U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy's assault on medical-marijuana providers already seems like a carnival of follies, but this week she's taken it to a whole new, literal level.
According to a federal court filing dated Feb. 8, Duffy is asking a court to approve the forfeiture of a Whirlwind Cotton Candy machine that a Ramona-based grower used to produce marijuana-laced edibles. The value is estimated at $3,500.
Download a PDF of the filing here.
The cotton-candy machine was seized in September 2011 after California Highway Patrol officers responded to a call about a stolen light generator. It's unclear whether the medical-marijuana grower, Benjie Wyatt, had reported the theft or was a suspect. However, the document states that Wyatt openly told officers that he was growing marijuana in his barn and gave consent to search the property.
The San Diego County Integrated Narcotics Task Force was called in. Officers found approximately 100 plants on site, plus a variety of equipment and materials used to grow marijuana. They also located written harvesting instructions and a notebook containing medical-marijuana recommendations for several patients for whom Wyatt was growing the marijuana. Then there was the cotton-candy machine:
"The back room of the barn contained a large cotton candy bowl on a Whirlwind cotton candy machine," Duffy writes in the complaint. "On the ground next to the cotton candy machine was a box containing approximately thirty containers of cotton candy mixed with marijuana in various colors and flavors."
Wyatt, who is facing criminal charges for marijuana cultivation in Superior Court, admitted that he used about half a cup of concentrated marijuana ("kief") and a cup of the cotton-candy mixture. Officers counted 12 different varieties of cotton candy, but, unfortunately, the flavors were not listed in the court record. Duffy says that Wyatt was marketing the cotton candy under the brand name "Medi-Puff" and selling it online for $26 for a four-pack.
According to medical-marijuana reviewer Steve Elliott, who writes the Incredible Medibles column for Seattle Weekly , that's a reasonable price, assuming each pack contains a full dose. We caught up with Elliott through online chat and asked him whether cotton candy is an effective delivery system for medical marijuana.
"It can be, but care must be taken to medicate the cotton candy heavily enough so that unrealistic amounts don't have to be consumed to achieve a medicinal effect," Elliott writes. "After all, many of the patients are suffering from nausea and can't eat huge amounts of sticky sweet sugar."
Duffy also filed for the forfeiture of $4,260 worth of "miscellaneous components of indoor plant cultivation."
Asset forfeitures like this are usually sold for cash, which is then divvied up among law-enforcement agencies to spend on public-safety projects. As CityBeat reported in October, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis used the federal funds to bank roll "legal research training" through the California District Attorneys' Association. At the time, she served as the president of the association. Tens of thousands also went to the Coalition of Neighborhood Councils, an organization that voiceofsandiego.org reported has come under criticism for accepting large grants for off-mission activities.
Nothing goes better with cotton candy than a nice cup of slush.
Correction: We originally reported Dumanis was chair person of the California District Attorneys' Association. She was actually the president.