LOWER LAKE – LAKE COUNTY As often happens in Lake County, it all began with a traffic stop. Last Wednesday, November 13 at 9:20 in the morning, a patrol deputy in the area of Spruce Grove Road and Highway 29 spotted a Chevrolet pickup truck traveling north on the highway. It caught his notice for several reasons; it was missing a front licence plate, window tinting that looked out of code, and the driver was tailgating another car.
The deputy conducted a traffic stop for these violations. According to a Sheriff’s press release, as he approached the truck, he smelled the all too familiar odor of marijuana. He proceeded as normal, and spoke to the driver, 33-year-old Jason Daniel Jones of Hidden Valley Lake, which is several miles south of Lower Lake and the Clear Lake area. As the deputy explained the reason for the stop, Jones explained that he had already argued the window tinting issue before, and was not worried that it was in violation. As the deputy went back to check on Jones’ driving status with the Central Dispatch, a K9 unit arrived to assist, and the eager dog was allowed to conduct her own search. She communicated a positive alert at the passenger door, giving the deputies cause to conduct a further search of the vehicle. They found a garbage bag containing four individually wrapped clear bags with marijuana inside.
Jones explained that he was running an marijuana collective – the D&M Compassion Center at 14491 Olympic Drive in Clearlake. He further shared that the 4 one pound bags are part of what he buys at this time of year to sell to his Members next year, at $2,500 per pound. He said he has about 3,000 members for the collective.
The Lake County Sheriff’s Narcotics Task Force took over the investigation into Jones’ operation. They secured the store while they obtained a search warrant. They also detained a store employee, 21-year-old Brandon Keith Givens of Clearlake, who personally had 5 one pound bags of marijuana intended for sale. Within the business, detectives cataloged a total of 49 pounds of packaged processed marijuana and 30 plants. They also took in possession the business ledgers detailing the for-profit sales conducted at the Compassion Center.
Perhaps unaware that an investigation was going on, several people dropped in with marijuana to sell, or to collect on debts from previous sales to Jones. It became clear that Jones had been purchasing marijuana from people outside the membership of the D&M Compassion Center.
According to California state law, based on the California Compassionate Use Act of 1996, and expanded under 2004’s SB 420, patients and their primary caregivers are allowed personal possession and cultivation, but not sales of marijuana to others. Additionally, patient co-ops or collectives can grow, distribute and sell medical marijuana on a non-profit basis to members. Detectives found evidence that Jones was both working for profit and dealing with individuals outside of the collective he had established. They cited evidence that he purchased marijuana for between $1,000 and $1,800 per pound and selling it for $2,500.
Jones and his helper Givens were arrested for possession of marijuana for sales, and Jones was also charged with transportation of marijuana. They were booked at the Lake County Hill Road Correctional Facility. Additionally “drop by” suspects Joel Zeigler, 41, Christopher Begley, 36, Michael Edward Bergin, 50, all of Clearlake, and Jamil Usman, 35 of Lower Lake, face possible charges of possession and transportation of marijuana.
Lake County News: Search warrant served at Clearlake dispensary, two arrested