, their legal guns…. in protecting their garden.”

            That’s like saying that in court it was proved that Mr. Benno never puts on his left sock before his right sock in the morning. Or that he never uses his dishwasher. Or that he never blinks between noon and 4:00 pm on weekends.  How would you prove any such negative? Logic-free nonsense.

            And, how dare you refer to a child, who lost his life following the theft of his legal (now determined in a court of law) medicine.”

            How dare I refer to him? I dared because he was brought up in the article, that’s how.  I’m not the one who made a deceased child a chess piece in the conflict between the Benno family and the Sheriff. Frankly, it frosts my @$$ a little that the kid’s memory is being used in that manner.

            “Do you believe everything your masters tell you?”

            Child, please. You don’t know me at all.

        • Shasta Heart says:

          Spencer’s mom, Suzzetta, spoke to the Record Searchlight, and explained that although other cannabis strains made him more comfortable, only Benno’s API (specifically developed for medicinal use, with a very low THC level, and high CBD level) actually shrunk her child’s inoperable brain tumors, and she had the MRI’s to prove it. So, don’t try to claim that you care for this child, when you want to throw away the man who risked everything to save his life.

          The jury found all three of them innocent of all but 2 charges, in a couple of hours. The jury also informed the court that the reason they could not determine the last two charges is because the language in the law is so vague, that nobody could explain it to them. Without understanding the law, itself, it was hard to come up with a verdict.

          Also during the trial, the sheriff admitted to not following proper procedure, in determining if the garden was legal. Had they simply followed their own procedures they would have saved the tax payers a lot of money, and saved a child’s life.  So, no, the loss of that child is not something to be dismissed. He was a victim of chosen incompetence, from a sheriff’s office that put their personal vendetta above a 2 year old’s life.

    • Bobbi says:

      Mr Towers … Rick Simpson Oil does not “blow up”…that is Butane Honey Oil…get your “facts” right…before you threaten to do harm with your preconceived guilty verdict… YouTube it ..anyone can. Theres a difference.

      Good job RV.

      • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

        Bobbi — I don’t claim to be an expert.  I’m just a guy who has read a lot about local oil extraction labs exploding, and who has a daily visible reminder of that across the street from my office.  I have no idea what “Rick Simpson Oil” is—it’s not mentioned in R.V.’s article.  What he does mention is the presence cannabis oil on Benno’s stove, along with Benno’s claim that he used 180-proof alcohol in the extraction process.  I assume that the alcohol (like butane in producing BHO) serves as a solvent—feel free to educate me if I’m wrong.  I also assume that it’s on the stove for the purpose of applying heat to the solution, maybe to evaporate the alcohol solvent. Just guessing. Regardless of my conjecture, 180-proof alcohol is bigly flammable, as I’m sure you know. Says so right on the bottle.

        I also read this in R.V.’s story, from our D.A.’s reply to him:  

        “Under California law, manufacturing a controlled substance, is not protected conduct under medical marijuana laws including proposition 64. This is because manufacturing concentrated cannabis presents a serious risk of fire and/or explosion which puts our communities at risk.”

        Her statement explains the manufacturing charge that she intends to re-file.  If I’m ignorant and uneducated, so apparently is our D.A.  Maybe she’s even got reason to believe that Benno used butane, not Everclear. I’ll bet that oil left on Benno’s stove is being tested for residual butane. Wanna bet against it?

        P.S.  I’ve re-read my original post several times, and I can’t find where I threatened anyone.  I didn’t even imply guilt.  I said I’m fine “in general” with prosecuting those who set up labs in residences—I worded it that way to make clear that I wasn’t specifically talking about the Bennos.  Weigh that against your implicit threat: “I hope they remember your name.”  That’s pretty specifically about me.

        • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

          I meant to type “highly” flammable and left out the “h”……and my autocorrect is now correcting “higly” to “bigly.”

          Just more proof that we’re in the End Times.

        • Matthew Meyer says:

          “Rick Simpson Oil” is classically made with naphtha.

          Many other solvents can also be used. The relevant law (H&S 11362.3) mentions several of them, not including ethyl alcohol.

          The law is pretty clear that mechanical means of concentrating cannabis are legal, such as “ice-water hash,” and that it’s “chemical solvents” that are not allowed.

          It’s worth noting that ethyl alcohol fumes, while volatile, do not present the same hazard as butane because they do not tend to pool on the floor. Most accidents with butane occur when piezoelectric sparks or other unexpected ignition sources combust pooled fumes.

          Anecdotally, I have never heard of any fires caused by using an ethyl alcohol method, nor am I aware of any convictions stemming from making cannabis oil with etoh.


        • Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

          Unless things have changed in the last year or so, I believe that the Department of Justice doesn’t test for residual butane. The reason? Butane must be used to determine whether there are traces of butane, and the DOJ judged the testing protocol as too hazardous.

          “Wanna bet against it?”

          Well, I’m not so confident that I’ll bet my life savings. Again, the DOJ could have changed its policy in the last year or so. But, I will bet a few craft beers and an Uber ride.

        • Shasta Heart says:

          For starters, Benno never admitted to using alcohol, to manufacture oil. He admitted to using it for other reasons, but not that. Second, as to the danger of it, Master Chef Jr. has 7 year olds cooking flambe’s, which not only involves heating alcohol, but even lighting it on fire. How is it that a child cooking with alcohol is considered safe, but an adult is not?

          So, are you suggesting that we should now outlaw Cherries Jubilee, Bourbon Baked Beans, and Tequila Chicken? How about vanilla extract (exact same method), or the extraction of any essential oils? Anyone who has ever cooked a flambe’, or served a “flaming” cocktail, knows that alcohol evaporates very quickly with heat. So fast, that if you don’t light your flambe’ within seconds, it will not light on fire, because it no longer contains enough alcohol, to be flammable.

        • Shasta Heart says:

          They did test the oil, and it showed no butane in it, at all. This was established during the trial.

      • Bobbi, we accept and value opinions, but reject personal attacks. For that reason I have edited your comment and removed the name-calling.

    • James Benno says:

      A Jury of Twelve found the following . Deal with it.

      Nine  counts High Capacity Magazines = Not Guilty

      Resisting or Delaying an Officer = Not Guilty

      Armed in the Commission of a Felony = Not Guilty

      Felony Cultivation = Not Guilty

      Possession of Marijuana For Sale = Not Guilty

      Running a Drug House = Not Guilty

      Conspiracy to Manufacture Butane Honey Oil = Not Guilty

      Possession of Concentrated Cannabis = Not Guilty


      • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

        Mr. Benno, if that’s directed at me, I’m dealing with it just fine.  Congrats on all of the favorable verdicts.  Here’s to continued success sticking it to The Man.

