Federal agents raid Cherryland pot club

October 08, 2008

Eric Kurhi, Oakland Tribune

CHERRYLAND — Federal agents on Wednesday raided We Are Hemp, a medical marijuana dispensary at 931 East Lewelling Blvd., and removed six boxes of evidence but made no arrests, authorities said.

The Drug Enforcement Administration declined to disclose what spurred the raid. The dispensary has been operating for eight years.

"The documents relating to today's enforcement operation remain under court seal," agent Javier F. Pena said in a prepared statement Wednesday. "A federal search warrant was served and items of evidentiary value were seized. No arrests have been made and the investigation is ongoing."

Club owner Adele Morgan could not be reached for comment. It remains unclear whether We Are Hemp will open for business today.

A handful of marijuana rights activists gathered outside the police tape surrounding the converted home as about a dozen federal agents removed the boxes around 3 p.m. Police did not elaborate on what was inside the boxes.

"This is always going on — the DEA continues to violate state law," said George Pappas, a coordinator for Oakland-based advocacy group Americans for Safe Access. "This collective has a license with Alameda County and has been benefitting the community for years."

Ron, a We Are Hemp regular customer who declined to give his last name, showed up during the raid and was disappointed that "one of the good ones" had been targeted.

"They have good security and follow the rule of the law," he said. "They set a price so that nobody could buy it and turn a profit on the street. (The DEA) is forcing people to do things that aren't legal."

Though the club has a permit, "the problem is there is a federal law" regarding marijuana, Alameda County sheriff's spokesman Sgt. J.D. Nelson said. He said there haven't been any more problems at the club than at other similar facilities. "But the clubs in general seem to attract a crowd that's problematic," he said.

John and Jahn McGee, neighbors of We Are Hemp, said they've never had any problems with the club operating nearby. They joined the protesters holding signs on the sidewalk Wednesday.

"They're organized, and a real good neighbor," John McGee said. "People just stop by, pick up and leave."

Since 2005, three marijuana dispensaries have operated in Cherryland under county permits. The Compassionate Patients' Cooperative was shut down about a year ago, leaving We Are Hemp and the Garden of Eden, on Foothill Boulevard.

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