Suspect steeped in pot culture
A former Ashland cafe owner arrested on multiple drug and sex charges involving minors was previously arrested for flying marijuana into Utah, starred in a low-budget movie about a marijuana goddess and was involved in a failed eco-village inspired by Russian New Age books that tout the spiritual and healing properties of trees.
Christopher Ian Iverson, 45, was arrested Friday on 28 counts that included third-degree rape, third-degree sodomy, third-degree sexual abuse, delivery of a controlled substance and endangering the welfare of a minor.
Another person stepped forward over the weekend to provide additional information, Ashland Police Department Deputy Chief Corey Falls said.
Police believe there are more victims. Investigators have no intention of arresting any minors involved, viewing them as victims in the case, according to APD.
In early 2011, the Ashland Police Department began investigating Iverson, owner of the now-closed CultureWorks cafe and music venue in the Oak Street Plaza. Iverson also is a past member of the Ashland Forest Lands Commission.
APD received information that Iverson was allegedly providing marijuana, nitrous oxide and MDMA — an ingredient in the illegal drug Ecstasy — to minors in exchange for sexual activity. He also allegedly provided drugs to minors during events at CultureWorks and at other venues in Oregon, according to APD.
Additionally, APD received information that Iverson was allegedly involved in a sexual relationship with one or more minor females who either worked at or frequented CultureWorks.
A break in the case came when multiple people recently stepped forward to provide information to investigators, Falls said.
A probable-cause affidavit filed in court on Monday stated that Iverson allegedly delivered marijuana to a Medford teenage girl under the age of 18 on Dec. 21, 2013.
The affidavit stated Iverson allegedly engaged in sexual intercourse at least four times and oral sex at least once with the girl between Nov. 1, 2010, and Nov. 1, 2011, when she was under age 16.
During the same time period, he also allegedly engaged in sexual intercourse at least twice with another Medford teen when she was under 18, according to the affidavit.
Iverson allegedly gave both teens MDMA at least twice during that time, the affidavit stated.
MDMA, sometimes called "molly" or Ecstasy, is known as a "club drug" that can make users feel like everyone is their friend, according to www.teens.drugabuse.gov.
Other effects include hyperactivity, an enhanced sense of touch, agitation, sweating, chills, clenched teeth, increased heart rate and blood pressure, seizures, disruption of normal heart rhythms and dehydration.
Sadness, depression, anxiety and memory problems can follow use of the drug, according to the government website.
Iverson had opened CultureWorks in spring 2010, stating at the time that he intended it to be an all-ages event and music venue. The café served organic, vegetarian, vegan and raw foods and included a kids' menu.
In September 2010, Iverson was arrested after he piloted a plane from California to an airport in Tooele County, Utah. Six pounds of marijuana were found on the plane, along with $6,500 in Iverson's pocket, according to Pat Reavy, a police and courts reporter for the Deseret News and KSL.
Department of Homeland Security investigators had been monitoring Iverson and Derek Shields, who was also arrested at the time. Iverson had a California medical marijuana card and a permit to grow in that state, according to Reavy.
Reavy said Iverson pleaded guilty to a drug distribution misdemeanor, was put on 24 months' probation and given a suspended jail sentence, forfeited the money found on the plane and was ordered to pay a hefty fine. Iverson and his partner got the plane back. It was registered to Enlightening Films.
In 2012, Enlightening Films released "The Green Goddess," which was made back in 2003, according to the film company's website.
A film trailer shows Iverson with bleached-blond hair in the movie, which follows the fictional adventures of marijuana growers who raise pot in Europe and are watched over by a goddess who lives inside marijuana.
From 2008 to 2011, Iverson served on the city of Ashland's Forest Lands Commission, where he was mainly involved in promoting citizen awareness about the Ashland watershed.
In 2009, Iverson submitted a proposal to the city of Ashland to use an 846-acre piece of undeveloped city land for an eco-village.
City officials instead chose to let Standing Stone Brewing Co. use the land, known as the Imperatrice property, for a small farm.
In his eco-village proposal, Iverson said the project could generate $10 million to $20 million initially, with annual revenue streams of several million dollars thereafter.
Iverson told city officials he already had experience helping create the Shambhala Eco Settlement 30 miles south of Ashland on the Oregon and California border.
He said founders had sold 2.5 acre plots and envisioned 22 families and individuals moving onto the plots to form the eco-settlement.
Iverson said the eco-village would be modeled after eco-settlements in Russia inspired by "The Ringing Cedars of Russia" books.
The books were written by Russian Vladimir Megre, who claims to have met a psychic woman named Anastasia on the banks of a river in Siberia, along with elders who revealed "amazing properties" of Siberian cedar, also known as Siberian pine.
In addition to selling books worldwide, Megre sells cedar nut oil, cedar amulets, cedar comforters and pillows, cedar nut oil toothpaste, cedar essential oil and posters.
He claims on his website that the cedar nut flakes, for example, are recommended for tuberculosis, kidney disease, pulmonary disease and a host of other ailments.
Local counselor and therapist Rolando Poe, who was involved in the Shambhala Eco Settlement, said the project experienced a period of growth, followed by tumult, bickering and entropy.
No one is living there, Poe said.
He said the concept is still alive, but is in a period of quiet gestation.
"It was a grand vision to create a place of love, but the grand illusion of money got in the way," Poe said.
Poe said the land has gone back into a trust for the project's investors.
The eco settlement project had a variety of names, including Shambhala Communities, the Anastasia Kin's Domain Eco-Settlement Project and Shambhala-Shasta Community.
The project's goal was to re-create paradise on Earth, reclaim humanity's pristine origins and allow participants to engage in activities ranging from organic farming to tree-climbing, according to information organizers posted on the Internet.
Roland said Iverson left the project by early 2009.
Roland said he can't speculate about Iverson's recent arrest on sex and drug charges.
Ashland police are asking anyone who worked at CultureWorks or who has knowledge of Iverson's alleged criminal activities to contact Detective Carrie Hull at 541-552-2126.
Reach Ashland Daily Tidings reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-479-8199 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her at twitter.com/VickieAldous.