Redding Fines Cancer Patient $40,000 For Growing Cannabis

Mike Rubin lives on borrowed time. The 40-year-old northeast Pennsylvanian native was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2010. In 2011, Rubin endured four months of brutal chemotherapy, only to have the tumors in his neck and shoulders return three months later.

His doctors recommended another round of chemo, this time combined with radiation. But Rubin had other ideas. The first round of chemo had ravaged his body and mind. After researching all of his options on the internet, he rejected sound mainstream medical advice and elected to treat his cancer with cannabis.

“They thought I was being an idiot,” he told me last week, sitting in the small living room in the modest south Redding rental he shares with his wife. “I thought I was doing the right thing.”

Against his family’s wishes, Rubin headed west, followed shortly by his wife, first to Colorado, then to Oregon, states that had legalized medical marijuana in the previous decade.

Within months he realized he was going to have to grow his own cannabis to cut down on the cost of treatment. Colorado was too expensive, Oregon had too many regulations. In July, 2012, he and his wife settled in south Redding, where, at the time, the outdoor cultivation of medical cannabis was legal for qualified patients.

Rubin suffered through the trials and errors faced by all beginning growers, as well as the north valley’s insufferably hot summers and the inevitable russet mites. But the former landscaper has a knack for gardening, and was soon producing enough outdoor cannabis to supply his annual medical needs.

As far as Rubin is concerned, he made the right decision switching to cannabis. Seven years ago, the last mainstream doctor who examined him said he’d be dead within five years if he didn’t seek conventional treatment. Yet here is, still hanging on.

But any progress Rubin may have been making was seriously thwarted last May, when the city of Redding implemented a total ban on all outdoor cannabis cultivation — recreational or medical — within city limits. Rubin says he frantically called city council members, city staff, anyone who could tell him if the ban truly applied to medical marijuana patients. He got only one call-back and no solid answer.

So, like many outdoor growers in Redding last year, medical and recreational, Rubin took a chance and planted his crop despite the ban. The Carr Fire rained ash on their south Redding neighborhood for days, but they escaped any serious damage. In early October, Ruben was looking forward to a successful harvest in several weeks’ time.

Mike Rubin’s nine mature plants shortly before harvest in October 2018.

That’s when city of Redding Code Enforcement supervisor Steve Willkomm arrived unannounced at the back of Rubin’s property and began taking photographs of his backyard.

Rubin approached Willkomm and asked him what he was doing. He says the code enforcement officer asked him how many plants he had going. “You can talk to the lawyer,” bluffed Rubin, who didn’t have an attorney at the time, before he reluctantly invited Willkomm onto his property.

As Willkomm photographed his garden, which included nine mature plants and 31 small seedlings in 1-gallon pots, Rubin explained he was a cancer patient, that he’s been growing his own medicine and treating himself right here in south Redding, legally, since 2012.

Rubin says Willkomm claimed he’d never met an actual, honest-to-god medical marijuana patient before and seemed sympathetic to his plight. According to Rubin, the code enforcement officer agreed to give him two weeks to eradicate his crop—enough time to finish it off—and promised him he wouldn’t be cited as long as he followed through. As Willkomm left the property, they shook hands on it.

But several weeks later, after Rubin had harvested all his plants, Willkomm sang a different tune. Rubin says that after calling to say he was on the way over for a “friendly visit,” the code enforcement officer came to his house and issued him a $40,000 citation.

Rubin objected to no avail.

“All he kept saying was, ‘I never said I wouldn’t cite you. This is what the people voted for. This is what the people voted for.’ ”

When city of Redding Code Enforcement supervisor Steve Willkomm returned my phone calls and email, he mostly confirmed Mike Rubin’s account of their encounter.

He also contradicted himself on two key points: Whether or not he gave Rubin the opportunity to eradicate his crop immediately and avoid a stiff financial penalty, and whether such an opportunity to comply exists.

In his email, Willkomm wrote, “We generally do not cite everyday, because most persons agree to cooperate and abate the outdoor grow.”

