Saturday, September 23, 2023

Fort Bragg Woman Accused of Dealing Psychedelics Maintains the Criminal Case Against Her Is ‘Full of Lies and Inaccuracies’

Psilocybe cubensis (aka magic mushrooms) [Photo from Flickr user Dr. Brainfish]

According to investigators from the Mendocino County Major Crimes Task Force, 51-year-old Fort Bragg woman Heather Baird possessed commercial quantities of psychedelic mushrooms and LSD. Investigators claim she sold psychedelics over the internet amassing considerable wealth.

After law enforcement raided her home, took custody of her son, and put her in solitary confinement for five days, she now faces two felony drug charges and a misdemeanor for child endangerment. 

Baird came forward to tell her side of the story. According to Baird, law enforcement’s version of events is “full of lies and inaccuracies” resulting in a waste of “thousands and thousands in taxpayer dollars so far, and they won’t get anything from me.”

But, Baird says the case law enforcement presents is inflated, distorted, and motivated by their preconceived notion that she is some sort of a heavy-hitting hallucinogen dealer. “They tried to make me sound like I’m a high roller and it couldn’t be farther from the truth.”

Baird’s criminal case coincides with California legislators considering Senate Bill 58. If passed, Californians could possess, prepare, transport, and use specified amounts of psilocybin, psilocyn, dimethyltryptamine (DMT), ibogaine, and mescaline. This means Baird is being charged with possessing a drug that could potentially be decriminalized in the foreseeable future.

Baird argued law enforcement’s view of her as a drug dealer did not comport with the extensive community service she has provided to the  Mendocino Coast community. For seven years, she ran a non-profit focused on children of the Mendocino County Coast. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she spearheaded a thrift store for those in need during the trying economic times of lockdown. In 2017, she received a Mayoral Commendation from Fort Bragg Mayor Lindy Peters for volunteering to work in Paradise, California after the tragic fire. Baird provided documentation of her community service in the form of pictures of print periodicals that wrote of her contributions. 

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She disclosed to us that psychedelics, microdosing, and mental health are passions of hers. Baird would not speak to whether she actually provided these substances to interested parties, but she told us she is an advocate of psychedelic therapy.

She described microdosing psychedelics as “medicine” necessary for a community that “doesn’t take care of mental health.” Hallucinogens are “being decriminalized all around us. All one needs to do is take a drive to Oakland and you can buy all the stuff I had, right on the street or at their weekly psychedelic market.” 

Oakland decriminalized multiple psychedelics in 2019 and as recently as August 2022 mushroom laced candy bars could be bought over the counter.

Baird was told by police a tip had prompted the task force’s investigation. She believes that tip came from an ex-employee who had suffered from psychiatric episodes. Baird and the ex-employee split ways in early February.

Heather Baird [Picture provided by her]

Court documents say investigators initiated contact with their target on February 20, 2023, when an undercover officer met with Baird and purchased LSD and psilocybin-infused edibles from her.

Baird confirmed she was contacted by someone she did not know but would not disclose the nature of their interaction.

Investigators assert Baird was in possession of “commercial quantities” of narcotics including psychedelic mushrooms, LSD, and cannabis. However, Baird asserts she had relatively small amounts.

Baird told us on February 22, 2023, 10-15 squad cars surrounded her residence around 10:30 a.m. while her son was sleeping peacefully. 15-20 officers raided her apartment. They “ripped my place apart and found almost nothing,” she asserted. She told us the alleged “commercial quantities” of mushrooms were less than a pound. 

When law enforcement utilizes language like “commercial quantities” of drugs, some jurisdictions have established agreed-upon amounts that qualify as “commercial.” Other jurisdictions characterize any quantity of drugs being actively sold in an act of commerce as “commercial”.

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Baird insists the approximate pound of mushrooms law enforcement discovered does not qualify as “commercial quantities”. Most microdosing protocols encourage users to consume .1 grams. A pound is 458 grams. This means a single pound of psychedelic mushrooms could provide 4,580 microdoses.

