A marijuana collective accused of operating illegally in Murrieta has been the subject of FOX11 News reports this week.
The TV news channel was present at a court hearing Thursday at Southwest Justice Center regarding an unlawful detainer (eviction) proceeding that has been filed against Greenhouse Cannabis Club.
In addition to covering the hearing, the news channel delved into what the collective owner, Eric McNeil, and his attorney, Richard Ackerman, claim are civil rights violations by the Murrieta Police Department.
In a FOX11 News report Thursday, Kevin Ford, a volunteer at Greenhouse Cannabis Club, tells reporters that Murrieta police rigged his car with a GPS unit.
Ford was pulled over in January as he was returning to the club, he told Patch Friday.
He spent the night in jail after he was arrested on suspicion of possession of a controlled substance. It was while his car was impounded that he believes police placed the GPS unit on the bottom of his car.
Ford said he discovered the GPS unit about a week later.
When asked about the alleged tracking device, Murrieta police Lt. Tony Conrad sent this statement to Patch:
"Law enforcement has been using tracking devices on vehicles as an investigative tool when we are investigating a criminal case and/or criminal enterprises. They are common in narcotics type cases. The Murrieta Police Department is no different. It should be noted, in a recent case heard by the US Supreme Court (U.S. v. Jones), as of Feb 24, 2012, law enforcement officers are required to obtain a court order before placing a tracker on a vehicle.
"The Murrieta Police Department is aware of this new case law and abides by it always. Prior to this case law, law enforcement was permitted to place trackers at their own discretion."
Greenhouse Cannabis Club alleges the placement of the GPS unit is one example of the poor treatment they claim to be receiving from the city of Murrieta.
"We are not doing anything illegal, we are being discreet and they are the opposite of discreet," McNeil told Patch Friday.
The club was . The agents were assisted by Murrieta police.
"It was very obvious they came in here to financially hurt us," said McNeil, who has been charged with contempt of court for reopening despite a that the club serve no more than two patients.
Ackerman called the order "extremely vague," which is why he said he advised McNeil to see patients on an appointment basis, no more than two at a time.
A jury is set to decide whether McNeil is guilty of the contempt charge. The trial is slated to start June 1 in Riverside.
In addition, a jury will decide whether the eviction order should stand. That trial is scheduled for April 9 in Corona.
While medical marijuana is legal in California, the city of Murrieta has bans in place on medical marijuana dispensaries. In addition to a court battle with McNeil, the city is involved in a suit over that opened in summer 2011 on Madison Avenue.
McNeil said he would love to sit down with Murrieta City Council in a closed door meeting.
"Just to sit down and talk, maybe we can hash things out," he said. "It is getting out of control.
"They can peacefully walk into our place and see what is going on, we want to extend that arm."
FOX11 News was expected to continue their coverage of Greenhouse Cannabis Club Friday and Saturday, McNeil said.