        You’ve possibly mistaken me for a prohibitionist.  I’m not.  As for restrictions on growing, my thinking is that if you’re paying for your irrigation water and your neighbors aren’t complaining about your operation, more power to you.  I wouldn’t want a fortress with heavily armed guards next to my property in Palo Cedro, but you’re not in Palo Cedro. If your neighbors in Happy Valley couldn’t care less, why should I?

        As I made clear elsewhere, it’s growers who are on public lands and/or those who are stealing water that most concern me.  I’ve read nothing to suggest that you’re in either camp.

        • James Benno says:

          The only one complaining was the cop flying the pork chopper and nobody was

          ” ARMED ” thus not guilty of Armed During the Commission of a Felony .

      • Rod says:

        James, the “conspiracy to manufacture butane honey oil = not guilty.  To me equates that investigation into the subject proves you didn’t do it.  Am I seeing correctly?


    • Joanne Lobeski Snyder says:

      Steve, I understand you objection to mentioning a child with a inoperable brain tumor in this argument.  The treatments would have been palliative,  and not a cure.  Unless I am mistaken about cannabis as a cure for cancer.


      • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

        Joanne — R.V.’s article refers to the therapeutic (healing) properties of MMJ. Those claims are commonplace among MMJ proponents—I have a relative in the MJ business who says right out loud that selective breeding will soon give us MMJ strands that cure diabetes, cancer, athlete’s foot, etc.  I’m a biologist, and I take those claims as seriously as I would take the claim that soon we will have tomatoes that you can’t tell from fried chicken, courtesy of selective breeding.

        I don’t really object to bringing up the child with the inoperable brain tumor in this discussion.  If the argument is that he should have had MMJ available in oil form as a palliative, I’m 100% sympathetic to that argument. I think it goes way over the line to suggest that the DA has the toddler’s death on her hands because the kid was denied medicine, if that’s the intended subtext.

        From the article:  As has been well-publicized, some of that oil was intended for a toddler with an inoperable brain tumor, who later died sans treatment. 

        That can be parsed two ways, and one of them is that the toddler died because he was denied MMJ treatment. That’s nonsense.  I also find it hard to swallow the insinuation that the kid’s parents could not obtain MMJ in liquid form because of Benno’s situation. The stuff is available locally at MMJ dispensaries.

        • Rod says:

          Steve, you’re caught in your own circuitous dialog.  Selective breeding.

          Cannabis and children are subject to everything you described.  My anecdotal experience is down to Earth.  What works for me and mine also works for Cannabis breeders.  The difference is…people breed randomly and Cannabis breeders breed selectively.  Your biology background can explain this better than I.

          I’m currently working on aroma control.  Most complaints eventually get around to the skunk smell as being bad (I sorta like it).  I’ve been able to isolate a couple strains who pass the sniff test.  There’s also a couple of strains who are spider mite immune.  It should be understandable that some of our local Shasta strains are star achieving growers and producers.  The spectrum of possibilities are mind boggling.

          My regret in selective breeding is that I bred for potency.  I did quite well,  too well.  I’m now abandoning potency in favor of broad spectrum medicinal help for people who want the herbal goodness and less of the higher than a kite effect.  As with any herbal medicine…dosage can be medicine or poison.

          The young man was tuned into James’s medicine.  There wasn’t a generic substitute available.  1 on 1 trial and error with your trusted Cannabist is difficult but still the best method.  Big MJ and big money can’t come close to the cultivating correct medicine yet,  organic, small-scale, hands-on horticulturists are just now joining the 20th century.  The best is yet to be discovered by selective breeding.


          • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

            The difficult you’re going to encounter is that traits are phenotypically and genetically linked.  You select for one trait, and you inadvertently select for others as well.

            Everything that I say following is hypothetical, because I really don’t know jack about the specifics of marijuana biology.

            Let’s say the skunky smell is directly related to the quantity of oils produced by the plant.  Let’s also say that the potency of the plant is based mainly on quantity and potency of THC in the oils on the flowering parts of the plant.  And let’s presume that the oils in cannabis flowers evolved as an anti-herbivory (primarily insects) adaptation.  If those traits are all linked, then selecting for potency is going to increase oiliness/stickiness, skunkiness, and resistance to insect herbivory.  Similarly, selecting for reduced smell will drive down potency and resistance to herbivory.  They’re genetically linked.

            Good luck teasing all of those apart. You might get there, but it’s also possible that you might not.  Genetic linkage as a constraint on selection—for both natural selection and selective breeding—is a real thing.  It’s why our backs hurt—our lower backs are still built for getting around on four limbs.

      • james benno says:

        LOL according to who ? The US government owns several patents on the plant


      • Shasta Heart says:

        Spencer’s mother, Suzetta, spoke to the Record Searchlight, and stated that although other strains of cannabis offered her son relief, only James Benno’s API (specifically bred for medicinal use, with a low THC level & high CBD level) is the only strain she could find that, actually, shrunk the tumor in her son’s brain; and that she had the MRI’s to prove it.

        Additionally, during the trial, science played a big part if the defense of this case, including the testimonies of those who were “cured” by James Benno’s medicine, including cancer cases where the “markers” for cancer disappeared, following cannabis treatment. So, despite what the pharmaceutical companies would like you to believe, there are cases of cannabis oil curing cancer.

    • Shasta Heart says:

      And, FYI….the jury also found all three Bennos “not guilty” of cultivating, processing, or selling, cannabis for profit. Patient after patient testified that James never took a dime from them. Their financial records were put on trial, and there were no large cash deposits, or balances, at any time. The cash they found on the premise, was backed up with paperwork of a recent inheritance by a grandfather.

      No wonder we are losing our freedoms, and rights, with people like you who no longer honor what our forefathers died for, for what our soldiers take an oath to defend with their lives….who no longer respect the highest law of the land, The Constitution of the United States of America.  Innocent until proven guilty….and so far, the Bennos have been found innocent on all charges, except one, which violates that very constitution, in it’s vagueness.

  4. kerr, david says:

    Many conservatives believe that no regulation of firearms is legal because of the second amendment.  Many liberals and libertarians believe that no regulation of marijuana growing is legal if any part of it is for medical purposes.

