Med Pot Dispensaries Raided, Arrests Made
by Angelica Martinez (06 Jul, 2006)
Five people were arrested and 13 marijuana dispensaries were raided Thursday in an investigation into what authorities say was the manufacture and distribution of the drug under the guise of medicinal purposes. Federal officials unsealed two indictments Thursday morning after conducting undercover investigations at businesses suspected of illegally dispensing the drug, officials said.
The first indictment states that the operator of “The Purple Bud Room” on Garnet Avenue and of “Tender Holistics Care” or “THC,” illegally distributed marijuana. The second indictment mentions five individuals who owned and operated “Co-Op San Diego” and distributed marijuana and marijuana plants. The individuals are also suspected of growing marijuana plants at various homes in San Diego to support their operations.
Four doctors are also being investigated on suspicion of selling medical marijuana recommendations for people who officials said did not legitimately need the drug. Federal and state officials have reported the doctors to the state Medical Board in a complaint letter. The board is responsible for taking action against the doctors and is investigating their conduct, officials said.
At least five individuals suspected of selling the drug were arrested Thursday, and more arrests are expected, said Damon Musler, chief of the District Attorney's Office Narcotics Division.
Officials said patients involved in the sales will not be arrested. The investigation was conducted by both local and federal officials.
San Diego Police Chief William Lansdowne said officers received hundreds of complaints in the past 18 months about burglaries, assaults and armed robberies in areas near the dispensaries.
During the investigation, undercover officers were able to talk to several doctors and obtain open-ended marijuana prescriptions based on vague complaints of illnesses, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said.
The officers were then able to buy marijuana several times at the dispensaries. At some of the locations, she said, the marijuana was packaged into cookies and candy bars.
The District Attorney filed charges of illegal marijuana sales against five of the dispensaries that were searched. They are:
• Ocean Beach Dispensary, and
• Utopia, both on Voltaire Street in Ocean Beach
• Native Sun Dispensary on Rosecrans Street, in the Midway District
• THC Dispensary, no longer in business, in Pacific Beach
• The California Medical Center, on La Jolla Boulevard in La Jolla.
“Our office has no intention of stopping those who are chronically ill with AIDS, glaucoma and cancer from obtaining any legally prescribed drug, including medical marijuana, to help them ease their pain,” Dumanis said.
But the law that allows for the use of medical marijuana in the state is “being severely abused and it has led to the neighborhood pot dealer opening up storefronts from La Jolla to Ocean Beach to North Park,” she said.