Medical marijuana patient advocates protest outside Golden West Collective on Thursday as it is raided by DEA agents and San Diego Police.
Federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents raided three medical marijuana dispensaries in San Diego at exactly 4:20 p.m. on Thursday, acting on a “landlord law” that was put into action after a crackdown announced by the U.S. Attorney’s office last October.
Landlords who rent to dispensaries were warned to evict their tenants are face prosecution and forfeiture of their property, reports Tony Shin at NBC San Diego.
Dozens of heavily armed agents with battering rams raided Golden West Collective on University Avenue in North Park on Wednesday, with the dastardly assistance of the San Diego Police Department and the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, acting contrary to the wishes of voters and in violation of California state law. Masked gunmen swarmed into the medical facilities, forcing ailing patients to the floor and breaking down doors and smashing windows.
Trash bags full of cannabis were carried out of the shop, and at least one person was arrested. Agents also seized computers and confidential medical records.
“This is just the beginning for us, we’re going to be going out and this thing is going to be ongoing for awhile,” DEA Special Agent Amy Roderick bragged.
But patients were upset by the interruption in safe access to the medicine that works best for them.
“We now have to buy our drugs from criminals,” said patient Rich Reil.
Terrie Best, San Diego ASA: “[Dumanis] does this to boost her drug conviction rate and get federal grant money on the backs of sick people”
”Mayor candidate and District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis is behind this,” commented Terrie Best, a San Diego-based medicinal cannabis activist. “She is no supporter of medica marijuana patients no matter how she tries to backpedal now.
“I know of numerous cases currently in court, where Bonnie Dumanis’ office is fighting hard to prevent juries from seeing documentation that would prove the defendants are patients,” Best said. “Dumanis routinely moves to block all evidence of patient status in court in order to paint legitimate patients as drug dealers in front of juries.
“She does this to boost her drug conviction rate and get federal grant money on the backs of sick people,” Best said.
As word of the Wednesday raids spread, the community jumped into action, reports the San Diego Chapter of Americans for Safe Access. Within minutes, the countywide ASA raid alert system was activated and raid response teams fanned out to all three dispensaries.
At California’s Best Meds, activists with video cameras and protest signs began to document the attack against patients. Media outlets were also notified and quickly arrived at the scene.
At least 20 activists, concerned citizens, and patients stood outside California’s Best Meds and chanted “DEA Go Away.” They also shouted encouragement and advice through the doors for the employees and patients being detained, so that they could hear about their rights.
Even after repeated requests and pleas with federal agents to be allowed to see their clients, attorneys for the dispensaries were denied access and prevented from going inside the facility to document and witness the interrogation.
Several hours into the raid, patients — many in tears — were finally released from the facilities, one by one.
The landlord had repeatedly tried to evict the owners of Golden West, but they wouldn’t leave the building, according to the property manager.
It’s unclear if the landlord will face any charges or if his property will be seized.
Two unmarked law enforcement vehicles were vandalized during the raid. Investigators claim they believe protesters are responsible for “keying” the vehicles, according to a sheriff’s deputy. Deputies whined that their vehicles would have to be repainted.