    Both are extreme positions.  We live in a republic where our elected representatives have enacted  regulations on outdoor marijuana growing.

    Marijuana, except a few plants for personal use does not have majority support in Shasta county.

    Some highly productive  agricultural counties have strong popular support, the best soil,and infrastructure.  In places where marijuana growing has majority popular support, it is already years ahead of Shasta county.  A few California counties could provide all the nations marijuana at much lower prices and at much higher quality.

    It is a case of “the right plant in the right place”.  The area around Fresno provides the vast majority of the state’s raisins.  Yolo county provides something like 70% of the nation’s paste tomatoes.


    • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      So there you have it Shasta County marijuana lovers. Move.

      • Rod says:

        That was tried on me 3 decades ago, I like it here in Shasta. My Mother and Father are buried here.  My kids and grandkids like it here too.  This is home.


    • Shasta Heart says:

      So, you believe that our “elected representatives” have the right to circumvent a plebecite (passed by the voters) law? You would be wrong, in that assumption. According to Federal Judge Thelton Henderson, in the Lake County case, County Supervisors can not just call something legal a “nuisance” and make it so. They have to prove that it qualifies as a nuisance. And if they wish to treat something as such, then they have to follow the same procedure as any other nuisance. There needs to be a complain filed by a citizen, and they need to give them an opportunity to come into code, using the same time frame as any other nuisance. Anything else is considered to be discriminatory.


  5. Matthew Meyer says:

    I’ve been hoping to see something from you on this, RV.

    Thanks a lot for covering the trial a bit.

    I do hope the RS lets county taxpayers know what this bit of moral theater is costing them.

  6. kerr, david says:

    The DA, ADAs, judge, courtroom staff, courtroom are fixed costs.  We would be paying those costs whether or not this case was pursued.  If the Bennos try to sue the county, again, the defense would be fixed costs.   The attorneys representing the Bennos would be paying all their costs out of their own pocket and would be unlikely to want to take the case, since pot growers do not have much popular support in Shasta county and a plantiff verdict would be very improbable.

    Regulating marijuana production and marijuana concentrate production have popular support in Shasta county, just like other local government functions like building permits, dog licenses, zoning, etc.

    • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

      You’re saying that the DA, County Court, Sheriff’s Department, et al., are fixed costs.

      If that’s true, it’s also arguably true that they’ve got better things to do than go after pot growers—that time and money spent on A means time and money not spent on B-Z.*  That’s the nature of a zero-sum game, which follows from your “fixed costs” claim.

      (*It’s not truly a zero-sum game if LE is accepting outside funds specifically earmarked for going after pot growers—money that otherwise wouldn’t be in the budget.  That outside money, to my mind, is largely responsible for distorting our Sheriff Department’s perspective and operations.)

      • Anita Lynn Brady says:

        Don’t forget the money the County gets via LE civil forfeiture laws. All you have to do is read the public notices part of the local print media so see the hundreds of thousands of dollars that enter the county coffers from that.

        • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

          Good point.

          When I was attending UC Davis, some dude was growing a couple plants in the basement of his stately Victorian house in neighboring Woodland.  When he got busted, the city seized his house.

        • Rod says:

          “Civil Asset Forfeiture” began on the federal level, the Treasury Dept.  Locals jumped in there because our SCOTUS wouldn’t hear the case against it.

          As we speak, legislation to fix the bad law is circulating through Congress, cross your fingers.

          There’s been innocent lives caught in the dragnet.


    • Matthew Meyer says:

      How about if Benno sues the bejeezus out of the county for atty fees and damages and wins?

      Are those also fixed costs?

      It comes down to the wisdom of pursuing this vindictive prosecution, which is seriously lacking.

      • Rod says:

        Hold on Matthew.  We the people can’t afford to underwrite the County leaders on this case.  We tried to warn them and certain individuals were deaf.  I believe we have a case against 2-3 individuals who broke the law.  I do agree that somebody should hang.


    • Carter Slade says:

      Huh? Fixed costs?  Do you mean tax payer dollars being squandered on behalf of us taxpayers by our law and order EMPLOYEES who engage in doing something with little to no return benefit to our community in the form of tax payer financed wild goose chases and or vendettas? These are public employees David. Our taxes pay their salaries. We require them to be responsible, accountable, and above all else, be an asset to our community, not a liability.  The only fixed cost I see is the bus ticket we need to purchase for those community leaders who forget why we elected them or talk a good talk and little else…


    • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      This is a typical argument made by District Attorneys as well as County Supervisors. For example, when county staff came up with a workable medical marijuana ordinance, after many hours of work, the Supervisors rejected it out of hand. I asked several of them, do you always waste so much money on reports only to reject them without a glance? Their reply was, “That’s what the staff get paid for, it’s a fixed cost, so it’s not a waste of money.”

      • Carter Slade says:

        LOL RV, I would think asking one of our “rulers” – “So, do you always waste so much money on reports only to reject them without a glance…?”  wouldnt get you much more than a “Beat it kid, we’re busy here…” I dont know if the medical marijuana ordinance draft is really a fair example.  In that particular case, the BOS needed to purchase the staff a monkey, a football and eventually, various procreation manuals.  Not sure if those purchases were considered fixed costs, overhead or misc. expenses…

        • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

          Well, you can get away with a lot more asking questions with email than in person. With an email response, the interveiwee has control of their response, where as with a recorded conversation, they’ll lapse into, “Beat it kid.”

          I agree the BOS example wasn’t the best.

    • Shasta Heart says:

      Sheriff Bosenko told the Wall Street Journal, ” Marijuana may not be the county’s most pressing crime problem, the sheriff says, but “it’s where the money is.”.  So, while we remain the 5th most dangerous city for a woman to live (beating out cities like LA, Chicago, NYC & Miami, etc). We are #1 for “worst California city for families to live in”.  Ranked 5th in rising violent crimes. And, ranked 3 in worst place to live, based on a scale of well being. 

      Additionally, if you have been paying attention (I have), Shasta County hasn’t won a cannabis case, that has gone to court in 4 years. So, apparently, the majority doesn’t agree with your assessment. As a long time (bought our home in 1965) resident, with a ton of relatives here…I do believe this is a terrible waste of our resources. Other than the cost you have mentioned, there is also the cost of the investigation, police man hours, and a possible law suit in the future. And, for what? So that a jury can find these people “not guilty” of breaking CA law. You see, an ordinance does not trump state law. This is getting to the point of being embarrassing, tbh

      • Carter Slade says:

        Here within lies in a lot of the problem. The Prop A nuisance ordinance inception itself was a sham to begin with and it’s ongoing code/sheriff enforcement techniques, as partly witnessed in the Benno case, are “it’s about whatever we can get away with…” Frankly I’m surprised the judge in the Benno case didn’t fold to local pressure.

