MODESTO POT SHOP FEATURED ON TV: Sunday night's '60 Minutes' episode featured former Modesto marijuana dispensary manager Luke Scarmazzo, who was arrested in September 2006 with three other men on charges related to the McHenry Avenue dispensary. The news show explored the debate surrounding California's marijuana dispensaries: the flexibility built into the state's medical marijuana laws and the increasing federal crackdown on "California's Pot Shops." Scarmazzo said he was not a drug dealer but a businessman and hip-hop artist. Correspondent Morley Safer highlighted the profitability of cannabis clubs, how easy it is to get a doctor's note approving medical marijuana and what it's like on the inside of the dispensary business. Safer said Scarmazzo soon will stand trial. Scarmazzo has pleaded not guilty and is not in custody.
MARIJUANA PLANTS DESTROYED: The Tuolumne County Narcotics Team destroyed 786 marijuana plants Friday from the area of Woods Creek near Jacksonville Road. The plants were on private property in a remote area, officials said. Deer hunters spotted the plants a week ago and told the property owner, who called authorities. The plants ranged from 2 to 6 feet tall and were heavily budded; officials estimated their street value at $3.5 million. The garden appeared to be a local operation, rather than one linked to Mexican drug trafficking, according to Sgt. Scott Johnson of the Tuolumne County Sheriff's Department.
TWO MEN ARRESTED AFTER CHASE: Sheriff's deputies arrested two men who led them on a vehicle chase from Waterford to south Modesto while throwing handguns from their van Sunday afternoon, officials said. Around 3:45 p.m., a Stanislaus County deputy tried to stop the van, driven by Modestan Michael L. Grissom, 26, near Yosemite Boulevard for a traffic violation, sheriff's spokesman deputy Royjindar Singh said. Grissom and his passenger, whom authorities identified as Otoniel Munoz Jr., 27, of Riverbank, drove from Waterford to Empire, then to Hughson, Turlock, Ceres and Modesto. Twice during the chase, Singh said, deputies saw someone in the van throw a handgun out the window; deputies picked up the weapons. Deputies used spike strips to stop the van near Bystrum Road and Ninth Street; they had to use a canine to convince the men to come out of the van. Munoz and Grissom were arrested on suspicion of carrying a firearm in public, illegal possession of a firearm and violation of parole, with a gang enhancement. Grissom, the driver, also was arrested on suspicion of evading a peace officer. Both men were held at the county jail without bail because of the parole violations, Singh said.
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