|In happier days: The bud room at Long Beach’s NatureCann|
Plainclothes officers not providing identification as members of the Long Beach Police Department, along with Long Beach Department of Finance employees, initiated what attorney Matthew Pappas called an “illegal raid” against NatureCann Non-Profit Patient Group last week.
On March 21 at 4:41 p.m., acting without a warrant or a court order, the officers forcefully broke into the collective where three patient volunteers were assisting fellow patients. An observer recording the raid outside of the collective was knocked down by an officer, who told him the police “can do whatever they want.”
Scores of businesses along the Atlantic Avenue Corridor were disrupted by the heavily armed police presence and activity.
|Scores of businesses along the Atlantic Avenue Corridor in Long Beach were disrupted by the heavily armed police presence and activity|
Although no warrant was obtained by the Long Beach Police Department and no resistance was offered by NatureCann, specialized assault equipment and armed tactics were used to force entry into the property. In an attempt to avoid being filmed and prior to making entry, an electronic video surveillance system designed to assist law enforcement was instead destroyed and disabled by the officers.
Three volunteers were abducted by the officers onsite, while other officers arrested the collective’s security guard at a nearby restaurant where he was on break.
“I was in fear for my life, looking at the end of a loaded firearm pointed at my head, by an unidentified intruder twice my size,” said a female NatureCann patient volunteer who declined to be named for fear of reprisal. “They broke in and started attacking us.
|Guns were stuck into the faces of NatureCann patient volunteers in this waiting room by plainclothes policemen who offered no identification|
”We follow all state laws and provide for seriously ill patients,” she said.
It was later determined that the volunteers had been arrested under a city ordinance recently rendered invalid by a higher court.
The Long Beach City Council in February had enacted a ban of all medicinal cannabis patient dispensaries after its permitting ordinance requiring “substantial” and nonrefundable fees was deemed unconstitutional by a California appellate court.
Although the ban states it applies to all medical marijuana dispensaries in the city, dispensaries that had paid the substantial fee are not being targeted by authorities. The city announced it would enforce the ban only against patient groups that had not paid the fees.
Days after Long Beach passed its ordinance banning all collectives, another California appellate court deemed similar bans illegal.
A Los Angeles Superior Court judge in June 2011 found that an earlier warrantless raid by Long Beach officers and officials was improper. Patients involved in that case have filed a suit against the city seeking damages.
In addition to being arrested, the volunteer said the police took all of the patient group’s medication as well as electronic equipment without inventorying or reporting the seizures.