        If you add in the DA’s recent “oh well” attitude and the local judges writing inspection warrants based on the code enforcement witch & revenue hunt, the Benno case isn’t just about the Bennos. It’s about the Shasta County powers that be who continually turn a blind eye to Rick Simon-Shasta County Director of Human Resources sending out his fleet of Reefer Madness crusade mercenaries, blowing up the countryside and then receiving a BOS pat on the head when he stands up at the meetings, blathering his  “we be justified, they attacked us first…

        If we stop the “hustle” we will stop the pointless dog & pony lawsuits. In the long run I see the city of Redding and Shasta County’s combined Reefer Madness hate train eventually running out of steam. They can only do and say foolish anti cannabis things for so long. They dont have the revenue to sustain the ruse, what’s more they never did and meanwhile, Lake Shasta City is raking in the do-rey-me., thank you very much.

        When another senior citizen gets raped(God forbid) on one of our lovely walking trails or another stabbing occurs at a city bus stop while the Sheriff is out rousting Aunt Martha and Uncle Sims 3 plant garden, maybe more of the county brainwashed scare-d-cats will wake up and start asking questions…


  7. Rod says:

    I’m in no position to change anyone’s thinking on the Benno debacle.  I’m a walking-talking MMJ advocate.

    My confusion concerns the prohibitionist mentality.  If we set aside the financial costs of this “never ending trial” we still are left harboring bewilderment of County Prosecution.  Teach them “stoners a lesson”is the bottom line here.  Benno insulted the BOS and Sheriff Bosenko, several times.  Shasta made Benno THE figurehead of a much sought after cleansing of the increasing power of MMJ political presence.

    It eventually evolves into silliness…the law shrinks back in fear of destroying their own golden calf…and MMJ keeps on saving people.  The past 2 decades of very public discussion over the voters’ sending a mandate throughout CA,  has allowed MMJ to correctly identify the menace to be prohibition, not the Benno Family.


  8. cheyenne says:

    In 2014 when Colorado enacted recreational MJ there were 32 “Honey Oil” explosions that caused damage and a few deaths.  In 2015 there were 4 “Honey Oil” explosions and one of those was at a state licensed shop caused by a faulty valve.  Colorado licenses “Honey Oil” manufacturers with specific safety requirements because the state realizes there are hazards in creating “Honey Oil”.  And Colorado has now redefined its limits on MMJ personal growers from 99 plants to 12 because of the abuse of the 99 limit.  Legalizing MJ and MMJ has been a work in progress for Colorado and with anything it takes an occasional tweaking.  Just like Obamacare, tweak don’t prohibit.

    RV, I liked the reference to Everclear.  When I was younger we would go camping in the woods and bring along a bottle of Everclear to light the campfire and then drink.

    • Rod says:

      Everclear poured into a 1/2 gallon Mason jar stuffed with fresh-picked blackberries, cures into a magnificent elixir, if allowed to age a few months.


  9. Anita Lynn Brady says:

    Benno spoke out in his characteristic non-PC manner at a Supervisor’s Meeting during Measure A (while initial version was a proposed county ordinance) consideration, and then gets raided.

    Follow the trail: Shasta County Mtg.–>Supervisors–>Sheriff

    Message is: be careful what you say to Supervisors.

    • Joanne Lobeski Snyder says:

      I didn’t know this Anita.  Now it makes more sense.  You need to stay off the radar if you don’t want trouble.

      • CoachBob says:

        More to the point: We need to rid ourselves of Supes and deputies that are this underhanded.

        • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

          Get rid of deputies?  They take their marching orders from the Sheriff.

          As for getting rid of the Supes……the thing is, those elected Supes seem to be tuned to the same frequency as the majority of Shasta County voters.  I’ve now lived in Shasta County longer than I’ve lived anywhere else, and a great paradox has existed here for as long as I’ve been around:  Local conservatives see themselves as freedom-loving libertarians, but when it’s nut-cutting time, they’re reliably authoritarian.

  10. Carter Slade says:

    The below link/learning aid will be played at the next Shasta County BOS meeting and the upcoming Redding City Council meeting as well as the next DA mixer/fundraiser for Let’s Get Benno But Good.  The piece will be shown instead of their standard propaganda machine movie Reefer Madness. Sacrificing a virgin at the end of the piece will be optional…

  11. cheyenne says:

    Legalizing marijuana at the federal level has been non-existent through President Obama’s turn.  Now with President Trump, yes he is my president, saying many things should be left up to the states maybe marijuana will be treated like other regulated items, alcohol, guns, etc, and be left to the states.  The bunch in DC needs to quit being the mother-of-us-all and realize some things are better left to the states to decide.

    As far as what Spicer says the states, especially Colorado, have served notice that DC needs to stay out of marijuana regulation.

  12. Common Sense says:

    If the Government wants to do something worth while in their “Fight” against MJ they need to start paying more attention to and raiding the Gardens in this Link and Leave the Organic Medical Farmers 99 and under

    (that are legal under prop 215) Alone!

    Someone help me out here… if a guy has some plants and has his permitted .40 cal handgun with him that makes it a Felony?… the law such that you can NOT have ANY guns around a garden or home with plants in it?

    I am guessing 40-50% of Shasta County Residents own at least 1-3 guns?

    What ever happened to the Innocent UNTIL Proven Guilty?….how can they raid and seize soil/equipment etc when if the person is found not guilty they would have to give it back or pay for it?….if Mr. Benno is found Not Guilty on All charges….I am guessing he would win on a Civil Lawsuit if for nothing else than what they took?

    The REAL PROBLEMS are not guys like Mr. Benno…..they are the Cartel Growers that Pollute the Environment and kill wildlife and steal water!

    Did you ever Notice that what ever the Government “Fights” we get more of!….How about a Fight on good paying jobs!!!

    • Rod says:

      The attempted restriction of firearms in hand while being a legal 215 gardener was just settled right here in Shasta.  James went to court and successfully defended his right.  He didn’t shoot, they would’ve killed him.

      I agree, if in doubt, reflect back on the 215 struggle and avoid the newfound distortions.