That seems to imply that cooperative citizens are given a chance to abate their grows and avoid a heavy fine, but both Rubin and Willkomm confirmed that offer was never made. Rubin wasn’t being uncooperative, he just asked for two extra weeks to finish his crop. Willkomm might have said no. He didn’t.

“I was never given a chance to comply,” Rubin says.

Yet when I talked to Willkomm on the phone, he told me, “There’s no chance to comply. Anybody growing outdoors will be cited.”

The city of Redding Cannabis FAQ says violators can be fined “up to $1000 per plant/violation.” I asked Willkomm if that “up to” means code enforcement has discretion when setting fine amounts. He noted the fine was previously $100 per plant and then contradicted himself again.

“We have the discretion,” he said. “Everybody that is found moving forward will be fined $1000 per plant. We’re sending a strong message that outdoor cultivation is not allowed and we don’t put up with it. It’s offensive.”

In his email, Willkomm said Code Enforcement cited 34 citizens for outdoor cultivation last year, with fines ranging from $1000 to $46,000. He also said no one complained about Rubin’s grow to code enforcement; he just happened to see it as he was driving by. That’s why he stopped.

On the phone, Willkomm confirmed that he told Rubin he could have been fined $40,000 per day. The total fine would have been $840,000, nearly $1 million.

Rubin said the code enforcement officer wished him well as he left.

Welcome to the New Prohibition

If you thought draconian punishments for cultivating marijuana disappeared with the passage of Prop. 64 in 2016, think again. While the Adult Use of Marijuana Act permits anyone over the age of 21 to grow up to six plants, it also grants counties and municipalities the power to “reasonably regulate” personal outdoor and indoor cultivation.

Although Prop. 64 passed with 57 percent of the vote, a significant portion of California’s medical marijuana community opposed it because they predicted many counties and cities would act quickly to ban outdoor and indoor cultivation under the guise of “reasonable regulation.”

As it turns out, that’s exactly what happened, according to a three-part data-driven series published last year by the Orange County Register.

“Under Prop. 64, cities can ban all outdoor marijuana gardens,” the Register reported. “And our records show that nearly three-quarters of California cities have done so, with 354 out of 482 cities limiting home marijuana grows to inside the house or to an enclosed structure in the yard.”

Make that 355 now that Redding’s joined the outdoor ban club, and like many of those cities, Redding has also placed significant restrictions on indoor cultivation, including ventilation and lighting requirements, building permits and a yet-to-be-determined license fee.

There are essentially two forces driving the bans: fear and greed.

On the one hand, after 80 years of government-sponsored anti-marijuana propaganda, many local officials as well as ordinary citizens remain concerned about public safety should the demon weed be completely unleashed.

On the other, large-scale marijuana businesses and local governments worry they can’t maximize profits and tax revenues if California’s enormous black market isn’t stamped out, and, god forbid, ordinary citizens can grow their own marijuana.

That’s why Redding implemented its outdoor ban and indoor restrictions at the same time it opened the door for a limited number of cannabis retailers and other marijuana-related businesses. If protecting public safety and maximizing profits and tax revenue means trampling on the rights of legitimate medical marijuana patients like Mike Rubin, so be it.

Sitting in a plastic lawn chair in his living room, the soft-spoken Rubin does indeed look trampled upon. The tumors in his neck and shoulders are plainly visible above the low collar of his t-shirt. He claims the elongated lumps are in a reduced state now thanks to cannabis.

“When they get bad, they swell up like a ring of meat around my neck,” he says. “I look like a hunchback.”

Like many medical marijuana patients, Rubin is deeply immersed in the existing medical research on cannabis, most of which takes place outside the United States, since cannabis remains a controlled substance under federal law. He has closely followed the pioneering work of Israeli cannabis researcher Dr. Dedi Meiri and the Czech Republic’s Dr. Ethan Russo.

Mike Rubin was fined $31,000 for these small seedlings, which were for breeding purposes, not consumption.

After seven years of experimenting on himself, Rubin has discovered his Hodgkin’s lymphoma responds best to cannabis strains high in THC. But narrowing down the exact strain that works best has been a chore. The 30 small seedlings he was cited for were his attempt to “shogun it on the strains,” in order to create new hybrids through cross-pollination and save the seeds for next season.

