The Orange County Sheriff’s Department has announced it considers all sales of marijuana to be illegal — whether they are for profit or not, and whether they are for medical use or not, despite the fact that medicinal cannabis has been legal in California for 15 years.
In response to questions regarding a search warrant served on half-a-dozen collectives and more than a dozen other locations and persons on November 8, Sheriff’s Lt. David Doyle told Greggory Moore at the Long Beach Post that “the CUA and MMPA do not authorize sales of marijuana,” and therefore all cash-for-cannabis transactions are illegal.
The hardline position — at variance with both the California Attorney General’s guidelines (issued by then-AG Jerry Brown, now Governor) and with prevailing interpretations of the state’s medical marijuana law — appears to represent a new escalation in the medical marijuana battle in conservative Orange County, just south of Los Angeles.
Doyle provided details on the November 8 raids, reporting that a total of about $492,000 was stolen, I mean “seized,” in the various searches. No cash was seized from Belmont Shore Natural Center in Long Beach, but the collective’s entire cannabis inventory, along with a variety of bookkeeping paperwork was seized, along with a computer possibly containing confidential medical information on patients.
While no arrests have yet been made as a result of the “smash and grab” raids, the investigation centering around John Walker, whom the Sheriff’s Department claims is “a silent partner that heads … [a]criminal organization conspiring to illegally sell marijuana at several storefronts,” is ongoing.
In August 2008, then-Attorney General Jerry Brown released a set of guidelines based on his interpretation of the Compassionate Use Act (CUA) and the Medical Marijuana Program Act (MMPA), the legal foundations for California’s medical marijuana policies.
Brown says in those guidelines that “a property organized and operated collective or cooperative that dispenses medical marijuana through a storefront may be lawful under California law,” and that such dispensaries can include marijuana being “[a]llocated based on fees that are reasonably calculated to cover overhead costs and operating expenses.”
The Orange County Sheriff’s Department, meanwhile, claims that the collectives named in their warrant were selling pot for profit, and also (neener neener), even if they weren’t, they still broke the law.