      • Carter Slade says:

        It’s pretty common knowledge in lawyer-land that LEO’s m.o. is to try and get a weapons charge attached to the grow scenario and if a resisting arrest can be also claimed, then those 2 charges become the leverage the DA’s office needs to offer the standard deal –“If you plead guilty to the grow charges, we’ll drop the possessing weapons during the comission of a crime and resisting arrest charges and you will avoid jail time while waiting for trial as well.

        Also, it is by no accident that it wasnt until Prop A was up and running that armed deputy sheriffs began escorting code enforcement which enabled the deputy to witness the weapons and perhaps incite a resisting arrest action although neither violation would most likely happen if the deputy had not been present to begin with.  The deputy is there by design.

        As in the Benno case and many, many others like his, it starts out being about marijuana but if the Sheriff is chasing the Fed revenue while also feeding the growers are bad hombres propaganda machine, all the deputy needs to find is a bb gun which can immediately put you in an over the barrel situation at which time the railroading begins. The initial cultivation charge winds up being  just a a small and distant part of the hustle….

        • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:


        • Matthew Meyer says:

          How about the indignant county staff insisting they only pursue cases based on the facts and the law? Guffaw.

        • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

          This reads like a good reason for growers to not keep guns around, but rather lots of surveillance cameras (in part to record any arrest).

          • Rod says:

            Steve, another day another question.  Surveillance.

            We need to develop digital surveillance from sprouted seed to retail end sale.  Geolocation systems might do the job if it can be State certified information.  Bar codes aren’t adequate the purpose is to separate the legal from the not.

            What do you know?


          • james benno says:

            All gun charges not guilty

          • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

            Yes, Mr. Benno, you beat the gun rap.  We got that.

            But at great personal expense, and the loss of your crop.  The point was that if you don’t have guns around in the first place, and you let all the neighbors know that, you remove one of the Sheriff’s excuses for busting you.  You take away the leverage the DA uses to extract plea bargains, as Carter described.  Finally, you lessen any unease in the ‘hood that a firefight might erupt on any given day late in the growing season at Fort Benno, which maybe means that nobody drops a dime to call the Sheriff.

            But you be you.

          • Justin says:

            I am pretty sure you can not grow MJ on this scale without guns.  Anyone who did would be robbed of their crop and their money.  The newspaper has had stories of that in the past.

          • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

            Justin — That just argues for not allowing grows in residential neighborhoods and rural residential areas, don’t you think?

            Besides, what’s your evidence that what you say is true?  I’m sure it’s true that growers sometimes get ripped off.  But for what you say to be fully true—that guns are a necessary tool of the trade—there would have to be examples of NorCal growers successfully and legally defending their grows with gunfire.

            Where are those examples?

          • Justin says:

            There is at least one I can think of that was in the newspaper (i no longer subscribe) for a grow off Old Alturas, maybe Abernathy lane if I recall correctly.

            I suspect they dont get written up such that it would be really easy to identify.

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      I’m a Second Amendment supporter, but oddly enough, I don’t own a gun. I probably should get one before the law changes.

      • Beverly Stafford says:

        And once you have one, you’ll have to start registering and waiting two weeks to buy ammo.  So stock up while you can.

  13. Tricia says:

    NO MENS REA the only Criminal Intent I see here is busting on a legal state patient provider cthat led to the death of a small child. How many rape kit tests are sitting in a pile waiting to be tested? I would rather see Shasta County Test those rape kits instead of letting them sit in a pile collecting dust. No mens rea- the prosecutor’s lack Criminal Intent there was no Criminal Intent he was abiding by state law. Letting rape test kits sit in a pile is Criminal.

    • Tricia says:

      To the person that wrote the story why don’t you investigate that how many rape test kits are sitting untested in Shasta County

      • Tricia says:

        Hey mr. Reporter investigative report this how many registered sex offenders in Shasta County have law enforcement lost track of? Give me a minute and I’ll think of other things they can spend their money on that’s more useful then pissing in the wind cuz that’s all they’re doing there’s no mans rea

  14. R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

    Attention Steve Towers: I was just feeling ornery last night. Cause it’s fun.

  15. Robert Scheide says:

    First a disclaimer , I am RV’s dad.  Anybody who has seen the documentary of the Colorado  child suffering from 20 or 30 serious seizures a day immediately stopped  with the application of some oil.  Many have moved to Colorado to get the benefits of marijuana in all forms , any who have seen the benefits of this product cannot with any kindness in their hearts deny them this relief.  IT’S ABOUT TIME SHASTA COUNTY COMES TO THE 21ST CENTURY.

    As a taxpayer in this county I demand to know how much money we have wasted on the trial and lord knows how many other trials like this have robbed our coffers.  The money could be better spent on so many other projects why in the world are they wasting on things  like this.

    I see some concentrating on the magazine size and get all freaky over that fact , but the jury did’t agree , so drop it.

    I have used marijuana in the past for a serious sleep problem , anybody who has to use sleeping pills knows that after a time they stop working that’s me.  Without some help I sleep every 3  or four days , horrible , horrible.  Marijuana just like the pills worked for awhile so I quit.  Then I got a bad ulcer and nothing the doc gave me worked so back to the marijuana and low and behold it worked almost immediately.  The fear that this is an addicting drug is a fallacy,  it’s time to concentrate on the real drug problem, hard drugs.







    • Carter Slade says:

      Hey  RV’s dad, good on you Sir. The landscape of accepting cannabis here in Shasta county is changing for the better and somewhat rapidly now, whether our local leaders like to admit it or not.  Make no mistake-the Benno’s case is already landmark here and will have ripple effects throught the state as well.  Regardless of the political “move along, there’s nothing to see here” spin our DA puts on the recent Benno case outcome, her office, the BOS and the Redding council naysayers know that the Bennos have let the horses out of the barn and no one including the DA are gonna catch em.

      In case no one noticed, the Redding city attorney is already beginning to break rank from our local leaderships once Reefer Madness attitude by stating in a recent RS article that we need to look at the marijuana thing closer.  Atta boy Barry. Youre momma didnt raise no anti-cannabis fool.

