Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu's Medical-Marijuana Connection: His Spokeswoman
Could it be that Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu is even more of a liberal Republican than we thought?
We know he supports same-sex marriage and gays in the military. But what about his views on medical marijuana?
Well, consider that he handpicked for his staff a fitness trainer/bodybuilder/bookkeeper with family ties to two medical marijuana dispensaries in Colorado, and who was once poised to open her own pot shop in Scottsdale.
Sure, Babeu joined a chorus of Arizona sheriffs on July 30, 2012, in a letter urging Governor Jan Brewer to "immediately halt all state involvement in the licensing of marijuana for any purpose."
After all, the sheriffs warned, state employees participating in the medial marijuana program were engaged in "acts that facilitate federal crimes."
And yet, about six months before he signed off on that letter to Brewer decrying the dangers and criminal aspects of medical marijuana, the sheriff
was harboring had hired Paula Pollock to work at the PCSO as his administrative assistant.
Paula Pollock and Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu at a Diamondbacks game in 2011.
Pollock's family is connected to two Today's Health Care (THC), medical marijuana dispensaries, in Colorado. She applied in early 2011, as the proprietor, to open a dispensary, also called, Today's Health Care, in the city of Scottsdale. And up until April 24, 2012, Pollock was the president, secretary, treasurer and director of Today's Health Care, a non-profit corporation registered with the Arizona Corporation Commission.
We called and left messages for Pollock, including at her home, but have not yet heard back from her. (And, no, we didn't use a cup and string.)
Also consider what Babeu had to say when the Town of Superior was weighing passage of its medical marijuana ordinance. When council members asked Babeu for his thoughts, he commented that prescription drugs are probably a larger epidemic, according to the meeting minutes.
"Many people look at it as a gateway drug and less dangerous than a lot of other narcotics and even prescribed drugs," he told the council, according to the minutes.
That's a way-softer position than he and most other Arizona sheriffs took in their letter to Brewer about involvement with medical marijuana constituting federal crimes.
At that same Superior Town Council meeting was Travis Pollock, a medical-marijuana entrepreneur from Colorado who's been working on expanding his business to Arizona for the last three years.
He was discussing his application for a dispensary with council members, and told them he was co-owner of Superior Organics, an Arizona nonprofit entity established to open a medical marijuana facility in Superior, and a former dispensary owner of two facilities in Durango and Cortez in Colorado, according to meeting minutes.
It appears that he is one of Paula's relatives, perhaps a nephew.
Anyhow, Babeu went on to tell the Town of Surperior that one of the concerns for his office was impaired drivers, and noted there would be "zero tolerance" for such motorists.
"This is now the law," he told the council about the state's medical marijuana law, according to meeting minutes, adding that education was the next step.
Very progressive sounding.
(It's worth noting that Jayme Valenzuela, mayor of the Town of Superior, is also a commander in Pinal County Detention Center. Another one of Babeu handpicked staffers.)
Records show Paula Pollock -- an award-winning bodybuilder -- started with the PCSO on January 9, 2012 and was making $54,495 a year. By November 25, 2012, Babeu promoted her to a director in the Public Information Office, bumping her pay to $76,273 a year -- a more than $20,000 raise.
Not shabby when you consider she went from making about $15 a hour for her bookkeeping services and $40 for a personal training session at Freedom Fitness, a Cave Creek gym in 2010.
It's unclear whether others applied for the $76,000-plus gig in the PCSO public information office, or what gave Pollock the edge.
Her PCSO application shows she obtained her GED, attended a few college classes and completed a real estate and business program in Scottsdale.
We do know (from Facebook) that she considers Babeu one of her "closest friends in the whole world" and trusts and loves "him to pieces."
Records show she was an accounting manager for a trailer sales company in New Mexico, was a general contractor for a family construction company in Phoenix, owned her own financial services company in Colorado, and then worked for Freedom Fitness.
Interesting that Pinal County Attorney Lando Voyles believes that Arizona's medical marijuana program encourages "marijuana usage with our youth and organized crime on our streets."
That's what he wrote earlier this month when he praised a CBS 5 "investigation" that included a faulty stat and shaky premise.
Voyles and Babeu -- the Law & Order wonders who ran on the same political ticket -- may be at odds when it comes to medical marijuana.
We know from records Pollock filed with the city of Scottsdale that she and her family claim to have very personal reasons for getting into the medical marijuana business.
Excerpts from Pollock's application:
Proprietor Paula Pollock of Today's Health Care hopes to establish and operate a medical marijuana dispensary facility of the highest caliber at 1585 N. Greenway Hayden Loop in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Ms. Pollock is passionate about entering this industry for personal reasons. Several years ago her sister-in-law and best friend battled with brain cancer. In the final moments of her sister-in-law's life, a doctor suggested that marijuana might improve her quality of life, and facilitate her communications with her family through debilitating pain.
The patient was reluctant to use an illegal substance but when she agreed, the family was about to spend some quality time with her. The family saw the power of the medicine, and since then, an opportunity to help others. Paula does not want to sit idle while others suffer in the same manner.
After her sister-in-law passed, Paula's family opened two dispensaries and a grow facility in Colorado."
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