Feds raid Peninsula’s only marijuana club

May 28, 2008

Tamara Barak Aparton, San Francisco Examiner

Federal agents smashed the front door to the Peninsula’s only cannabis club Wednesday morning, seizing marijuana and shutting down the downtown dispensary.

Commander Mark Wyss of the San Mateo County Narcotics Task Force confirmed that his agency assisted in the 6 a.m. raid at Holistic Solutions at 216 Second St.

Federal Drug Enforcement Agency Special Agent Casey McEnry said searches were conducted at several locations in the Bay Area and Northern California, but refused to divulge details, saying that the documents relating to the raid were under court seal.

No arrests have been made, but drugs and paperwork were confiscated, she said.

And while law enforcement officials remained tight-lipped Wednesday, medical marijuana advocates said the operation was part of a trio of early morning raids of Holistic Solutions dispensaries in San Mateo, Clearlake and Richmond, according to Rebecca Saltzman, chief of staff for Americans for Safe Access.

Saltzman, who said her organization sent volunteers to observe each of the raids, disputed the DEA’s assertion that nobody was arrested.

“We do know some employees were arrested, at least at some locations,” she said. “They may have been released later.”

Kevin Reed, owner of San Francisco medical cannabis collective The Green Cross, said Holistic Solutions owner Ken Estes runs about six medical marijuana facilities in California.

“I think the DEA has always targeted the larger operations,” Reed said. “I think the small collectives operating under the sanctuary of state law, at the end of the day, will be OK.”

After the raid on Wednesday afternoon, a steady stream of medical marijuana patients found plywood over the locked front door of Holistic Solutions in downtown San Mateo. A sign read, “Got busted today. Sorry!”

Kindred McCune, 33, described Estes as a wheelchair user who kept the facility spotless and safe.

“This place was really good because it was affordable,” McCune said. “I have to go all the way to San Francisco now, with the price of gas the way it is.”

Saltzman said the patients in San Mateo would be particularly hard hit by the raid.

“You can imagine if the only pharmacy in your town shut down,” she said. “It would be very difficult for sick patients to drive 50 miles.”

The raids highlight the legal limbo many pot clubs face. Proposition 215, also known as the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, allows those with a doctor’s recommendation to possess and cultivate marijuana for personal use in California. However, pot is still illegal under federal law and the legality of cannabis dispensaries is subject to varied interpretation by different municipalities.

In August, a federal raid shut down three medical marijuana dispensaries in downtown San Mateo. 

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tbarak@sfexaminer.com

Recent raids in San Mateo

AUG. 29

» Patients Choice Resource Cooperative, 164 South Blvd.

» Peninsula Patients Local Option, 297 Claremont St.

» MHT, 60 E. Third Ave.

WEDNESDAY

» Holistic Solutions, 216 Second St.



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