Morro Bay Medical Marijuana Dispensary Bust

March 28, 2007

Amy Andrews, Kelly Bush, Andrew Masuda, KSBY TV 6

Federal agents raid the only medical marijuana dispensary between Buellton and Oakland and Action News has the exclusive video.  

The raid took place around 11a.m. Thursday morning on the 700 block of Monterey Avenue in Morro Bay.

San Luis Obispo county sheriff's detectives and DEA agents are still at Compassionate Caregivers medical marijuana dispensary at this hour confiscating evidence for their case.

Just before 11a.m., numerous agents and deputies stormed into the Morro Bay facility.

According to Dispensary Attorney Louis Koory, security guard Abe Baxter was arrested on suspicion of selling marijuana.

The Arroyo Grande home of dispensary operator Charles Lynch was also raided Thursday morning in connection with the case.

Lynch has not been arrested at this time.

Deputies where seen carrying out boxes of evidence around 2:30 this afternoon.

The contents of those boxes are being withheld due to a federal court order.

"This investigation has been going for about 6 months. Unfortunately I can't really comment on the circumstances surrounding it because both warrants were sealed by federal magistrate at the request of the US attorney," said San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Department Sergeant Brian Hascall.

"There has been a documented history of the DEA raiding other dispensaries in the state however most of the other raids have been based on allegations of money laundering or other things," said Dispensary Attorney Louis Koory.    

According to a confidential source, the security guard is accused of selling medical marijuana to people without a doctor's recommendation.

The source claims the facility was working with a doctor in West Covina who gave recommendations to just about anyone who made an appointment.  

In 1994 California voters passed a proposition legalizing medical marijuana for those with a doctor's approval.

However, marijuana is still illegal under federal law, which is one of the reasons the DEA pursued this case.

Action News Reporter Andrew Masuda has more on how this raid will affect the dispensary's clients.

Medical marijuana users who have gone to the Morro Bay dispensary were shocked and disappointed upon hearing the news.

Brenda Cowan said she's prescribed medical marijuana to ease the chronic pain caused by various ailments like acute arthritis.

Cowan said she was one of the first clients of the Morro Bay dispensary and that it seemed to be operated and run like a tight ship.

She calls the raid and closure of the Morro Bay dispensary heartbreaking.

"It's been marvelous because I've traveled everywhere from the San Fernando Valley, north Hollywood to Tulare to San Francisco to Bakersfield and it's not fair," said Cowan.

After having a dispensary just 20 miles away, clients are frustrated because it appears the long drives to legally obtain something that provides them a quality of life must resume.

Clients said the worst part is that it appears the actions of a few dishonest people will end up hurting hundreds of others who rely on medical marijuana to improve their quality of life.

They also fear the affect the raid will have on plans to open another dispensary in Templeton later this year.

The closest medical marijuana dispensary for patients in San Luis Obispo is now in Buellton.

There are also multiple medical dispensaries open in Santa Barbara.

These dispensaries follow a strict set of guidelines to stay within the law and under the radar including getting proper licensing from the State of California, verifying prescriptions with doctors, and refraining from any advertising.

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