On Wednesday, January 11 at exactly 4:20pm in the afternoon, three legal medical marijuana dispensaries in the City of San Diego were raided by the cross jurisdictional narcotic task force (NTF) of San Diego County. The locations attacked include; California’s Best Meds on University Ave, Golden West in North Park, and San Diego Organic Wellness Association in Pacific Beach.
Armed with guns, rifles, and battering rams, dozens of masked NTF gunmen rushed into the medical facilities, breaking down doors, windows, and forcing all the patients inside to the floor.
The raids were a coordinated effort between Bonnie Dumanis the San Diego District Attorney and Laura Duffy the US Attorney assigned to this region. San Diego Police Department (SDPD), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department all participated in executing the raids.
This recent eradication effort began on October 7th, when Laura Duffy along with three other US Attorneys announced in Sacramento that they would be targeting and eradicating all access to medical marijuana in the State.
After the press conference in October hundreds of letters were sent to landlords threatening them with asset forfeiture proceedings if they did not immediately evict their dispensary tenants. Many landlords complied and forced dozens of legitimate businesses in the City to shutter their doors, while many decided to stand behind their tenants and fight against this illegal attempt to seize their property.
Prior to the announcement, the public was convinced the Obama Administration would not be using Department of Justice resources to circumvent state law on this issue and an overwhelming majority were pleased to see patients enjoying safe, reliable, and local access to their doctor recommended medicine.
The announcement came as a shock to the entire community and left 500,000+ medical marijuana patients in the state who legally use cannabis to treat serious and in many cases terminal conditions in disarray, in fear of prosecution, and wondering where they will be getting their medicine if their local dispensaries are closed.
At the same time as the Feds were stepping up their attack, the San Diego City Attorney’s Office also join in on the eradication effort by filing over eighty lawsuits against dispensaries in the City. The lawsuits alleged that all facilities in San Diego were illegal because they were operating without a business license. The City’s lawsuits came after all dispensaries in the City applied and were denied a business license as well as due process under the law.
As word of the Wednesday raid spread, the community jumped into action. Within minutes the County wide Americans for Safe Access (ASA) raid alert system was activated and raid response teams dispatched to all three dispensaries.
At California’s Best Meds, activists arrived armed with video cameras, protest signs, and began to document the attack against patients. Media outlets were also notified and quickly arrived at the scene.
At least twenty activists, concerned citizens, and patients stood outside of California’s Best Meds and chanted “DEA Go Away”, as well as shouted through the doors statements for the employees and patients being detained to hear about their rights.
After repeated requests and pleas with the NTF Agents to see their clients, attorneys for the dispensaries were denied access and prevented from going inside the facility to witness the interrogation.
Several hours into the raid patients in tears, one by one, were released from the facilities. Medical records, medicine, computers, and other property was confiscated and packaged by the NTF agents into DEA evidence boxes and hauled off.