“There have been a lot of ups and downs,” he said. “It correlates directly to what I’m pulling out of the garden.”

After harvest, he converts some of his buds into cannabis oil using the ethanol cold extraction method. He then either smokes the thick, sticky oil with a dab rig or loads it into gelatin capsules to swallow. He also juices raw buds. He figures he consumes about 2 grams of high-THC cannabis per day.

“I can actually feel it in my tumors, you can pretty much see it,” he said. “These big tumors stretched all around my neck. My biggest reduction [in tumor size] is from the raw cannabis fruit smoothies with whole bud.”

He’s realistic about the limits of cannabis. It hasn’t made his tumors disappear, but it has shrunk them down to a more manageable size. It also alleviates some of the symptoms that accompany Hodgkin’s lymphoma such as chronic fatigue and lack of appetite. The former 200-pounder’s weight has stabilized at 150 pounds.

“It’s been a very scary thing,” he says. “I could be doing something stupid, or I could be doing the right thing. You can’t really say cannabis cures cancer.”

Now, with Redding’s outdoor ban, Rubin faces another frightening prospect. His rental home doesn’t have space for an indoor grow, and even if it did, he couldn’t afford the cost for permits. He’s on permanent disability and his wife works full-time. They live comfortably, but are by no means rich.

Rubin estimates purchasing the amount of quality cannabis he needs at one of the three marijuana dispensaries currently operating in Shasta County, including the recently opened Synergy in Redding, would cost $30 to $60 per day.

“I can’t see keeping that up for more than a month,” Rubin says. “After a month, I’d have all my valuables sold and I’d be in the street.”

That leaves Rubin with no options when his present supply of cannabis runs dry. He still recoils when recalling his experience with mainstream medical treatment.

“Steve Willkomm is going to force me back into chemotherapy and radiation,” he says grimly.

The Trickle-Down Legal System

Rubin and his wife were at first stunned by the $40,000 citation they received from the city of Redding, an almost inconceivable amount to pay given their means.

Then they sprang into action, scraping together as much money has they could, draining their savings accounts. They came up with $5,000, and hired Redding criminal defense attorney Keith Cope three days after receiving the citation.

When I called Cope, the first thing he told me was that he would have advised Rubin not to go public with his case, if his client had asked him, which he didn’t. Given that Rubin is going public, the longtime local attorney agreed to talk in general about the case.

Cope began by noting the American Medical Association, which opposed medical marijuana as late as 2007, now fully endorses medical research on cannabis and its removal from Schedule 1 on the Controlled Substance Act. Redding was once going along with the same flow.

“Redding had been among the most progressive cities at dealing with cannabis,” Cope said. “Twenty dispensaries in Redding once functioned well for the right group of people. But in 2011, Redding changed course, and became very cautious about implementing laws.”

Through defending medical marijuana clients, he’s learned from experts about both the “sheer propaganda” promulgated against cannabis by the federal government and it’s medicinal potential. Cope said he owns stock in a number of pharmaceutical ventures exploring medicinal cannabis.

“I don’t use the stuff,” he said. “But that hasn’t prevented me from seeing its value to my clients and their families.”

Redding criminal defense attorney Keith Cope doesn’t do cannabis, but he defends people who do.

Cope said the city of Redding’s $1,000-per-plant fine is excessive, let alone $1,000 per plant per day. It may also be unconstitutional. In a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision earlier this year, Timbs vs. Indiana, all nine justices found that the Eight Amendment’s excessive fines clause extends to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment’s due process clause.

In other words, California’s counties and municipalities can’t charge excessive fines for participating in an activity the state has declared legal and call it “reasonable regulation.”

The city of Fontana found that out last year, when a lawsuit brought by the ACLU on behalf of a medical marijuana patient ended with the judge ordering the city to revise its overly restrictive indoor cultivation regulations.

But justice doesn’t move swiftly. It sort of trickles down.