      I think the impending change of direction is 2 fold – Lake Shasta City didnt wait for money to fall out of the sky while the rest of Shasta County are getting sore necks from looking upward which really does make us sky gazers look very out of touch with healthy local economy reality. There’s that and the approx 1/2 mill in annual tax revenue that lies waiting in the wings that can only be ignored for so long, no matter which side of the cannabis fence youre on…

    • cheyenne says:

      The Children’s Hospital in Aurora has been given millions to study how MMJ helps patients, a lot of that money comes from out of state.  As I have mentioned, two anti MJ anything states Wyoming and Utah, have legalized the use of Cannabis Oil named after a patient who died.  Also in Colorado the state, with Democrats in charge, made large magazines, over 10 rounds, illegal.  In the entire state there has been one person in two years charged with illegally owning large magazines, in Fort Collins.  The only thing the magazine gun law did was send Magpul Ammo and 800 jobs to Cheyenne and led to the recall of two Democratic state legislators.

  16. Justin says:

    the article was decent until this charge

    “How does [the Shasta County Sheriff’s deputy in charge of the raid on Benno] feel knowing that this bust very likely contributed to the early death of a child patient of James?””

    The author is putting Benno out as if he were some sort of medical professional, and accusing the deputy of hastening the death of a child, two serious statements with no backup are too much of a stretch.

    Also, the idea that the Benno wasn’t in it for the money is totally unreal.

    These departures from reality and the push for a system that promotes recreational use as well as medical use under the bleeding heart logic that people need this miracle cure all “medicine” is why people do not or will not take this seriously.

    • Rod says:

      Here’s some homework for you Justin.  If after reading the facts, we can help you catch up.


    • james benno says:

      not guilty of 16 out of 17 charges and I’m unreal PFFT your a small minded individual to make assumptions about someone you’ve never met

    • Shasta Heart says:

      Perhaps you are unaware of the fact that the deputies admitted in court, that they did not follow proper procedure, to determine if the garden was legal.  Had they done so, they could have saved the tax payers a lot of money, and even more importantly, could have left this child’s LEGAL medicine alone.
      Also, Spencer’s mother publicly pleaded to have her child’s medicine returned to her. The county refused her request. What kind of a monster refuses life saving medicine to a child? What kind of monsters are we, for allowing it?

      • Rod says:

        Thank you Shasta Heart.

        Your verbiage and commitment to our current events within MMJ in Shasta, is most welcome.  Anything you care to expose I’ll attempt to support, so far 100%.

        James, try to keep talking, your true family story is history in the making.


        • Carter Slade says:

          Yea, Im with ya Rod. Thanks Shasta,  Ive watch you at a BOS meeting or 2. Your unrelenting attitute againt the Shasta machine is nothing short of awesome. Sorry Mr Towers, for my “me too” moment…lol

    • Shasta Heart says:

      The Bennos were found innocent of cultivating, processing, or selling “marijuana” for purpose of sales. Their financial records were put on trial, and showed no substantial deposits, or balances. The only cash found on the premises was easily proven to be an inheritance, through the paper trail investigated. And, patient after patient testified that none of the Bennos ever took any cash from them. They lived a modest lifestyle, growing much of their own food, and didn’t have any fancy cars, toys, electronics, etc.

      • Justin says:

        The lack of cash in a bank account or other traditional records does not preclude profit or a profit motive.

        Beno himself says his dirt was worth millions of dollars. I am sure he didnt pay cash for that dirt, surely he was a prolific compost maker or he had a massive worm farm as well.  He must have since he gave it all away to the sick and dying with no thought of profit for himself.

        Surely any of the pro pot news sources will have plenty of articles describing the problems with marijuana money and traditional  banking.  The feds probably shot themselves in the foot here, by making it so hard to deposit the cash, they have also made it hard to find and confiscate.

        • Shasta Heart says:

          First off…..understand that it is the state’s job to prove them guilty (14th amendment of the Constitution). Not the other way around.

          Second, as you stated,  the dirt was valued at that price because of the decades of organic feeding of it. Mr Benno did not go out and pay millions of dollars for it. He created it, much like an artist can create a masterpiece out of minimal materials.

          And, finally, additional evidence was provided by the defense, which proved  that Benno was a true non profit.  From witness testimony, and a lack of material possessions, anyone with a logical, unbiased, mind, could see that the Bennos were not in this for profit.

  17. Common Sense says:

    What we can learn from our Neighbors to the North….jobs created….over a Billion in Tax Revenues…..the Sky didn’t fall…..amazing!

  18. Christine Marie Flora says:

    My comment is in no way meant to offend ANYONE ANYWHERE.

    I am, since 1996, a MMJ Patient, Caregiver, Grower, Advocate, Edibles Maker, as well as Tinctures, and Topical Relief Products Producer. I am a conduit for those that seek chronic pain relief from MMJ to connect with top notch Medical Professionals, often escorting folks to appointments where they can obtain a legal, legitimate recommendation from a licensed physician within the State of California.
    Many people to this very day have called me The Pot Fairy, due to my pleasure in sharing my pot, in any form, with others.

    I have had 4 cases in 5 years for Possession of Less Than an Ounce, back in the late 90’s and early 2000’s DISMISSED IN THE INTEREST OF JUSTICE.

    YES, little Spencer died without the oil James provided. Thus, Sheriff Bosenko has some fault in his death to bear on his shoulders and future.

    True, oil can be purchased at almost any dispensary in the community. HOWEVER, can any dispensary in the community consistently produce the purest, highest CBD content Rick Simpson Oil.

    Absolutely, unequivocally, hell no. What is glossed over here is THE FACT that James has perfected his product to the high quality RS Oil in the State. So. No, its not worth the risk to my life to just go to any dispensary for my needs.

    James does not make money off pot sales. You can’t make millions off something you give away, freely and without reservation.

    The Sheriff’s have victimized, criminalized, and trampled on the lawful and basic human rights of Logan, Jacob, and James Benno as well as all the patients of the collective they helped serve, which was shattered by the unwarranted raid and subsequent loss of their medicine.
    The so called Hobby Farms of Shasta County should learn a lot from this case and James. This Happy Valley Farm was destroyed out of fear, the collective of patients (and yes, Spencer) left with no viable alternatives for their quality, quantity, and FREE of CHARGE supply chain and with a total loss of what the farm produced, many of those patients have suffered unnecessary pain and death because of it.

    James and his two boys were jailed for standing up for their rights and the rights of us all as individuals and members of patient collectives. They should be honored as heroes in The War on Drugs not as cartel like gun toting thugs.

    The DA has made a very grave and fatal mistake. She has chosen, in her response to the 3 questions, to ASSUME FACTS NOT IN EVIDENCE regarding how the oil on the stove was manufactured. You cannot be manufacturing a controlled substance if you aren’t changing the chemical structure of it.

