Medical marijuana advocate arrested

Medical marijuana advocate arrested

REDDING, Calif. - A well-known medical marijuana advocate in Shasta County is under arrest for a number of charges relating to the possession and sale of marijuana.

48-year-old James Benno and his two sons: 22-year-old Jacob Benno and 19-year-old Logan Benno were arrested Tuesday morning.

The charges include: possession of marijuana with intent to sale, manufacturing a controlled substance, armed while committing a felony, conspiracy, use of a 911 line with intent to harass, and obstructing and delaying an officer.

Shasta County drug agents said they cut down 101 plants during what they said is one of the biggest backyard grows they've ever seen.

Agents found weapons, ammunition and more than 60 pounds of processed marijuana. They also found $5,000 worth of $20 bills, and evidence that honey oil was being manufactured.

Sergeant Barry Powell, with the marijuana investigation team, said it  wasn't for medical use.

"Evidence, what we found here, is supporting more than a medicinal type of cultivation," Powell said. "It's supporting sales: packaging, scales, currency."

Shasta County Code Enforcement Manager Dale Fletcher said there were several violations, and that the property had been watched for some time.

"On Easter Sunday we came out with CHP, and we actually identified the space from last year's garden," Fletcher said. "This was kind of a follow up from that."

James Benno's attorney Michael Scheibli had no comment Tuesday, but said he should have a statement Wednesday.

A fourth man, Eli Dippold, who was living on the property but wasn't arrested, said it wasn't right.

"Anytime that I wake up and get put into cuffs when all I was doing was sleeping in a tent out here, I don't think that's right," Dippold said. "We're just trying to provide medicine to sick people."

CLARIFICATION: An earlier version of this article said 60,000 pounds of processed marijuana were confiscated. This was a typo, 60 pounds were seized.

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