“It hasn’t filtered down to local municipalities like Redding,” Cope said, speaking about the Timbs vs. Indiana decision. “They have yet to get a grip on that case and what it means at the local level.”

When justice does finally trickle down, Cope is confident Rubin will be fairly treated. Eventually, an administrative hearing will be held to determine just how much the cancer patient will be fined, if at all.

“When that happens, we’ll have a really good result, I hope,” he said.

Meanwhile, once a month, Rubin gets a $40,000 bill from the city of Redding. Every two months, it goes up 1.5 percent. He’s growing impatient, and wants the ordeal to end.

“I moved across the country to Redding specifically to do this,” he said. “I want people to be able to grow six plants. When you have someone with cancer, it should be very easy to differentiate. I just want to be left alone with six plants.”

R.V. Scheide
R.V. Scheide has been a northern California journalist for more than 20 years. He appreciates your comments and story ideas. He can be emailed at RVScheide@anewscafe.com.
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67 Responses

  1. Avatar Tim says:

    Personal use? Ignoring the 31 seedlings, 9 large outdoor plants are enough to support daily consumption of at least 1/2 ounce – 14 joints – for a year.

    And making honey oil to boot? In a rental home?

    Kudos to code enforcement I say.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      As the story plainly states, he doesn’t smoke raw cannabis. As it also plainly states, he used the ethanol cold extraction process, which is not honey oil and totally legal. Not surprised a so-called libertarian thinks like this.

      • Avatar Tim says:

        Honey oil is concentrated cannabis, regardless of the extraction method. Ethanol extraction is not as dangerous as butane, but it is still flammable. Fires are not uncommon, particularly with absent-minded heavy pot users manning the lab. You don’t want a DIY honey oil lab next door to you in the tinderbox that is Redding, regardless of extraction method.

        And yes, I’m a Libertarian which means I’ll fight for your rights until they infringe on others (like bombarding your neighbors with skunky smells and engaging in activities which increases the risk of the neighborhood burning down). I also support the right of people to freely associate and voluntarily enact community standards. Don’t like Redding’s ordinance? Shasta Lake City is a short drive away.

        PS The $5,000 cash that this supposed disability patient had on hand to pay a ferrari-driving lawyer would just about cover the building supplies & permits for a greenhouse for the maximum 6 legal plants.

        • Avatar Elly Bass says:

          Tim, the Libertarian, I’m severely allergic to roses and think they smell horrible. My neighbor has them everywhere. Will you help me pass a law to make them illegal?

        • Avatar Michael Rubin says:

          It’s cold process ethanol tincture evaporated at room temperature with a fan. Extract is non intoxicating, safe and legal process.

          • Avatar Tim says:

            Without state & local permits, it is the illegal manufacturing of a controlled substance. Doing so with a volatile solvent – ethanol – within 300 feet of an occupied residence opens you to an aggravated sentencing enhancement.

            CA HS 11379.6

        • Avatar James M Benno says:

          Ethanol has been removed from the Volatile substance list and is ” Legal ” for all CA residents to use for cannabis extraction.

          • Avatar Tim says:

            That definition applies only to Chapter 13 of the California Code of Regulations, Title 17, Division 1.

            It does not apply if you are not operating a legal lab. And Prop 26’s medical exemptions applied only to possession (11357) and growing/harvesting/processing (11358) – not to the manufacture of concentrated cannabis (11379.6)

          • Avatar Michael Rubin says:

            Cannabis tincture is legal, sorry Tim

          • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

            The AUMA specifically states that the Compassionate Use Act is still in effect. It’s legal for a medical marijuana patient to use ethanol, this has been proven in court. So, if Prop. 215 is still in effect, it’s legal.

          • Avatar Tim says:

            Prop 215 (not 26, sorry) created section 11362.5 which exempts medical marijuana patients & caregivers from the sections governing possession (11357) and growing/harvesting/drying/processing (11358). It DOES NOT exempt them from the manufacture of controlled substances (11379.6) which include cannabis derivatives.

            Creating hash from dry rubbing – the old Arabic way – is “processing” and falls under 11358. Using chemical solvents is “manufacturing” and falls under 11379.6 Using volatile solvents within 300 feet of an occupied residence adds a sentencing enhancement. Ethanol is a volatile solvent.

