Westminster marijuana-rights proponent fights to keep home, business

February 28, 1993|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Staff Writer

Embattled Westminster marijuana-rights activist Pamela Snowhite Davis is less than two months away from losing her home and her business.

Facing two drug distribution trials -- with the possibility of years behind bars if she is convicted -- the counterculture shop owner and outspoken critic of the county's drug task force learned last week that the Taneytown Bank & Trust Co. won't renew a $175,000 line of credit secured by Terrapin Station, her 80-acre Silver Run farm.

If she doesn't pay off the loan by April 11, she could lose her home.

But her home and her freedom aren't all that she stands to lose.

Ms. Davis' landlord at the Westminster Shopping Center told her last month that she and Liberation -- her "head shop" and clothing boutique -- are no longer welcome, and ordered her to leave.

"I admit I'm pesky and annoying, but give me a break. Is that a reason to destroy my life?," Ms. Davis said Friday. "I thought we lived in America and had the right to opposing viewpoints. But here, that seems to be cause for persecution."

That persecution, she says, began when the Carroll County Narcotics Task Force showed up at her farm dressed as United Parcel Service deliverymen. They presented a woman who answered the front door with a package addressed to the farm. (( When the woman signed for it, the bogus UPS men raided the place, and seized what they said was a small amount of marijuana.

They also seized more than $40,000 worth of computer equipment Ms. Davis used in her business, and kept it for several weeks until she filed a lawsuit demanding its return.

Ms. Davis also was indicted on four criminal drug charges.

The day before she was to go on trial in November, the task force raided her Liberation store. The officers seized more than $1,000 in cash, business records and two pounds of sterilized marijuana seeds that the store sold in conjunction with a hemp cookbook.

That raid left Ms. Davis with a night in jail, another four-count indictment and another trial.

It also annoyed the store's landlord.

"You are hereby given notice that within 30 days . . . the landlord intends to repossess the premises," Westminster attorney J. Barry Hughes told Ms. Davis in a letter Jan. 20. Mr. Hughes represents Washington Real Estate Investment Trust, which manages the shopping center.

Mr. Hughes' letter said Ms. Davis was being evicted because she had been "repeatedly posting unauthorized signs in the window, posting a sign which describes police as unwelcome . . . [and] using the rented premises to advocate the use and or legalization of illicit drugs."

The letter said the way Ms. Davis operates her shop tends "to injure the reputation of the Westminster Shopping Center."

On Friday, Mr. Hughes said that the center management has not filed formal eviction papers in Carroll District Court, but probably would do so.

"If she doesn't leave voluntarily, [eviction] would be consistent with the tenor of our letter," the attorney said.

Stephen P. Bourexis, Ms. Davis' attorney, said she does not intend to vacate the store.

"Essentially, she's being thrown out of her business and thrown out of her home because she's spoken out," Mr. Bourexis said. "They can't see her strictly as a good tenant or as a good loan customer. This whole thing is inequitable."

Ms. Davis and her former husband, Daniel, obtained the Taneytown Bank line of credit five years ago and used their $380,000 farm as collateral. The terms of the loan call for it to be renewed annually.

Last month, Ms. Davis said, Edwin L. Koons, a vice president of the bank, told her that the $175,000 loan would be renewed again this year.

On Wednesday, Mr. Koons sent Ms. Davis a letter saying "Taneytown Bank and Trust Co. will not renew the . . . line of credit. The loan . . . will have to be paid in full on or before April 11, 1993."

Mr. Koons could not be reached for comment Friday.

Ms. Davis said she is looking for other sources of money to pay off the loan, but she isn't optimistic she'll find anybody willing to back her.

"I'm in a stage of total disbelief, I'm detached from it, I feel numb," she said. "This is so surrealistic for me. It seems like something you would be watching on the TV or movie screen and say, 'Certainly this would never happen in real life.' "

Ms. Davis is scheduled to go to trial in the UPS case on March 24. Her second trial is set for May.

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