UNDER FIRE: More raids on collectives. Still feel safe?

Some cannot see the writing on the wall. As eleven more people were booked into the system for providing cannabis medicines, we continue to see complacency in the movement and calls for more of the same. Really? It amazes me that many patients, operators, and producers of cannabis medicines still think that somehow the current gray area phenomena will last forever. But what we see is the beginning of the end, as municipalities are also using the gray area to prosecute providers, kick in doors, and create chaos in the community. Welcome to your new life of raid first, and let the courts sort it out. Just ask Jovan Jackson how that works out…

First they came for San Diego, but we did not speak up because we were not from San Diego.

Then they came for LA and we did not speak up because we were not from LA.

Then they came for San Jose but we did not speak up because we were not from San Jose.

Then they came for OUR GARDEN, and by that time there was no one left to speak up.

We should all think very clearly about what is happening everywhere to understand what could happen anywhere. It is a dangerous proposition to continue down the path of uncertainty and darkness. There is a high-water level for everything and medical cannabis is no different. There is a backlash brewing and unless we can advance the cause and pass Prop 19 to define more clearly the difference between medical and adult use, we are destined to see this trend continue. These are some headlines from the past month or less…

Raided medical marijuana dispensaries targeted due to alleged profits

By Brian Day, Staff Writer

A group of five medical marijuana dispensaries, including one in Covina, raided by authorities Wednesday were targeted because the operators were allegedly turning a profit from the establishments in violation of state medical marijuana laws.

CW: One begs to understand what consists of turning a profit? Is any money a profit as some law enforcement put forth? Or is an organization allowed to have resources, as long as one person does not realize the dividends? This is the unclear area of the current laws that should have all providers worried…

Eleven people were arrested in connection with the operation, which took place Wednesday morning in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Diego counties.

The Alternative Medicine Collective of Covina, 20050 E. Arrow Highway, Suite B, was forced to close its doors after a multi-agency task force seized its products, along with four other dispensaries in the four-county operation, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said. No one at the Covina dispensary was arrested.

Under California’s Proposition 215, also known as the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, medical marijuana dispensaries are only allowed to operate as non-profits, Capt. Ralph Ornelas of the Sheriff’s Narcotics Bureau said.

Are law enforcement prepared and trained to identify what is and what is not non-profit? Are they accountants too?

“This organization was definitely working outside the law,” he said.

“Our investigation proved they were charging people and making a profit out of it,” Ornelas said. “You’re not supposed to make a profit.”

CW: This is where every patient, provider and producer should be worried. Since the current laws are vague, law enforcement is left to decide whether or not YOU are making a profit. What does a profit look like? Apparently it looks like cash….

Authorities also searched an Alhambra home in the 1600 block of Curtis Avenue, though no evidence was seized, the captain said.

Erik Andresen, 35, of Seal Beach was arrested as the “primary suspect” in the case against the five dispensaries, Ornelas said.

He was booked on suspicion of cultivation of marijuana and another marijuana-related offense at the sheriff’s Norwalk Station, according to a jailer. He was released Thursday after posting $100,000 bail.

CW: Hmmm…that seems like normal charges. Not operating as a for-profit charges. Or some other civil infraction that most businesses would endure for accounting issues…

Andresen said he serves as an advisor for the organization of patients involved and denied any wrongdoing.

“We are a group of patients who are together, collectively, to provide medicine for sick people,” he said.

Andresen said the dispensaries did not make a profit.

“You’re allowed to be reimbursed for your time,” he said. He declined to say how much money he has received in compensation, but described it as “piddly.”

CW: Are you? Who said? Sure the Peron case gives that impression, but it does not define what is “reasonable” thus leaving a lot of discretion to law enforcement. And as we saw in the Jovan Jackson case, if your judge believes in the “only a community garden” theory then you are screwed, unless your reimbursement comes under the narrowest interpretation of the current laws…

“I don’t own a home,” he said.

Andresen added that the collectives generally give excess marijuana free of charge to their sickest patients.

“We don’t turn a profit because be give away any extra proceeds,” he said.

CW: So here begs the question. If you give away any extra proceeds, but just have not gotten around to giving them away yet, when can YOU be charged with maintaining a profit? See the conundrum in the current system?

The names of the other 10 people arrested on drug related charges were not available Thursday, Ornelas said.

In all, the multi-agency task force searched five marijuana dispensaries, one cultivation site, two processing sites, seven homes and a sailboat, sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.

Ornelas said they were located in Covina, Alhambra, Long Beach, Seal Beach, Huntington Beach, Fullerton, Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside and Palm Springs, Ornelas said.

In addition to the Covina establishment, the medical marijuana dispensaries raided Wednesday included the Palm Springs Holistic Collective, the Riverside Compassionate Wellness Center, the San Diego Holistic Collective, and the Compassionate Medical Collective in San Diego, Ornelas said.

Andresen said that as far as he knows, only one dispensary in San Diego is affiliated with his patient group.

Officials seized 35 marijuana plants, valued at $70,000; 78 pounds of processed pot, valued at $234,000; seven gallons of concentrated cannabis oils, valued at $44,800; about 4,000 pre-packaged, marijuana-laced edible products; hydroponic growing equipment and chemicals; and about $20,000 in cash, according to the sheriff’s statement.

CW: I just want to point out that chances are they have no idea of the value of oil….

The edible products included, “Lolly pops, ice pops, candy bars, brownies – all that stuff,” Ornelas said.

CW: Here we go again….

He said sheriff’s narcotics officials are looking into requesting agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration get involved.

CW: The FDA came to the raid of Tainted Inc. Our game was too tight for them to have any issues, as our facilities were immaculate and our operations were above and beyond the call of duty. But you will never read that in the paper, now will you? I hope these producers did their due diligence in preparing these ingestible meds…

Andresen said he would have no problem cooperating with health regulations governing edible marijuana products.

CW: Would not or did not?

Source: http://www.sgvtribune.com/news/ci_16281596

So the real question to ask yourself is how long do we want to keep up the charade and hope that SB420 will hold up in OUR court of law. It would make more sense for the community to pass Prop. 19 and work to set up a system that actually allows for and regulates cannabis sales and distribution. Anything less is just irresponsible. We are seeing more frequent attacks based on the gray area of the laws that govern our community. We will continue to see more. And as these agencies find success their attacks will become more frequent and more invasive. Do not let the complacency of the situation fool you. Access is under attack and YOU could be next. Those who want to “Keep Marijuana Medical” have obviously drank the kool-aid of complacency and are foolish enough to believe their good time will last forever. But the noose is tightening on medical use and there is a real backlash happening. What you will see is less people being able to access cannabis and chances are a fed up Legislature will repeal or amend SB420 to close the loopholes that allow people to operate. Is this what you envisioned? More people being raided, arrested, and prosecuted for cannabis or less? Pass Prop 19 for less. Do nothing and hope for the best if you want more people to be UNDER FIRE. We cannot afford to stand still on this…

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