    The End

    • Barbara Rice Barbara Rice says:

      Christine,  your comment has been edited to remove rude and negative attacks on others in this forum.

    • Carter Slade says:

      Hey girl – I have no hesitation making your one of my heroes…

    • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

      Christina — Regarding use of the word “fact.”  In the words of Indigo Montoya, “You keep using that word.  I do not think it means what you think it means.

      Here’s an example: “What is glossed over here is THE FACT that James has perfected his product to the high quality RS Oil in the State.

      That’s not a fact unless it can be verified independently.  Putting “the fact” in all caps doesn’t make it an indisputable fact simply because you’re YELLING IT.  Similarly, putting “free of charge” in caps falls well short of proof that there was no history of or intent to sell.

      Lastly, regarding your conclusion:  Forcing a chemical solvent through organic material for the purpose of extracting soluble substances from that parent material may not fit your definition of manufacturing a controlled substance, but that may be a precarious legal theory upon which to risk one’s future.  I would advise readers to seek legal council before following your guidance.

      • Rod says:

        Steve, you’re a scientist.  I’m a dreamer.  I hope you never change and I assure you I change constantly.

        Those are FACTS based on reality.  You can prove your position and I have no desire nor need to.

        I think Cristina’s point is same as mine, the time honored relationship between cannabis and humanity isn’t yet scientific, it’s still knowledge.  We’re moving fast towards scientific proof that can be verified.  You have to admit, we’ve been held back while you’ve been promoted,  the struggle has been unfair.

        Please don’t trust your scientific principals to argue against the thousands of years of cumulative knowledge residing within the cannabis community,  we need more time at the wheel to overcome prohibition first.


        • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

          Rod, as I’ve said before, I’m not a prohibitionist.  I am a stickler for rational empiricism, though.  People are free yell, “THIS IS THE TRUTH!!!” at the top of their lungs, but they have no right to feeling immune from others asking for evidence, and remaining skeptical until they see it.

          There’s a high degree of arrogance in saying that you’re speaking the truth because you’re yelling it, with a tone of distain for skeptics.

          What Christina says are facts, I think of as hypotheses.  And I hear you—scientific inquiry addressing the medical efficacy of marijuana has been severely constrained owing to it being a Schedule 1 drug.  So you’re right—you need time to produce the evidence.

          But when people start accusing other people of killing a young boy because he was denied a substance that they claim is a cure?  I can’t abide.  I’d be skeptical that RS oil cures horrible diseases to start with, but I also admit that my skepticism is just that—untested by adequate research, so it’s an open question.  But until it’s proved that RS oil is a powerful curative, it’s reckless to opine that the prohibitionists are killers.

          Lacking empathy to the point where they denied a child comfort in his dying days?  If it’s true that there were no effective palliative alternatives available, okay.  (Still skeptical.)

          Stone-cold killers? No. Way too illogical, way too harsh, way too full of unearned self-righteousness.


          • Rod says:

            Yeah, I agree with this post, certainly the boy passed due to natural causes.  I didn’t mention the boy, so ease-up on me, OK?

            The FACTS that can’t be proven by scientific principals include MMJ.  My commitment to the fact that science is following behind knowledge in understanding why we react the way we do to MMJ is important.  Skilled scientists are playing catch-up.  Research is needed. I know you agree.

            Try to understand, everyone in the cannabis community in Shasta has been systematically hunted and ruined due to lack of science.  Scientists are trusted to explain and advocate for needed changes to MMJ discrimination.  My own anecdotal testimonies have been scrapped numerous times by logical thinkers.  I can’t comprehend the chasm between cannabis knowledge and skepticism.

            So the question always seems to distill down to…What’s your problem,  I just seek peace.

          • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

            Rod — I don’t think we’re that far apart.  I don’t want to deny any sick person whatever comfort marijuana affords them.  We agree on that.  I think you also agree that sellers of marijuana ought not to be allowed to make outlandish claims regarding the curative powers of MMJ, until that’s proved.  But up and down this comment board, certain people are making the claim that the child died because he didn’t get his medicine. Horse pucky, not to mention deeply insulting to his parents.  If I sincerely believed that some particular marijuana extract would cure my child or grandchild, nothing would stop me from procuring or producing it.

            One of the saddest news articles I’ve ever read concerned charlatans who practice “new age medicine” up in Mt. Shasta.  The story was largely about people with curable diseases who were foregoing medical treatment in favor of crystal healing and other bullscheisse treatments.  There was an account of a woman who had young children who had decided to go this route to treat her breast cancer, and was now dying miserably.  The left side of her chest was an open cancerous wound, and she and her husband were consumed with remorse.

            I can’t abide snake oil salesmen.  They kill people.

          • Richard Christoph says:


            I am guessing that you are familiar with Michael Shermer’s monthly “Skeptic” column in Scientific American, as well as the periodical, “Skeptical Inquirer.”  Both are well worth the time.

  19. Common Sense says:

    Well Apparently Gov Brown wants to change some of the Cannabis Laws! This one is interesting if it makes it through… won’t need a “Local” Permit to get a State License if you furnish an E.I.R!  About a $3000.00 bill there……but if that gets a person a State License to Grow?…..I am guessing there would be some that would do it?
    Good for business
    The changes that will likely have the biggest business impact include:

    Eliminating the mandate that licensed MJ businesses obtain both local and state permits. If a licensing process is in place at the city or county level, companies would still need a local permit. But if there is no such system in place, it won’t preclude a business from getting a state license. In lieu of a local permit, businesses would have to submit an Environmental Impact Report to the state.
    So would that mean that the city or county can’t do anything about the growing if it were Legal at the State Level?…hopefully someone can answer this that has a lot more knowledge than I do on the topic!
    The way I read it is….if the city or county Do have a permit process in place….one has to go through that….if they Do NOT….then a person can submit an E.I.R and get their state license to cultivate.And if people go that route….will they still do what they are doing now?…Arrest and see you in court?…Even if it Legal at the State Level with a State Permit?


    • Rod says:

      It’s still confusing to me too, CS.  My translation is…….local permit first and state permit can be allowed second.  Rural areas in CA were being hung-out to dry because a local permit wasn’t always available.

      The EIR is an assist to enable applicants’ statewide to qualify for state permit.

