By GLENDA ANDERSON
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Mendocino County board of supervisors candidate Dan Hamburg has reached a settlement with a man who accused him in a lawsuit of cheating him out of his medical marijuana.
The facts of the case, however, remain clouded by a dispute that raises additional legal and tax issues for the former congressman and his one-time friend.
The terms of the settlement reached late Tuesday remain confidential. Walker was asking for the $7,500 maximum allowed in small claims court. But he claimed in a public letter to Hamburg that he was owed much more for his share of the pot grown on Hamburg’s property in 2008 and 2009.
Hamburg said none of that pot belonged to Walker and that Walker was tending the garden in exchange for rent and his help with legal and medical problems.
“There was no agreement” to either pay or share the crop — about 25 plants each of the two years — with Walker, he said Monday. “We were just trying to help him.” Walker has had a troubled legal past, including drug-related arrests and unpaid child support obligations.
Calvin Walker claimed six of the 24- to 25 plants grown each of the two years on Hamburg’s land were his. The county allows up to six mature plants for each medical marijuana user and a maximum number of 25 plants per land parcel.
A photograph Walker submitted with his lawsuit shows documentation for four medical marijuana users hanging among marijuana plants. They are for Hamburg, his wife, a daughter and Walker.
Hamburg said he didn’t need Walker’s medical marijuana authorization to grow 25 plants legally on his property. Because his wife had cancer, her doctor has recommended more than six plants, he said.
Hamburg potentially could be in legal trouble if he kept marijuana grown under someone else’s medical marijuana card, as Walker contended.
“That’s not in line with what the intention of the (medical marijuana) law was,” said Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman.
Hamburg has dismissed the allegations by Walker as political. He said one of his critics likely hired Ukiah attorney Erik Petersen to help Walker with his lawsuit.
Petersen said he was asked to intervene but is not being paid. He declined to reveal who asked him to help Walker.
The case also raises tax and other legal issues.
If Hamburg and Walker were exchanging goods or services, whether marijuana or labor, it likely should have been reported as income, according to IRS regulations.
“Barter does create income” that should be reported on tax returns, said IRS spokesman Richard Panick.
Hamburg had a run-in with state employment officials over allegations of unreported income in 1992. He was fined for not reporting work he’d done for a contractor while collecting unemployment but was later cleared by an administrative judge who believed Hamburg had not been paid for the work by the contractor, a friend.
News researcher Janet Balicki contributed to this report.