            California did give PERMITTED operations a break by defining ethanol & CO2 as non volatile solvents under section 40100:

            ***(gg) “Nonvolatile solvent” means any solvent used in the extraction process that is not a volatile solvent. For purposes of this chapter, “nonvolatile solvents” include carbon dioxide and ethanol.***

            Note that the definition says “for the purposes of this chapter.” That chapter applies to licensed & permitted operations – codes in the 40000s – it does NOT apply all the way back to illegal operations under section 11379.6…

            The only reference to the compassionate use act in the 40000s is to give preexisting medical marijuana operations a priority with licensure (40156).

            But if you have a statute or court case that overrules the laws I’ve referenced, I’m all ears.

          • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

            James Benno is a case in point. The last charge against him, manufacturing using ethanol, was dropped because ethanol has been removed from the list.

          • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

            To be clear: Mike Rubin’s status as a legitimate medical marijuana patient in the post-Prop. 64 era grants him full immunity against criminal prosecution. Prop. 215 is still in full effect.

        • Avatar Daniel Piatkin says:

          no OUTDOOR is allowed in Redding, CA not even in a greenhouse !! and if you grow indoors you sign away your Civil Rights as far as illegal search and seizure without a warrant !! Ya, you fight for Peoples Rights ?? Gotta Call B.S. on that one pal !!

          • Avatar Tim says:

            A secure, fully enclosed greenhouse with filtered ventilation can comply with the Redding ordinance.

          • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

            Supposedly, Redding has a personal indoor growing fee as well, but I can’t find it on the website, and Willkomm didn’t know what it was. From the information on the website, it certainly appears a qualifying structure, after building permits, fees, etc. would cost considerable more than $5000, not to mention paying for electricity. This is by design, so people will be discouraged.

        • Avatar James M Benno says:

          It applies to each and every resident of CA. I just beat this charge after a four year long trial. Tim you really have no idea what you are talking about. The Charge was thrown out by the judge.

          • Avatar Tim says:

            I do know what I’m talking about – truth is you were lucky to face so much incompetence from the DA’s office. The question of whether ethanol is volatile relates only to the sentencing enhancement falling under 11379.6(d):

            ****
            11379.6 (d) The fact that a violation of this section involving the use of a volatile solvent to chemically extract concentrated cannabis occurred within 300 feet of an occupied residence or any structure where another person was present at the time the offense was committed may be considered a factor in aggravation by the sentencing court.
            ****

            You still clearly violated section 11379.6(a) by using chemical extraction, rather than the old-fashioned & chemical-free dry-rub method:

            ****
            11379.6 (a) Except as otherwise provided by law, every person who manufactures, compounds, converts, produces, derives, processes, or prepares, either directly or indirectly by chemical extraction or independently by means of chemical synthesis, any controlled substance specified in Section 11054, 11055, 11056, 11057, or 11058 shall be punished by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 of the Penal Code for three, five, or seven years and by a fine not exceeding fifty thousand dollars ($50,000).
            ****

            Again NEITHER PROP 64 NOR PROP 215 DECRIMINALIZED SECTION 11379.6!!! “Except as otherwise provided by law” refers to the legal/licensed/regulated extraction methods which, even for ethanol, require the local fire Marshall to inspect the operation & sign off on it.

      • Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

        Did Tim even read your article prior to posting?

        Your article reminds me of what happened to Doni and her handyman when when a Little Caesar is able to hide behind nebulous regulations.

    • Avatar Michael Rubin says:

      There are no certainties in gardening. Extracts take large quantities. Google Dedi Meiri. “Smoking joints ” is not even relevant.

      • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

        Hi Mike. I was trying to hint at those uncertainties in gardening by mentioning the russet mites. Every season is different. That’s one reason why medical marijuana patients are permitted to grow more than six plants under Prop. 64.

    • Avatar Rumadyet says:

      I hope you never get cancer. Sad state of affairs.

