District Attorney Gallegos Going After Trimmers
As prices for pot drop, prices for trimming have begun slowly to drop, too. Growers have argued that trimmers don’t really face much risk and yet they get over 10% of the income. (Prices last year roughly averaged around $16oo per pound for outdoor and $28oo for indoor while trimming fees were around $200 per pound.) No one could even name a trimmer who had ever been arrested. But for the last year or two, there has been a new trend in the Emerald Triangle– charging trimmers.
Today the Times Standard’s Thadeus Greenson put out an excellent piece on what many observers had begun to suspect—that trimmers are being targeted by law enforcement. In the article, Paul Gallegos responds to the concern that big growers are able to forfeit money and do some community service and walk away while trimmers, with no money to sweeten the desire to deal, remain in jail awaiting trial.
District Attorney Paul Gallegos said defense attorneys in this case, and others, simply think trimmers should get a “sweet deal” but he’s not inclined to give them one.
”They are all engaged in a criminal enterprise so we expect them all to plead guilty to a felony,” Gallegos said.
With Proposition 36 mandating treatment, not prison, for qualifying nonviolent drug offenders and a recent corrections re-alignment bill keeping low-level offenders out of state prisons, Gallegos said everyone involved knows none of these people are going to prison. Nonetheless, Gallegos said he expects trimmers to plead guilty to a felony and, ultimately, give back to the community through a sentence of community service, just like growers.
Gallegos also disputed that this stance puts trimmers and growers on the same level. First, he said, a judge is going to dole out harsher sentences for growers. Second, he said, people should keep in mind that growers sustain other losses when busted.
”The people that we believe are running the business, we are taking them out of business,” he said. “The big people, they lose all their money, all their product and all the capital.”
The trimmers lose less at a bust because they have not invested in the enterprise, Gallegos said.
That whole line of reasoning has problems, according to [defense attorney] Schwartz.
”That logic of their suffering greater consequences doesn’t make any sense,” he said. “That’s the risk they take. It’s like feeling sorry for Bernie Madoff because he lost everything — his yachts and his homes in New York. … To say that their ill-gotten gains are all gone therefore they suffered greater consequences just doesn’t make any sense.”
Whether or not it makes sense, taking a hard line on prosecuting trimmers is going to be the approach, Gallegos said, adding that he is actually working with law enforcement to target busts for when as many people are at the scene as possible. Recent cases — which have featured the arrest of dozens of trimmers — should send a message, Gallegos said.
”These people need to understand that they are engaged in illegal activities and there will be consequences until the law is changed,” Gallegos said. “I hope they understand that we are looking and we are watching and we are waiting until they’re there to do our busts.”
You need to read the whole article. The disparity between what the grower has agreed to (the judge could still nix the deal) and what the trimmers face is disheartening considering the relative profit that each stood to gain. On top of that, is this where we want to spend our limited cash resources in this county? Prosecuting trimmers? In the case being referred to above, as a plethora of interpreters as well as public defense attorneys were used and at least one of the trimmers has not made bail (risk of flight because of nationality and visa issues) and thus is being housed at county expense, the costs must be astronomical. The system is totally broken if it makes sense to send a non-violent, wage worker to county jail while confiscating only money and time from a grower. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against the deal that was made for the grower– I’m against the proportion of punishment that falls on the person least likely to have contributed to any actual criminal behavior. Marijuana manicurists often have little or no true knowledge of illegal activity of the grower they work for.
Trimmers have nothing to do with sales.
They shouldn’t be seeing the inside of jails.