Grandmother and Children Handcuffed, Forced Facedown To The Ground; Children Taken From Parents
Aggressive raids against five collectively run medical marijuana delivery services were staged by a Narcotics Task Force of local and state law enforcement agencies on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday this week in San Luis Obispo County, California.
The raids resulted in at least 13 people being arrested on felony charges, with bails of up to $100,000. Several of those arrested were charged with child endangerment, after Child Protective Services (CPS) removed at least six children from the homes of three different families.
In one report of this week’s raids, the police kept people, including a grandmother and two children, handcuffed facedown on the ground. The children were later hauled off to CPS after their parents were thrown in jail.
One of the people arrested on Monday suffered a heart attack because of the police raid, according to patient advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA), and was taken to a local emergency room before being booked.
In addition to seizing medical marijuana, cash, and other property, police have also frozen some bank accounts, according to ASA.
As of Thursday, at least four people were still in jail, unable to raise bail, ASA said.
|Kris Hermes, ASA: “It’s wasteful to spend taxpayer dollars to aggressively raid state law-compliant collectives”|
”It’s wasteful to spend taxpayer dollars to aggressively raid state law-compliant collectives,” said Kris Hermes, media spokesperson with ASA. “But it’s a greater tragedy that local officials would resort to taking people’s children away because they don’t agree with the state’s medical marijuana law.”
Medical marijuana delivery services have increased to as many as 20, by some estimates, mainly as a result of local law enforcement hostility, including federal raids and prosecutions against storefront dispensary operators. This led to an absence of storefront dispensaries in the county, which in turn gave rise to the delivery services, according to ASA.
Delivery services, as long as they are run in compliance with the 2008 guidelines from the office of California Attorney General Jerry Brown, additionally serve a critical need for patients who cannot travel to get their medicine.
Helpful Remedies, Harmonic Alliance, and Trilogy Holistic Health Services were local collectives raided this week and which operate mainly out of Paso Robles and Pismo Beach. Most of the collectives raided were state-registered nonprofit Mutual Benefit Corporations.
Advocates are vowing to hold a protest at the first set of arraignments scheduled for Tuesday, January 11 at 8 a.m., in San Luis Obispo County Superior Court. A second set of arraignments will be held the following day.
Coordinated police raids on medical marijuana delivery services occurred earlier in the year in the San Jose area, based on an interpretation of state law similarly held by local San Luis Obispo law enforcement agencies — namely, that everyone in a collective must physically participate in the cultivation of plants, and no money can exchange hands in the procurement of medical marijuana.
“Now that we have stopped law enforcement from hiding behind federal law, hostile police agencies are stooping to flawed interpretations of state law and heavy-handed tactics to further undermine the effort of getting medicine to sick people,” Hermes said.
In 2007, a licensed storefront dispensary in Morro Bay by the San Luis Obispo Sheriff and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), abruptly halting safe access to medical marijuana for patients in the county.
The dispensary operator, Charles C. Lynch, was later charged and prosecuted in federal court without a means to defend himself. Lynch was ultimately convicted and sentenced to a year and a day, but is currently appealing his conviction.