Mountain View Voice

News - June 11, 2010

Medical pot user busted for growing

Police say 53 pot plants was too many

by Daniel DeBolt

A man arrested May 25 for allegedly possessing large quantities of marijuana for sale has the full support of his mother, who disputes several felony charges filed against her son. She says he was legally possessing marijuana to treat pain from a car crash that left him with numerous injuries.

Police have charged Pasha Kharazi, 29, for possessing marijuana for sale after he was found growing 53 pot plants in his apartment on the 500 block of Ortega Avenue. Police said they also found a pair of brass knuckles, a smoking pipe with methamphetamine residue, just over five ounces of harvested marijuana and evidence that the marijuana was going to be sold.

Pasha's mother, Susan Kharazi, said Pasha had a doctor's prescription for the marijuana and was growing it legally to treat chronic pain resulting from a car accident in 2000, she said. After the accident he was in a coma for six weeks and was left with his face half-paralyzed, no hearing in one ear, nerve damage, rods and screws in one of his legs, and anxiety and insomnia, among other problems.

"He's really struggled with life since the accident," she said.

While Kharazi does not want to dispute all of the facts of the case publicly, she spoke in a City Council meeting last week, pleading for help.

"He's a good kid. He followed all the regulations and that's what happened to him," Kharazi said. "I'm hoping the chief of police will speak to me because I'd really like to get some help."

Kharazi was able to talk to police chief Scott Vermeer at the end of the meeting.

The day of the arrest

On May 25, the landlord of Pasha's apartment complex called police about a circuit breaker box that had been repeatedly broken into, allegedly by Kharazi. When police walked by Kharazi's apartment the door was open and marijuana plants could be seen in the living room.

Pasha was asleep, as well as another man who was arrested, 48-year-old transient Donald Ely, who police allege to have been involved in growing the plants, though they belonged to Pasha. Ely had a $15,000 warrant for his arrest and was also charged with violating his probation.

Once awakened by a knock at the door, police say that Pasha invited them in to see his plants, and showed police his medical marijuana card. He had medical marijuana regulations posted on his walls. Police found plants in the other rooms of the apartment as well.

"The grow operation he had constructed caused significant damage to the apartment unit," Wylie said. "He had created venting through ceilings" and the extensive lighting was "causing circuit breakers to trip throughout whole complex," including in the laundry room.

Until recently, Santa Clara County made it clear exactly how many medical marijuana plants a medical marijuana user could have for personal use. A recent state court ruling now leaves that decision to doctors and according to police, Pasha's doctor's prescription did not allow him to have as many plants or harvested marijuana as he had in his apartment, police said.

Police found over 150 grams of harvested marijuana, just over five ounces, which is "a lot of marijuana," Wylie said. "The plants were in various stages of growth, but many of them were small," she added.

Police believe Pasha was selling the marijuana because of the amount of marijuana found, along with zip lock bags, a scale, glass jars and paperwork showing how he was pricing the marijuana for sale, Wylie said.

"The last thing we want to do is prohibit somebody from having access to medication," Wylie said. "But to us, this wasn't a simple use of medicinal marijuana. He had a significant growing operation and was dealing it."

Pasha has been charged with cultivating marijuana and possession for sale, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of a prohibited weapon, the brass knuckles. All are felony charges.

Pasha does not face charges for damaging the property.

Released on bail, Pasha faces a judge again on June 29.

Pasha's mother said in a phone interview Tuesday that despite the picture painted by police, "I think we have a good case."

E-mail Daniel DeBolt at ddebolt@mv-voice.com

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