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Granny discusses trial for not keeping records on crystal iodine sales



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(CNN) -- Armitta Mae Granicy ("Granny Mim"), 60, her husband, Robert Roy Granicy, 63, and her sisters Dorothy Jean Manning, 67, and Ramona Ann Beck, 62, are scheduled to stand trial for failing to keep records on sales of crystal iodine from their feed store in Lancaster, California. State law requires merchants to log information, including driver's license number and vehicle license tag number, about anyone who buys iodine crystals. Iodine crystals have long been used to treat hoof disease in horses and to purify stored water. More recently, they are used in the production of methamphetamines

The law is intended to combat illegal methamphetamine labs. Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy Tom Holeman told the Los Angeles Times Granicy's Valley Wide Feed Store sold 16,000 ounces of crystal iodine in a 15-month period, or triple the amount typically sold by similar outlets. The trial of the "Lancaster grannies" and one "grandpa" and is schedule to begin Thursday.

Granny Mim joined CNN.com for a Burden of Proof Chat on Monday, September 18. CNN provided a typist for her. The following is an edited transcript of the chat.

CNN Host: Please tell us why you are on trial?

Granny Mim: We're on trial because we failed to take the appropriate information on the sale of iodine crystal.

Question from LJNoel: What is iodine crystal most often used for?

Granny Mim: It's used for water purification and the treatment of animals. They have narrowed in on the treatments of horse's hooves, but it can be used on any hoofed animal. It can also be used as an antibacterial spray.

Question from CharliGirl: How old is the reporting law and did you know about it before these charges were brought against you?

Granny Mim: The law came into effect in January 1999. They came around and told us at the time -- actually, they did not present the law, just a letter from the police department, stating that they wanted us to get this information. I asked at the time for a policeman to be put in the store to get the information.

Question from Sunny1: Why didn't you just say, "We're sorry. We won't do it again." and avoid a trial?

Granny Mim: They did not offer that to us.

Question from MountainMonk: Only one important question: Were you aware that any of your customers were involved in the manufacture of methamphetamine, and sell them the iodine crystals anyway?

Granny Mim: No, we are not aware of that.

Question from sdfasdfasdfasd: They charged you with misdemeanor or felony and what is the penalty if convicted?

Granny Mim: We are charged with a misdemeanor. The penalty is, I believe, a fine, and they keep saying up to a year in jail. I'm not sure exactly what it is.

CNN Host: Please tell us about the arrest

Granny Mim: Oh, yes. I was on the phone to my sister Ramona. We had just lost our mother the year previous with breast cancer, and they had found a lump in my sister Ramona and she'd just heard from the doctor that it could be cancerous. They barged through the door. There were 10 to 15 officers. They had seven or eight cop cars out in the driveway.

They came through with a search warrant, and said, "Where are your guns?" I said to my sister, "I have to go, I don't know what's going on." I said, "What guns?" Officer Holeman was in the lead. He's the one that a few months before, I had said that he wasn't doing his job in stopping the meth labs. If he would stop the meth labs, it would not matter how much iodine was sold. He was in the lead. He went around the desk to my desk, and asked, "If I open this drawer, will there be a gun?" I said, "Not to my knowledge."

He opened the drawer, and of course there was no gun. He wanted to know where my safe was, where the iodine was. It was in the same place where it had been from the beginning. They were to take all the iodine, including the shipping boxes. They wanted all the receipts. First, he wanted my sisters to meet us at the jail. But I knew that wouldn't work for Ramona, who needed to be with us. I asked if they could drive to the store, and go together. My sister Dorothy picked up Ramona and brought her out to the store.

They were not allowing any customers to come to the store. They told them it was a crime scene. They did not allow us to talk to the news media. They told the media that we did not want to talk to them. So, they collected the iodine that we had, took it out front, took pictures of it. They couldn't decide if they would drive us to jail, or if we could drive ourselves. We drove ourselves, and it was less traumatic. We waited in the lobby for them to book us. They took our shoes, our wedding rings, our earrings (my sisters have pierced ears, I don't), my sisters left their wedding rings and purses, but I said that I hadn't had my rings off in 42 years, and wasn't sure if they'd even come off.

They left us barefoot in the jail, in the cells, for four hours. What we sat on was a cement slab, just a straight slab, no padding whatsoever. With the trauma that Moni (Ramona) had been under, it was a very, very severe time. They released us then, and we went home. The next morning when we went to open the store, they had left a full case of iodine crystal. If this was such a major thing, how could they have left any there? The search warrant demanded that they remove everything.

Question from calvis: Granny, when was the first time you discovered that iodine is a main ingredient for meth? And were you ever apprehensive about selling it to some people?

Granny Mim: No, most of our customers are people who have been coming to the store for some time. There were a few new ones toward the end there. The code does not do away with iodine... it exempts liquid iodine, which is crystal. You aren't going to stop the production of meth by stopping crystallized iodine. Now, I didn't know all this before, but I have learned this since.

CNN Host: What has been local reaction to the arrest and trial?

Granny Mim: The local reaction has been almost disbelief. It borders on that. In fact, it's more of "if this can happen to you, what keeps it from happening to me?"

Question from guest: Is this a small town

Granny Mim: It's 100,000 people. I don't know if that's considered small.

Question from The Deathstar: Do you think the drug war is successful based on your experience?

Granny Mim: No, I think they're going after the wrong end. Having been in retail, everything is by supply and demand. Who buys these products? Who buys meth? What kind of people use it? It has to have a market some place. The other thing I don't understand is statistics are based on fact, so if they know there is a meth lab out there, why is it still there?

Question from Susie: How has your life changed since the arrest?

Granny Mim: A lot more people know who I am. Our business has slowed some. They have hooked us to the meth lab so much that people wonder if we're involved with drugs. They have slandered us completely. The headlines the next day said, "Sisters arrested on illegal drug sales"

Question from hamada: What is the situation now?

Granny Mim: We will go to trial on November 1.

Question from LJNoel: Have you considered legal action of your own against the police department?

Granny Mim: After the trial is over. We've considered it.

Question from The Deathstar: How much support do you get from church, community, family, legal counsel?

Granny Mim: Oh, plenty. A lot. In fact, there have probably been only one or two negative responses, and those have not been negative toward us as people, but negative towards drugs. We have a petition on our bar, at our counter -- it's an old saloon bar out of River Street in St. Louis -- we have a petition that over 1000 people have signed.

To show you, we have a customer who probably is in his 80s. He signs it, goes home and calls back and asks if we could take his name off the petition because he doesn't know if they would come after him for having his name on it. We said of course, and scratched through both sides of the paper, so there's no way you could read it.

CNN Host: Do you have any final thoughts to share with us today?

Granny Mim: We are now taking the proper information. We have been, for several months. We don't feel this code should stand. It should be rewritten. There are so many holes in it. You can't stop crystallized iodine with it. You only have to buy the liquid, and make it crystal.

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