Riverside police raid pot dispensary

May 22, 2007

onja Bjelland, Press-Enterprise (CA)

Riverside police raided a medical-marijuana dispensary Tuesday that was filled with prepackaged pot stored in a 6-foot-high safe with humidity control.

The business also sold tea cakes, truffles and cookies with "proprietary spices." Some had "double strength" stickers. All said "medical cannabis."

Riverside police officials said it was the first medical marijuana dispensary found within the city limits.

Prop. 215, approved by the state's voters in 1996, decriminalized the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. But the sale and use of marijuana is illegal under federal law.

Follow-up state legislation in 2003 allows for nonprofit farming cooperatives and requires identification cards for patients using marijuana for medical purposes.

This operation did not fit that model, according to police.

Sales for profit are not allowed under either state law, said county Deputy District Attorney Mike Quesnel. Police did not arrest anyone at the site Tuesday, but operators could face charges of possessing and selling marijuana.

In January, the district attorney's office filed felony charges against three men in connection with a Palm Desert dispensary.

Police watched the Riverside business and discovered it served 20 to 30 customers in an hour, said Lt. John Carpenter.

The store, at 7201 Arlington Ave., had a business license for unclassified retail registered under ET Investment Corp. of Riverside. It operated as California Caregivers Association -- Riverside or C.C.A.R. Paperwork indicates the business tried to have customers designate the store as a caregiver that then would be legally allowed to provide medical marijuana.

Clerks asked customers for written recommendations from doctors or identification cards, said Steven Frasher, police spokesman. If a patron did not have that, the store had a list of doctors prospective customers could see.

A board inside the storefront operation listed the type of marijuana for sale, including Trainwreck and Maui Wowie.

Display cases held spice bottles full of dried marijuana as well as paraphernalia such as glass pipes and bongs.

Narcotics investigators counted 120 labeled and full pill bottles discovered in one of the white coolers.

The office had a ventilation system, small marijuana plants under grow lights and scales.



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