Chronicle outdoors writer Tom Stienstra, 55, his wife were arrested for investigation of possessing marijuana for sale and released March 26 on $75,000 bail after sheriff’s deputies found a large marijuana growing operation in his barn in the town of Weed, according to the AP and the Sacramento Bee.

Officers seized 31 mature marijuana plants and 21 immature plants, 11 pounds of dried marijuana, packaging materials and scales from a barn on Stienstra’s property, said Siskiyou County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Susan Gravenkamp.

However, prosecutors have sent the case back to the sheriff’s office for more investigation and have not filed any charges.

The AP reported:

    Scales, packaging material and other paraphernalia were confiscated from Stienstra’s barn and home, … Gravenkamp said.

    Deputies found medical marijuana recommendations for Stienstra, his wife and her 18-year-old son, who was not arrested, Gravenkamp said.

    Until recently, California law limited medical marijuana users to possessing six mature or 12 immature plants, and 8 ounces of processed dried marijuana unless individual counties set higher limits. The state Supreme Court struck down those limits in January, sending police, prosecutors and users into a state of confusion over how much marijuana will not count as too much.

    Chronicle editor-in-chief Ward Bushee said the newspaper knew little about the allegations against Stienstra and hoped the case was resolved quickly. In the meantime, the Chronicle would continue to publish his columns, Bushee said.

The SacBee had more information about the medical marijuana angle:

    Legal observers say police can still make arrests based on local plant standards but likely have to establish in court that the marijuana quantity exceeds what is needed for reasonable personal use or that there are other factors indicating criminal behavior. 
    “In an case involving medical marijuana that has a (physician’s) recommendation, you can be sure that is something we would be looking to document,” [Siskiyou County District Attorney J. Kirk] Andrus said. “It’s an absolute defense in the state of California as long as it can be proven to be reasonable.”

(Photo credit: Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office)

Bay Area Media News


  1. I expect he'll claim it was part of a medical growing operation and that that law is vague and doesn't limit the amount that somebody can grow or possess under Prop 215 for medical uses. It seems to be his only defense at this point. When you are caught with 11 pounds of processed pot, well, that's not normally a misdemeanor…

  2. The Cheech and Chong Chronicle has to have a reason to publish. Losing hundreds of million dollars shows that they aren't a viable newspaper business. Making it back by distributing the farming efforts of their writers makes more sense.

  3. Right now, this case doesn't seem too serious. But if the prosecutor really goes after Stienstra, I wouldn't be surprised if he and the Chron pulled the First Amendment card and argued that the search of the barn was illegal because he had his notes in there, or a computer.

  4. so they've got an employee who is accused of distributing marijuana, and he'll be allowed to continue his job like nothing has happened? don't tell me the chron isn't liberal!

  5. I meant great marijuana *growing* locations. I've been smoking too much of the stuff myself to write anything intelligent.

  6. What a stupid waste of government time and resources! Wouldn't it be ironic if we voted in 7 months to legalize the stuff.

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