Pot club owners complain about raid

January 04, 2006

Rebecca F. Johnson, The Argus (CA)

A post-Christmas raid on a medical marijuana collective in Dublin prompted the owners of the club to complain about police action to the Dublin City Council.

Dublin and Livermore police and Alameda County Sheriff's Department executed search warrants on CT Creation, a business at 6711-B Sierra Court and a private residence Dec. 26, 2005, Dublin Police Lt. Glenn Moon said.

Moon said the police seized about five pounds of marijuana, various hash products and "marijuana edibles" and $11,000 in cash from the properties. Dublin does not permit medical marijuana dispensaries.

CT Creation has had a business license to sell T-shirts, graphics and personal care products since February 1993 from a residence, Moon said.

In July 2005, CT Creation requested a business license to operate out of the Sierra Court storefront but did not attempt to gain a medical marijuana dispensary permit, Moon said.

"At that point, there was no mention of a request to try and operate a medicinal marijuana collective or co-op," he said.

The business license was granted in October. Shortly thereafter, the police began receiving anonymous complaints about potential illegal drug activity at the site, Moon said.

But owner Cindy Thomas and a woman who operates the store named Lisa — who requested her last name not be used — said the Dublin Greene club is a collective that helps patients obtain medical marijuana with compassionate care.

"I myself had a need for medical marijuana due to a long illness," Thomas said. "I wanted to present a club that was woman-oriented."

Club members are required to comply with a dress code and present proper identification, including a driver's license, doctor's recommendation and an Oakland Cannabis Buyers Cooperative card.

About 120 members belong to the club and hail from all over the valley, although most are Dublin and Pleasanton residents. Thomas said no smoking is allowed on the premises and they only take names by referral.

"We are very patient-oriented," she said.

The collective was conducted out of a back room where people could see samples of the marijuana, even look at the crystals under a microscope. Wednesday, the back room was fairly empty, save for a T-shirt that stated "Got Pot," a lamp in the shape of a marijuana plant and some other items, such as the stores' signature soap in the shape of ducks.

Thomas and Lisa came before the City Council on Tuesday night to complain about the manner in which the raid was conducted and the way the police drew guns on Lisa's children and seized patient records.

Moon said the search was conducted according to protocol.

"As far as the gun-pointing goes, when you make an entry, until conditions are deemed safe, guns are drawn for the officers' protection," Moon said. "Then they are holstered."

Moon said the district attorney's office must decide if criminal charges will be brought against the club.

"We're looking at $11,000 on their books to determine if they're actually making a profit here or if they're non-profit," he said.

Dublin City Manager Richard Ambrose said the city sent the owner a letter informing them that they were violating the zoning ordinance.

"The business is not legally operating under our zoning ordinance because that type of use is not permitted in that location," he said.

The Dublin City Council placed a moratorium on medical marijuana clubs Aug. 16, after receiving an inquiry about establishing a dispensary in the city. The council extended the moratorium in September.

But Thomas and Lisa said they think their club is legal and consulted with an attorney and the Americans for Safe Access, a medical marijuana advocacy organization.

"We think it's really a shame the Dublin police chose to raid a mom-and-pop collective such as the Dublin Greene the day after Christmas," said Hilary McQuie, communications director for the group.

Ambrose said city staff members will issue a report on medicinal marijuana within the next couple of months so the City Council can consider whether to allow dispensaries to operate in the city.

For the club's sake, Lisa wants them to allow the operation.

"We would like the city of Dublin to step up and do the job that the cities around the county have already been doing," she said.

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