  2. Avatar Kristin says:

    In no way was this man bothering anyone by treating his own cancer. This is ridiculous

  3. Avatar Karen Calanchini says:

    Wow, very interesting story, thank Doni. I wonder why he was the chosen one to get cited.

  4. Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

    No complaint had been lodged. This reminds me of the HOAs that are coming under fire down here in Phoenix and elsewhere, Last week I had a neighbor circulating a petition to curb HOA power. The HOAs have associates who drive and walk the area to take pictures of violations so they can fine you. $150.00 for not putting your garbage cans out of sight, backyard or garage, eight hours after collection is done.
    As for the growing of MJ plants, he should have stayed in Colorado. I knew a few people who left Colorado to go to the coast because they didn’t like Colorado’s regulations. They came back to Colorado.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Colorado is supposedly better now, although high rents remain an issue. (Where don’t they these days?) The only inspector that’s been out my way is CAL-FIRE and I was happy to show them around and get some tips. I’d probably have a heart attack if the sheriff drove down the driveway, and I’m not doing anything illegal.

      • Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

        Denver is high priced and has strict MJ regulations. Getting out of the Denver area is cheaper and less restrictions.

  5. Avatar Karen Calanchini says:

    Kristin, I hope you never experience living to someone who extracts the oil. A friend of mine did and it almost burned up his home. The offending house had to be blown up which in itself was a trauma for the neighborhood.

  6. Thank you, R.V., for taking on this story that shows how upside down our legal and medical systems are.

    My heart goes out to Mike Rubin and his wife. Can you imagine what it took for this couple to come across the country in search of a place to legally grow plants to treat Rubin’s cancer?

    What gets me is that nobody complained about Rubin, and yet Willkomm sought out Rubin, a man growing cannabis to treat his tumors, in a city were we’re always told code enforcement can’t get through the growing backlog (last I heard was more than 600) of filed complaints because code enforcement is understaffed and overwhelmed.

    I hope that Cope is able to help Rubin.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Doni, I was trying to find a link to that backlog issue, but couldn’t find it. I know some people don’t want weed next to them in their yard, but that wasn’t the case here. Maybe they should work on real complaints?

  7. Avatar Annelise Pierce says:

    Would be interesting to learn how the city uses the money from such fines and how much they made in such fines last year. Are they a self supporting department?

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      That would be interesting Annelise. In the Fontana case (I think) the judge found that Fontana’s indoor licensing fee for a personal grow was way higher than required to process the license, making it a tax and therefore illegal. They had the city revise it.

  8. Avatar Billy Bob says:

    Don’t worry I was fined $63,000 for an unpermitted outbuilding and cloth pots on an A1 zoned property. WTF is Redding thinking!? Am I going to pay? No, but when codes violations are cleared you can bet I’m hiring a lawyer to settle the final fine. Fuck this place and codes enforcement aka the dregs of society. Guess California needs to excessively fine people to take care of all the government programs ?

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      In Shasta County and now Redding’s, there’s no longer any middle ground. Everyone’s playing for keeps.

  9. Avatar Robert Scheide Sr. says:

    I grew pot one year and then it became illegal. I use it daily because of a terrible sleep problem and it works.

    The outdoor grow ban is totally stupid. I understand some don’t like the smell but the truth be known it only stinks bad the last few weeks. Seems like all could deal with the smell for the few weeks.

    The cost of buying two grams of pot a day is a lot more than 60 bucks. There are so many pot products on the market it requires a lot of homework and experiments to find what strain works for you. I currently use Synergy as my source. They have lots of product and are very knowledgable.

    I can’t imagine the strain on Rubin to be able to find away to get the pot he needs. Someone suggested he just put up a greenhouse to grow six plants, it’s not quite that simple, there are all kinds regulations on how it must be run to grow pot.

    Small minds fail to consider the plight of their neighbors and go on the attack, and another sick person lives in fear.

    • Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

      It might be well for Mr. Rubin to pull up Redding stakes and move north to Shasta Lake City, taking his seedlings with him.

      Doni, thanks for removing Tim’s probably-bombastic response to Elly.