Other than the mushrooms, Baird said law enforcement confiscated a small amount of “microcapsules, micro chocolates, and candy bars”–an amount that she claimed did not suggest bulk sales or an extensive operation. 

Officers located a stash of mushrooms in a back storage closet, Baird said, which law enforcement and Child Protective Services claimed was “within reach” of her 12-year-old son. This gave the state grounds to take custody of the child. Over two weeks have gone by since the raid and her son remains in a foster home. 

During the raid, Baird said she got the distinct impression the police were searching for cash. Instead of a huge haul, officers found $1,600 at her home and seized $8,000 from her bank accounts. Baid said that one of the officers told her that if “I ‘found’ my money, they would leave my son.”

Court documents suggest law enforcement believed Baird had enriched herself by selling hallucinogens. The prosecution demanded any money she put up for bail was put through a “bail source review” to verify the cash was not a product of illegal activity. 

An investigator with Major Crimes wrote in the request that Baird was unemployed and lived lavishly paying $5,000 for rent on two properties and recently purchasing a new Toyota Tacoma indicating she was “living well above her financial means.”

According to Baird, this investigator was totally incorrect. She told us she is a taxpayer having worked independently since 2016 running a non-profit and working as an event organizer. Her apartment is $2,000/month. She also manages a Simpson Lane property with four tenants. Regarding the truck, Baird sold a car she owned outright to purchase a new vehicle and now makes monthly payments. 

The investigator told the judge that Baird expressed to investigators she would spend “millions of dollars to make bail” leading authorities to conclude that she would use her piles of cash earned from her psychedelic business to make bail. 

Baird said her comment about millions of dollars was a “joke” and a reference “to getting my son who I would go to the ends of the earth for. It would be clear to any intelligent human that I didn’t have millions since I’m living in a garage apartment.”

During the raid, the police “leveled” her cannabis grow to confiscate all her plants including the trim. “I was under the limit for a medical grow”, Baird said. “I just didn’t have the medical grow card which can be obtained online.” With her cannabis garden ripped out of the ground, Baird says she has a hard time making sense of how countless grows throughout Mendocino County up to 10,000 square feet in size could avoid the ire of law enforcement yet her small garden was destroyed.

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Investigators confiscated all of her electronic devices during the raid. Baird told us officers deleted all of her photographs off her phone. Baird claims that at one point, an officer told Baird if she gave him her phone’s passcode, he would personally call some of her friends to pick up her son. She obliged and was shocked when he instead allegedly called CPS.

According to Baird, law enforcement sought large sums of cash typical of drug sales. Finding themselves empty-handed, Baird said authorities took the only thing important to her, “my son.”

Since her arrest,  Baird has only seen her 12-year-old boy three times. She said CPS has him living in a foster home. Separated from his mother, Baird said her son is suffering, sad, and scared. 

Assertions by the prosecution that her boy was in danger are untrue, Baird said. “He was not in danger or living in a trap house. He is 12, plays Minecraft, and builds rockets. He’s a boy who needs to be with his mother.”

[Stock image by Matt LaFever]

After the raid, Baird was booked into the Mendocino County jail. For five nights, she was in solitary confinement due to COVID-19 quarantine protocols. She says she was given a single blanket and shivered constantly. She makes the following claims which have not been substantiated. She says that the facility’s heater is centered in the common area, which she said was too far away from her quarantine cell to heat it. In addition, she says that no one brought her toiletries and she could not make purchases at the commissary.  She reports that she lost ten pounds in five days.

Despite the prosecution’s insistence a bail review be conducted, she was finally released without paying any bail.

As a result of her arrest, Baird must leave the apartment she shared with her son, a hound dog, three cats, fish tanks, and a bearded dragon. Baird has been evicted from her apartment and is looking for a new place to call home. 

Despite law enforcement’s belief she was selling psychedelics, Baird spoke confidently that the community knows her good works and is making efforts to help. “I have gone above and beyond hundreds of times at all hours of the day and night for people for over a decade.  I have to say I knew that I’d have support from the community, and I hope this is a catalyst for change.”