      Here in Shasta, it’s still unchanged.  Measure A prohibits outdoor cultivation.  EIR won’t help.  The end result is obviously unconstitutional because we now have prop 64 statewide.  Shasta County can still prosecute Measure A violators in spite of prop 64.

      We need to have a case in court so that we can address and appeal the unconstitutionality of measure A.

      Remember, lots of municipalities and counties prohibited outdoor cultivation solely to circumvent the expected voter passage of prop 64.  Prop 64 takes effect 1/1/18.

      My belief is that, Shasta CO will ease-up on destroying small-scale grows such as James had.  I could be totally wrong about that.

      • Common Sense says:

        Prop 64 took effect immediately…’s 1/1/18 for the Commercial Recreational operations. Any Individual 21+ can grow 6 plants inside…

        Any Individual 21+ can grow 6 plants inside…now…..anywhere in California……subject to “Reasonable” local regulations….if there are currently no regulations…then can do as they wish until then…..So I guess once again…how do we Define “Reasonable”……probably through another court case…or Two…or..Three or….

        I don’t see how Measure “A” would hold up in Court?….But then I guess it didn’t with Mr. Benno…right Rod?

        I think once again….there appears to be a little Grey in the Middle of the Black and White…..If the local government doesn’t have a permit process in place, Which it sounds like they don’t (as it is illegal to grow outdoors)…..then the new proposal from Governor Brown says ( if passed) that an E.I.R can be used to get a State Permit to operate……so does the State Supercede or does the Local Rule then? I guess court will once again be in full session….as we get to the bottom of all this….

        One thing is pretty obvious to me….if the County doesn’t get a favorable ruling on at least one count…and (that’s all they have left)….there will be a HUGE Civil Lawsuit….and…..they will probably Lose that one!….just doesn’t seem to make sense to me……Heroin all over the County….State……Country….and you guys are busting a “Legitimate” Medical Garden???….

        I want to know how much this whole trial cost the Taxpayers!

        Prop 215 is pretty clear……’s as much as is medically necessary…..patients may come together and grow as a group/collective…..and no local ordinances or laws can supersede those two things…..Plant limits have been struck down in court…already...Prop 215 can not be changed without a vote of the people…… California Proposition 215, also known as the Medical Use of Marijuana Initiative or the Compassionate Use Act, was on the November 5, 1996 general election ballot in California as an initiated state statute, where it was approved.

        Sure seems like a couple lost Civil Lawsuits in the Millions might make people do things in the future a bit different?……so if they County Loses a $2 Million Dollar Civil Suit….then would that mean even LESS money for Law Enforcement then?…mmmm…seems like all I hear now is there in not enough money for law enforcement….city….county…etc

    • Matthew Meyer says:

      Common, I think you missed the part where the state will now keep tabs on local ordinances so that they know when to deny a license.

  20. Common Sense says:

    I see Matt….so they would automatically deny a License from anyone in Shasta County then ( The State)?

    Looks like another Possible Federal Lawsuit again Shasta County for Cultivation and Rights issues?

    So we have Mr Benno and Associates Federal Lawsuit and then this new one……seems like they will run out of money sooner or later down there at the County once they start Losing these Lawsuits…..unless they can get a sales tax increase…..or God Forbid….. Allow legal Manufacturing and tax it!

  21. ian flynn says:

    Shasta county is completely backwards! They prosecute medical patients, who are allowed by the state of California to grow their medicine, meanwhile heroin and meth and the scourge they bring with them are creating horrible crime rates and dangerous situations. I had my medical garden cut down before the ban went into effect, they came on my property with no warrant, with guns drawn, wearing bullet proof vests, and with two police dogs. My son, who was at the property at the time, was in our camp playing a gameboy and had four cops pointing guns at him, just because they saw plants from a neighboring property. I have over 40 acres of agricultural zoned land, no neighboring houses for over a mile…they cut our plants and then charged my son with a misdemeanor for not having the proper fencing, supposedly you are supposed to have a 6 foot tall, wooden fence with locking gate, My garden was in the middle of my forty acres, not visible from the road, why do I need a 6 foot tall fence? This happened the year before the ban went into place, fast forward to last week, I went to visit my property (I live on the coast) and found someone had planted over 50 plants and stolen hundreds of dollars worth of fencing etc, now I am a woman and I was alone, I did have my dogs at least… I decided I should pull the plants so I would not be held responsible if they were found, and believe me it was scary to pull them, knowing that someone could come up and be really angry, I was definitely putting myself in a situation that could be dangerous. I came home and called the sheriff the next day, I thought they could go out there and check the rest of the property and make sure no one was squatting and to make sure there was no other area of plants, as I did not walk the whole property. Well, imagine my surprise when the sheriff told me that they would not go out there, that it was my responsibility to make sure no one grows on my land and if there were squatters, to go and ask them to leave! I was especially shocked when he told me that I would be held liable if they ever found plants on my property, even though I was reporting an illegal grow on my land! The deputy even went as far to say that I could be pretending someone was growing on my land so if they ever found anything, I would not be held responsible! I was asking them to go out there and check things out, illegal activity! I can’t drive out there once a week, to pull plants and possibly face a squatter!

    So in Shasta county, you can be a medical patient on your own agriculturally zoned land and have the sheriffs come without a warrant, with guns drawn, bullet proof vest, and police dogs, and cut your small garden, but they will not help you when someone else is trespassing and illegally growing on your land! How does that make sense? It encourages criminal activity and I don’t think I should have to go out there and risk my person to confront someone! If they cared about marijuana, they would go out on these kinds of calls, but they would rather accost medical patients, than catch criminals apparently…

  22. Common Sense says:

    Well the time clock is ticking down for the last hurrah and the final count against Mr.Benno to be Tried. I think it is the 27th of This month that they get one last crack at him?……such a waste of Tax Payers money here!

    I am guessing that if he is found Guilty his Federal Suit won’t go anywhere…..I find it interesting that he filed a Federal Suit against Shasta County? I am no attorney….and don’t play one on T.V…..but since the plant is Federally Illegal I don’t see that one going anywhere. A State Lawsuit for Violating his Prop 215 Rights…..held OUT Side the area….would probably get a Win on his side of the Column!

    Well Best of Luck on all this Mr. Benno… are fighting the fight for everyone….whether they realize that or not!

    Our local Biased Media will give it a quick “Pot Plantation” tried Again Speel….The mear fact that all media call it POT or Weed or MJ shows an inherent Bias!….It’s Cannabis……Call it what it is…’s a natural plant…..

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