Despite the fact that the majority of the public, especially in California, supports medical marijuana and even total legalization, law enforcement agencies in the state are doing whatever they can to crack down on the medical marijuana industry.
According to a recent report from the San Francisco Gate, authorities raided a state licensed medical marijuana dispensary operating in the South Tahoe area. Authorities have released a statement saying that, on June 1, 2015, a joint operation between the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office, El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office, South Lake Tahoe Police Department, California Department of Justice, South Lake El Dorado Narcotics Enforcement Team, the Franchise Tax Board, Board of Equalization, and Employment Development Department carried out the execution of several search warrants against one large dispensary and its owner for alleged tax evasion and alleged illegal possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.
Authorities further say this massive joint task force had been conducting an investigation of the medical marijuana dispensary for several months, and they have only seized evidence of alleged contraband, but did not make any arrests as of this time. The task force spokesperson says, once the evidence collected during the raid has been fully reviewed, they will make decision as to whether they will make any arrests or file any charges.
As our Orange County medical marijuana dispensary attorneys can explain, whether or not they ultimately file charges is not always relevant, as raids like these can destroy a business, even if the criminal investigation is later suspended.
While police made the first “official statement” regarding the raid, many had already taken to Twitter and other forms of social media to broadcast what was occurring. Commenters said they rushed into the business and took documents, cash, cannabis products, computers and virtually anything else they could grab. Many people who witnessed the raid expressed feelings that this is “truly a sad day for the [medical cannabis] industry.” It is also a raid largely not supported by the current attitudes of many state residents who are full support of medical marijuana dispensaries being allowed to operate.
One thing that makes this latest raid different than others in the past is there does not appear to be any federal involvement. There were no reports of Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), or U.S. Treasury agents taking any role in the planning or execution of the raids. The reason this is so different is because it is normally the case that, even though medical cannabis is legal in many parts of California, business owners and patients are living in fear of the federal government enforcing marijuana laws, due to the drug still being listed as Schedule I drug on the United States Controlled Substances Act (USCSA).
Meanwhile, the owner of the raided dispensary says his business was fully compliant with state and local law and denies any wrongdoing or criminal activity. He also opened his business up again the same night as the raids and vows not to let this shut him down, as he works to figure out exactly what happened and what he needs to do to defend what he considers wrongful accusations. It should be noted, this medical cannabis business owner has not been formally charged with any crime and is presumed innocent unless and until he proven guilty of any illegal conduct in a court of law by judge or jury.
The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.
Medical marijuana crackdown continues in California , June 2, 2015, SF Gate
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Lawsuits Seek to Open Doors to Costa Mesa Medical Marijuana Dispensaries, March 23, 2015, California Marijuana Lawyer Blog