Community members have initiated a letter-writing campaign to Mendocino County District Attorney Dave Eyster imploring him to drop the charges. On April 6, 2023, several local bands are playing a concert to raise funds for her legal fees. The community’s support gives Baird hope that “cops are the minority here in this county where people believe in plant medicine.”

Tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. Heather Baird will return to Fort Bragg’s Ten Mile Court presided by Judge Clay Brennan. Prosecutors will negotiate with her defense attorney, a common process before the preliminary hearing. 

Talking to her, she gives off an air that these negotiations are inconsequential. Instead, she is cautiously optimistic after being told that there is a chance her son could be coming home tomorrow.

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    • Cops will be cops and will always pursue “criminals” that they can be sure won’t shoot at them.
      Why don’t these cops bust the distributors of meth, fentanyl, and opioids–the drugs that are laying waste to America. Those people AREN’T the ones to do good works to benefit the community. They are the ones wrecking havoc.
      I’ve never once, in my long life, heard of anyone “on” hallucinogens murder, rape, thieve, or create destruction.

  1. When cops, the DA & a judge get it wrong, that is when shit gets bad for their victims. Because they will make your life hell for their egregious errors. She did break the law, allegedly, but these pigs were after notches on the belt & assets to confiscate for their department. Gotta have more tactical vests that hold more useless shit to look intimidating! That kid should have been taken to family or friends if possible!! Not sent to strangers.

    This county was built by, has been saved by & thrived on by the counter culture. Right, wrong or indifferent, that’s the fuckin truth! & most of the people are contributing, caring members of our community! This woman seems to be. You punish her child for her alleged crime, but mostly, for your complete incompetence & frustration?

    A family has been separated. Traumatic experiences have been levied on them. They’ve been completely uprooted & lost everything. AND SHE HASN’T EVEN BEEN CONVICTED OF A FUCKING CRIME YET?!!! I thought it was innocent till proven guilty & punishments were handed out after a guilty plea or conviction. Way to go mendo law & order! You fuckin suck yet again!

  2. You break the law you risk it all including custody of your kids.. she acts li,like, her breaking the law is okay. It’s not, doesn’t matter if it will be legal tommorow….you wait till tommorow…. you get a license like everyone else….
    She’s not exceptional nor special nor is she exempt from following laws.
    She k ew consequences and chose to still do what she did. No one’s fault but her own

    • True, but a child shouldn’t pay for the alleged crimes of the parent. & lives shouldn’t be destroyed BEFORE due process! A persons character should also be a factor in the process. The bruising of egos isn’t a crime anyone should pay a price for!

    • But, modern day circumstances in our country tell us that it’s OK to break the law, even if you know, if you are powerful and well connected.
      This is Mendo County and a training ground for cops that will go on and terrorize the public in the future. To whit, cops that rape women.
      That local cop that had at least two victims and got off with a “wrist slap”– hardly a deterrent for that crime. He probably thinks the woman enjoyed it.
      And, I recall, the woman who was head of the Ukiah Valley Fire District who was busted for transporting weed, but just moved away, with no consequences. She knew the law and broke it, yet, because of who she knew, received no punishment.
      Back the badge and you get a mixed bag, but “power and control” are always part of the mix.

  3. Heather is a loving mother and an empathetic and caring member of the community. I am shocked and saddened to learn that she is being harrassed by law enforcement. Taking her son away is far more damaging to him than anything that would happen to him in her care. I met Heather through a Facebook group and have since looked up to her as the epitome of what a “good person” should strive to be.

  4. Sounds like over kill and frustrated cops that couldn’t find what they really came for. Make her story known to all while the DA still holds on to the former Ex Chief of Ukiah Police’s case of sexual misconduct. That case was from June and has yet to go anywhere but silent.

  5. That’s cool, just let rapist cops loose to attend their kids sporting events, and lock up civil serving moms who dispense shrooms to other stressed out moms. Who was society’s safety net during school lockdowns? Stay at home moms. They’re still recovering and many are still not the same, there was no help for them.There was no clapping for them in the streets. As usual women were just left to clean up the mess. Mom’s everywhere are doing mushrooms to digest their stress, so they can keep giving. This is a woman’s rights issue.