    • Avatar Tim says:

      Unfortunately, those “few weeks” of bad marijuana stink happen to be when Reddingites can finally enjoy their backyards in temperate weather.

      • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

        There’s plenty of room here and if your neighbor doesn’t like it, don’t grow.

      • Avatar Marion says:

        I live in Pennsylvania. My neighbors who live over a mile away fertilize their fields by spreading manure. It smells something fierce. On the nicest of days I’m outside playing with my children and it can be unbearable. Never once would I think to complain about this. They are doing something natural to feed their family and sell at the local farmers market. There are also cherry blossom trees lining the roads by where I work. They are beautiful but smell like rotting fish. Not once did I think to ask anyone to chop down their trees. Suck it up. This guy is fighting for his life and you are concerned about a foul smell. (His neighbors did not have an issue nor did the complain. ) It seems like Mike isn’t just some pot head looking to get high off his own supply. He has spent hours upon hours researching the best, safest way to treat his cancer. I wish my parents (who both passed away from cancer) had the ability to do what he is doing. When did the citizens of America become so desensitized to human suffering and lose their empathy? And let’s be honest here. We all know why they want the plants gone. More Marijuana sales means more tax dollars for the city. Isn’t the freedom we want for Mike the reason we fought for our independence? America got lost somewhere along the way. We were once a country for the people. We are now a country for the lobbyist.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Dad, I’m glad Synergy exists and has the products that you need and that you can afford the cost. As you point out, it might actually cost Mike more than $60 per day to get the treatment he needs. That’s not a slight on Synergy, they have to make a living too. But there’s no question Prop. 64 has left many medical marijuana patients out in the cold.

  10. Avatar Larry Winter says:

    My State Senator is a co-sponsor to SB 34 that would amend cannabis regs to allow cannabis medicinal products to be donated to low income patients and to exempt use tax requirements. It’s almost out of the Senate and there doesn’t seem to be any opposition to it. Here’s an excerpt.

    “authorize those specified licensees to provide free cannabis or cannabis products to a medicinal cannabis patient or the patient’s primary caregiver if specified requirements are met, including that the cannabis or cannabis products otherwise meet specified requirements of MAUCRSA. The bill would authorize those specified licensees to contract with an individual or organization to coordinate the provision of free medicinal cannabis and medicinal cannabis products on the retailer’s premises.”

    https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201920200SB34

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      This looks like a great piece of legislation Larry. And the fact that it exists demonstrates that medical marijuana patients across the state are getting screwed by local counties and municipalities interpretation of “reasonable regulation” under Prop. 64. One problem with the legislation is patients are required to register in the state’s database, and so far, most patients haven’t been too keen to do that, for obvious reasons.

    • I hope people like Mike Rubin live to see this legislation come to fruition. (But I agree with R.V., below, who guesses that most patients would be reluctant to add their names to a database. There’s the rub.)

  11. Avatar Billy bob says:

    The fine goes to the property owner so I’m at a loss as to why the grower is being fined? When I rented out my 10 acres it wasnt the tenants that took the fines it was me the property owner that had to deal with the 63K outlandish fine.

  12. Avatar Randy says:

    I think the truth should be quite clear to everyone.

    Shasta County
    “As of June 30, 2015 (the latest data available from CalPERS), Shasta County has an unfunded pension liability of $125,386,389 in its Miscellaneous Plan and $62,598,535 in its Safety Plan. In addition, there is an unfunded liability of $186,000,000 in an OPEB Plan.”

    https://www.co.shasta.ca.us/docs/libraries/grand-jury-docs/full-reports/2016-2017-full-report-and-responses.pdf?sfvrsn=2

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      If you mean the city is gouging medical marijuana patients in order to meet its pension obligations, I just might be inclined to agree with you.

  13. Joanne Snyder Joanne Snyder says:

    Thank you so much for this article R.V. My thoughts are with Mike Rubin. When I and my husband were threatened with $1,000 a day fines for something out of our control, I lost my notion that I lived in a county that that followed logical guidelines and was concerned about the welfare of its citizens. I’m glad Mike isn’t caving to this threat.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      It’s pretty incredible how they pull this $1000 figure out of their hat, no matter what the code violation is.

