Hal Pilotte and his wife Ann were raided by the DEA in their gated over-55 community Ocean Hills, after he was caught delivering baked goods to a collective he was a member of that was being surveilled by the DEA. The Pilottes were interviewed by host Lanny Swerdlow on KCAA 1050AM in Loma Linda on October 15.
Pilotte said when the raid happened he jumped out of bed and proceeded to walk out in the hallway in his underwear. “Hit the floor!” he was told, just before five guys threw him onto the concrete floor, stepping on his head with their boots, forcing his arms behind his head and putting handcuffs on him in the middle of his forearms. “Who are you?” he asked. “I thought somebody was playing a joke on me,” he said.
Pilotte, 58, who has a back injury, told them, “I’m doing this legally.” “Not in the United States you’re not,” was the response.
Ann said there were altogether 15 officers in riot gear with pulled guns at the raid. She was in the bedroom, and a female officer came in and detained her while they took down her 6′ 7″ husband. “So I hear this yelling and screaming, I’m trying to get out and into my jeans and the girl is really stalling me. I hear Hal crying and screaming as they’re kicking and abusing him, begging for mercy. I don’t know how other people feel but when you hear your husband like that, it tears your gut, especially when you can’t get out there.”
The couple has two Maltese dogs that were barking, which infuriated the feds. One tried to put a dog into a canvas shopping bag and take her outside. They said they had to separate all animals and not give them comfort.
Ann, 66, said, “Having cannabis was the one thing that helped me. I had wrecked my stomach with Tylenol and Norco for all these years. Here I thought it was a godsend and they’re yelling, ‘Feds trump State.'” She has multiple health problems, including a bout with MRSA, plus arthritis and fibromyalgia.
The Pilottes had a big turnout at their last court hearing, mostly from fellow seniors in their community, most of them not medical marijuana patients themselves.
“We’ve lived in this community for 12 years now, and had the good fortune to meet quite a lot of people, and we have a large base of acquaintances and friends,” said Hal, who said he and Ann used to put on events for their profession. “I had a list of about 200-250 people on an email list, and I shot out a special request asking people for their support, and fortunately we had an outpouring.”
One factor that brought them out, Ann said, was, “They didn’t have a warrant with our name, just our address, and our friends were thinking, ‘We could have been dog sitting or something over there.’ It scared ’em to death.”
Another factor was the deterioration of Ann’s condition. “I had no canes, no anything, and now that they’re taking it away from me, I’m bedridden and in a wheelchair most of the time. People got it. They realized it wasn’t a recreational thing. It was just so lovely of them.”
“This was political,” Hal said, because attorney Jeffrey Lake had been able to keep the collective open by filing suit against San Marcos. “I had to sit down and reread the constitution of the United States, and I saw that they violated #1, 2, 3, 4…they violated the entire Bill of Rights.” Hal’s time in jail was described as “horrendous” from the couple who said they were formerly trusting of their government.
Americans for Safe Access have been very supportive, Hal said, suggesting people check their calendar for court dates. The next one is November 28 at 9:30AM. (Cal NORML is also covering Pilotte’s and other federal cases.)
Marijuana Compassion and Common Sense (MCCS) airs and streams every Monday at 6PM at www.kcaaradio.com.