  6. I saddens me to see that the authorities are going after good people like Heather while ignoring the drug dealers in Ukiah that are profiting from the “homeless” people’s misery and hard drug addiction. Just take a look at the Walmart parking lot if you don’t know what I’m talking about.

  7. CPS places child in foster care? Why not place him with his father who lives in the community? LEOs seem upset that didn’t find a big pile of cash…$1600 on premises then seized $8000 from bank account?

  8. I’m reading a lot of emotional bullshit here. This woman’s troubles are all of her own making. Her version of the event makes me wonder how many “micro doses” a day she was consuming, because her own story doesn’t necessarily put her under a good light. I’m curious if she did have LSD, whether real or fake, in addition to the mushrooms. If it’s real she’s probably off to the slammer.

    It sounds like the boy wasn’t being raised right if he’s sleeping at 1030am on a Wednesday morning when most kids are in school. What’s the deal with that?

    • Your going to judge a mother because her son was asleep at 10:30 am when there was no school? I can tel you you have a pre conception about what someone who grows mushrooms is like. My Dad had the same thoughts on cannabis, taught to him by the disinformation campaign the government implemented his whole life. Until Cannabis cured his lung cancer. Then he admitted he was wrong, and actually felt like a hypocrite for using a plant to save his life. I told him he is not a hypocrite, he is just thankfully young enough to learn something new.

  9. If you can’t do the time don’t do the crime.
    And selling on the internet?
    Slightly Stoopid
    and you have kids
    Really stupid
    Foster homes are like warehouses, poor kids.

  10. A lot of people making judgements about this case without knowing any facts. They are opinions from a news article. There was a character assassination about a parent, a judgement of women another judgement about drug sales and on and on! The only judgement that should be made is the one that’s given when this case is concluded. Nuff said…

    • Yah yah becus you can count on justice being diligently sought out and served in mendo our cops DA and judges are notorious for getting right to work on fairness and justice. If you believe that i have a bridge to sell you

    • So weird cuz the rapist meth head cop from Ukiah was at my son’s ball game, just out free to watch his kid play. If only he’d chosen to microdose with a healer instead of dealing with his ptsd through womanizing and hard drugs. Why not? Show me a meth head, or hell, an alcoholic, next to a microdosing soccer mom and see the difference. Should we arrest everyone on lexapro- an anti anxiety med which is basically low dose slow release ecstacy? Prisons would be full of..minivan MOMS! Stressed out moms make for fucked up kids. This is a woman’s rights issue.

  11. I am a mom. And I have microdosed.
    My children are beautifully taken care of. I had an adverse childhood, and became suicidal. Microdosing allowed me to accept truth, digest it and move on. I was not hallucinating or seeing pink elephants. But I did see beauty in my word again, and I did finally seek counseling instead of handling it myself. If someone came for my kids because of it, I would pull a million dollars out of my ass to get them back too. There are alcoholics out there driving around blacked out with kids in the back, (My childhood!) and alcohol is completely legal, served at any event, store or restaurant. What gives?

  12. I learned to do drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes AT HOME. What can I say, thanks mom & dad for kick starting me into addiction? When I was 12 I was full on experimenting with drugs. I wish I had never learned these things at home. It caused a lifetime of pain and addiction.

    Thank God Jesus Christ set me free. He is The Deliverer and a good good Father.

  13. I have known Heather for more than a decade. She is already to help anyone in need, especially young women and poor families living on the edge, a group often overlooked by others. She was starting groups for single moms and finding ways to help them back when she was pregnant with her son, before she had two nickels to rub together. She is a very giving person and very enthusiastic and open about the benefits of cannabis and mushrooms. This woman loves her son more than life itself, we all know that. I have never known her to promote any of the awful drugs. The worst drug? Alcohol, by FAR, wreaks more damage, child abuse, ill health than even monstrosities like meth and fetnanyl. I am amazed that people posting here jump to conclusions and even crazier are those who seem to think we live in a fair, equitable system that makes sense. Our mental health system here on the Coast offers no place to go except into 5150 detention! Mushrooms can help, read books about it by a leading Coast author, Dr. Richard Miller. But big pharma doesn’t like weed and mushrooms because they can’t profit much off something people can grow themselves.