  14. R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

    The same day this story came out, the cannabis website Leafly published this story about the same subject in Humboldt County, where they’re fining un-permitted grows $10,000 per day. Looks like they have about 10 times the activity we have here in Shasta County. Here’s an exerpt:

    “County officials are doing it not with SWAT team raids, but by enforcing a laundry list of civil codes. And it’s having an effect. Civil code enforcement is decimating California’s legacy cannabis growers like criminal prohibition never could.”

    Here’s the link to the whole story:

    https://www.leafly.com/news/politics/in-californias-cannabis-war-civil-is-the-new-criminal

    • Avatar Richard Christoph says:

      Excellent article, R.V.
      Thanks for the link.

    • Avatar Larry Winter says:

      It’s happening here in Trinity County also, though they haven’t purchased real-time satellite imagery like Humboldt did. What a concept to sit at a desk and look at the imagery and cross reference it with any permits. Anyway, Trinity County seems to be concentrating on certain watersheds that are being impacted by grows. The raids aren’t as “civil” as the article implies though. Hayfork had 3 national guard helicopters flying around the day they took out numerous grows. There’s been claims that they will hold you at gunpoint and rifle through your house and all of your belongings. The National Guard were sent up here by the Governor when he pulled them from the border, and they are providing assistance to the State and County “regulators”. A very heavy military look to it all.

      I’m glad to say that my wife and I have an annual permit from the state to grow 25 plants. We can garden to our hearts delight with no fear. Priceless!

    • Avatar Larry Winter says:

      They are using National Guard helicopters and support staff making it look very military. They had 3 helicopters in Hayfork recently and it freaks out the whole town, growing or not. It still seems to have that SWAT feel to it and the number of law and code enforcement officers is daunting. Humboldt County’s approach using satellite images that they pay $200,000 to enlist the services of the Planet Labs, Inc. satellite imagery company for one year of service but the county asserts that they will save $135,000 through the reduction of on-site inspections.

      I’m glad to say that my wife and I received our State annual permit to grow 25 plants for the adult use market. We can garden to our hearts delight, stress free. A priceless experience.

      • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

        All this paramilitary activity for a plant that’s supposedly more legal now than it was before Prop. 64? No wonder people don’t trust the government.

  15. Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

    Having lived so close to Colorado I saw the rise of MJ in personal contact. The Aurora Childrens Hospital have many patients that moved to Colorado. With all the millions they are getting, even from out of state, for MMJ research I wonder if Mike Rubin sent them a list of his actions, as he describes on here, that the Aurora Hospital might accept him as a research patient. Not all their patients reside in the hospital, many are outpatients.
    Just a thought as Colorado seems to have done a more sensible route to MJ legalization.

  16. Avatar Michael Rubin says:

    Tim is a great example of how difficult things can be

  17. Avatar Anita Brady says:

    I haven’t read all the comments above, but when I read things like Tim’s first one, I think– only by the grace of God has he not had to deal with such things in his life. He or his loved ones must not have suffered and “normal” treatment been unsuccessful. He has never had lives at risk to seek alternatives.

    Shame on anyone here who complains about growing your own medicine. The Rx industry is responsible for thousands and thousands of deaths annually (opioid crisis) and merrily raked in billions of $$$. No code enforcement fines for them. Mike is growing some plants.

    Yes, the plants smell close to the end. So do my neighbor’s two horse pastures. They attract nasty flies too! Then there is the small acreage west of my home with horses, cows and lamas. Don’t get me started. PS- they smell all year round. Cannabis plants are silent; the neighbor’s party went on past midnight on a week night. The dogs bark constantly.

    Anyway, RV, great article. I am hopeful Mr. Cope will be able to get the fine mitigated quickly for Mike can concentrate on keeping alive. I hope groups that grow for medicine will hear his plea and step forward to help.

  18. Avatar Mike Harris says:

    Good read. I hope Mr Rubin and his family will be able to prevail. Thanks for the mention of the Fontana case too, as I am encouraged that the news reached nor Cal. Respectfully, MIke Harris, Fontana.