Marijuana advocate sued for rent on her store

December 02, 1993|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Staff Writer

Owners of the shopping center where Westminster marijuana-rights activist Pamela Snowhite Davis ran her counter-culture shop sued her yesterday for more than $40,000, mostly for rent.

In a suit filed in Carroll Circuit Court, Washington Real Estate Investment Trust -- owners of the Westminster Shopping Center -- say Davis owes them more than $9,000 in back rent and fees from May until last month. She closed her shop, Liberation, in August after she and the shopping center failed to reach an agreement that would have kept the store open through Labor Day.

In addition to the back rent, the suit claims Davis owes more than $25,000 to cover rent that would have been paid between this month and March 1995, when her lease expires.

The suit also seeks more than $5,000 in legal fees.

"This is a standard business transaction," said Stephan A. Timchula, a Westminster attorney who represents the shopping center. "Legally speaking, that's the deal everyone signed off on."

To Davis, 48, the shopping center's lawsuit is merely the latest in several court actions that have changed her from an obscure businesswoman with no criminal record to a cantankerous activist with a felony drug conviction.

"You know, God bless them," Davis said yesterday, laughing on the phone from her Silver Run farm, Terrapin Station. "I guess they need the money more than I do."

No trial date has been set in the landlord's suit.

Davis was a little-known businesswoman until May 1992, when the Carroll County Narcotics Task Force raided Terrapin Station after a police officer, dressed as a United Parcel Service employee, delivered a package from California addressed to the farm. The package contained 1.5 ounces of marijuana.

In the raid, officers found less than an ounce of marijuana in Davis' night stand. The pot in the package was never recovered because Davis' son ate it.

The so-called "UPS Case" propelled Davis into the public eye. A Carroll jury convicted her of a felony drug charge in March and she was sentenced to two years in state prison in April.

She served nearly two months of the sentence, but gained release on an appeal bond.

Davis also was acquitted in June of other drug charges that stemmed from a task force raid at her store the day before she was to go to trial in the UPS case.

On Monday, a panel of Carroll judges halved Davis' prison sentence, to one year, and gave her credit for the 56 days she already has spent behind bars. Her appeal is to be argued before the Court of Special Appeals next month.

Since Davis closed Liberation -- which she used as a soap box for her anti-drug war viewpoints -- she almost lost Terrapin Station to a bank that held a $175,000 loan secured by the farm.

An anonymous donor rescued the farm on the eve of a foreclosure auction.

Davis said yesterday that she has decided to sell the farm and leave Carroll County, a place she has called home since the 1980s. She has put Terrapin Station on the market for $369,500, and is considering opening a store on West Read Street in Mount Vernon, the heart of Baltimore's bohemian community.

"You know, I think I'll call it Marijuana Momma's," she said, referring to the moniker given her this summer by a Washington Post headline writer. The store would be "all hemp," specializing in clothing made of the material, she said.

"It'll be high-hemp fashion, you know," she said. "Real high-fashion stuff."

Hemp also is a slang name for marijuana and hashish.

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