DEA raids SF pot club, home

December 20, 2005

Associated Press, San Mateo Daily Journal

Federal agents on Tuesday raided a medical marijuana club and other locations linked to its owners, but no arrests were made, according to a spokeswoman for the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Agents seized 217 plants early Tuesday at an indoor growing operation in Penngrove, spokeswoman Casey McEnry said.

They also seized 122 plants, thousands of dollars in cash and an unknown amount of processed marijuana from the San Francisco home of Steve and Catherine Smith, who run the Hopenet Co-op, a few blocks from their home, McEnry said.

Acting on information obtained in those raids, agents seized 500 marijuana plants at a San Francisco warehouse and baked goods containing marijuana at Hopenet later Tuesday, McEnry said.

The investigation, which began in 2003 after agents received an anonymous letter that led it to the Penngrove operation, is ongoing, she said. DEA officials were working with the U.S. Attorney’s office to determine possible criminal charges.

The co-op is next door to the California Marijuana Party, an organization that lobbies for the national legalization of medicinal use of the drug.

California voters legalized medicinal pot use in 1996, but it remains against federal law. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled this summer that the federal government has the authority to prosecute people whose activities are legal under state law.

“We don’t distinguish between medical marijuana and other marijuana,” McEnry said. “DEA’s mission remains the same. We’re going to continue targeting drug-trafficking organizations.”

Dozens of medical marijuana advocates rallied at the co-op to show support for its owners.

“I think it is very bizarre that this is happening to one of the best dispensers in the city,” said Hilary McQuie Woodson with Americans for Safe Access, a national coalition that works to protect medical marijuana users. “This is a mean-spirited, cold-hearted act for the DEA to do right before the holiday season.”

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