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BAIL RISES FOR MAN HELD IN POT BUST; PROSECUTORS ARGUE SUSPECT MAY FLEE.

Byline: Lee Condon Daily News Staff Writer

Bail was increased to $500,000 on Friday for Todd McCormick, the Bel-Air man whose arrest for the cultivation of 4,116 marijuana plants could test the state's new marijuana-as-medicine law.

Among those identified in court as potential donors to McCormick's bail fund was actor Brett Harrelson, whose brother Woody Harrelson has publicly fought the outlawing of hemp cultivation.

``Todd has a lot of friends,'' said Richard Cowan, a friend of McCormick.

U.S. District Court Judge Terry J. Hatter rejected a request by prosecutors to hold McCormick at the Metropolitan Detention Center without bail, but agreed that $100,000 set earlier was too low.

McCormick's attorney said the 27-year-old will have difficulty raising the $500,000 bail.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Spertus had argued that McCormick has access to money needed to flee the country, has connections to people in the Netherlands, where he recently lived, and has not turned over his passport because it is missing.

``He could flee to the Netherlands and become a martyr for the cause of the legalization of marijuana,'' Spertus said.

McCormick, a longtime advocate for the therapeutic use of marijuana, was arrested Wednesday after authorities found 4,116 plants growing in the Bel-Air mansion he was renting less than a mile from former President Reagan's estate.

His attorney, Alan Isaacman, said McCormick has used the drug since boyhood to cope with the pain from cancer. Sheriff's deputies estimate each of the 4,116 plants is worth $5,000, for a total street value of $22 million.

Isaacman told the judge that McCormick was growing the plants because he was experimenting with various strains of the plant to determine which would be the most effective for medical users.

``There's no indication that they were being sold to anyone in the community,'' Isaacman said.

Isaacman said his client likely would have made the $100,000 bail with help from a friend, Peter McWilliams, who would have had to put up his house collateral. However, he was not certain if McCormick's friends can raise enough for the $500,000 bail, meaning his client may have to stay in jail at least until an Aug. 13 preliminary hearing.

Hatter revealed during the hearing that one of three people who indicated they may post bail for McCormick was Brett Harrelson. Harrelson and his brother, Woody, recently appeared in the film ``The People vs. Larry Flynt.''

Isaacman gained notoriety as Flynt's longtime lawyer in a variety of pornography cases involving Hustler magazine. Isaacman was portrayed in the movie by actor Edward Norton.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Aug 2, 1997
Words:432
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