It's about 2 o'clock on July 31, a hot and humid Thursday afternoon, and Mike and Scott (who asked to be identified only by their first names) are kicking back in Aloha Community Collective Association. The low-key Santa Ana medical-marijuana dispensary is nestled comfortably in a somewhat-decrepit two-story building just off 17th Street, a couple of blocks from the 5 freeway. Rachel Garcia, a receptionist and budtender, is standing outside the shop. She notices two middle-aged men who look like typical patients approaching the entrance.
Suddenly, several police vehicles and a paddy wagon pull up. Garcia knows in an instant the two men are plainclothes cops. Sure enough, they signal to the arriving convoy by pointing at the dispensary. They command Garcia to go back inside, which she does, immediately informing Mike and Scott that police officers are outside. By the time she starts talking, one of the vehicles is already parked on the dispensary's doorstep, almost blocking the front door.
Illustration: Luke McGarry | Design: Dustin Ames for the OC Weekly.
Mike and Scott have operated Aloha for five years, changing locations annually. They've previously been raided by the feds--the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), to be exact--and have had to contend with frequent code-enforcement checks. But never, they say, did they expect to be raided by the Santa Ana Police Department (SAPD). Yet there they are: Other than the two plainclothes officers and one person in a Los Angeles Police Department uniform, all the officers are carrying badges identifying them as Santa Ana cops.