  14. I can’t believe that this outrageous and wrong in so many ways charges and raid have occurred. I have to get more active in this community and this is just the thing to get me started. I can’t believe that the sheriff’s department was dumb enough to follow thru with this outrageous and obviously ignorant raid. Do they do any research besides 1 under cover and then boom raid. I am shocked beyond belief that and some private investigators statement of lavish life. There definitely needs serious attention to the heads of the sheriff department if they were this ignorant. They got a mother evicted and put her son who has family and grandparents came immediately here in foster care. Do you people not see how wrong this was? I am going to organize a meeting as this is a town that has gone to hell. Cps is not the God of the world all knowing that the judge should just listen to. They are a bunch of ex addicts or mentally challenged and they were not able to get a real job. They will hire anybody it is not something that needs to be fixed it needs to be completely removed and a new more proper and reasonable system. This has gone way to far and needs to be stopped. I am shocked that the sheriff with all the fentanyal, meth, heroin and pills I can’t imagine how many are not interested in finding out who is dealing these very severe problems. I have not heard of any busts except for someone who ran 2 stop signs and got pulled over. This makes our whole county look like idiots! Where are the investigations into the actual criminals who are dealing serious drugs. They should have to pay Heather for the marijuana that they destroyed and get her a new place and return her son immediately after there beyond stupid arrest of a pillar of our community. For any of guys to say that she deserves anything like this you need mental help. What if something like this happened to you and you were not a great woman who has support from the community because of all the great things she has done and for being the great person she is. I would like to get together for a meeting to get this resolved asap. Her son being kept by cps with family and friends right here how would you feel if this happened to you. I don’t want to hear any goody two shoes if she wasn’t doing this or that bs. I was framed by my grandmother and went to jail so you can be innocent and so could she or you if it happened to you how would you feel. I know that we are a tight knit town and I want to get a committee together to straighten out some of the outrageous and ignorant things that are happening in our County. Who is with me please comment your name and I will message you personally. We cannot let these unjustly events happen anymore it has to be stopped immediately. No more misuse of power. There cannot be any person who can take children without others can evaluate the situation and who speak with relatives and if needed have them stay with the relatives. This is going to be a great big problem for decades to come. So many people have ptsd from their experience with cps and their children too. I think we are going to have to make an entirely new system with actual qualified employees and I think that you should be fired immediately if you are the head of the sheriff department immediately for following thru with this outrageous situation without actually being informed. You literally have to have your head under a rock if you are interested in wasting time and money on a mother and son who were living a life and destroy that because of being ill informed. I know that I am pretty upset about this whole situation! Judge, sheriff and cps have made our County look like idiots and I have been awaken. I will be doing everything in my power to help Heather and then in having consequences for obvious mistakes made. An honorable man would step down from office after making such a mistake that he couldn’t sleep at night. I have been inspired to make some serious changes in our system. I will need help but once I set my mind to something I am not going to quit until I have done everything I can to make changes locally and hopefully across the nation. I know that we can all agree that our cps system is in need of a complete rebuild might be better to scrap it entirely and start from scratch. We need to get back to innocent until proven guilty and we lost touch with that a very long time ago. It is a system of money now so is it fair that if you are wealthy you can bail out get a lawyer and get it dropped or probation but if you are poor/middle class you are stuck in jail and speedy trail lol you can be there longer than you would have to serve for a crime going to court. You may get asked to plead guilty and have more than enough time served that you will get out immediately if you plead guilty. It’s all about money and that is a predjudisum that affects all people. Innocent until proven guilty remember that is how it is supposed to be.

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Matt LaFever
Matt LaFeverhttps://mendofever.com/
I like to think of myself as a reporter for the Average Joe. Journalism has become a craft defined largely by city dwellers on America's coasts. It’s time to take it back. I have been an Emerald Triangle resident since 2006 and this is year ten in Mendocino County. Please, email me at matthewplafever@gmail.com if you know a story that needs to be told.

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