Sacramento marijuana dispensary raided; 2 operators arrested
June 16, 2011
Matt Kawahara and Peter Hecht, Sacramento Bee
Authorities raided a south Sacramento marijuana dispensary Thursday and arrested its operator and his father, alleging the pot shop has been operating illegally as a for-profit organization.
Elk Grove police, along with the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department, served a search warrant at the R&R Wellness Center on Quinta Court at about 10:30 a.m. Thursday, said Elk Grove police spokesman Officer Chris Trim.
Search warrants were also served at a Sacramento storage facility and two residences in Elk Grove occupied by Bryan Smith, 27, who operates the dispensary, and his father Kelly Smith, 54, Trim said.
Detectives recovered more than 400 marijuana plants and several hundred pounds of processed marijuana during the raid, Trim said.
A large amount of cash was also recovered at one of the residences in Elk Grove, he said.
Bryan and Kelly Smith were arrested on suspicion of producing or cultivating marijuana and possession of marijuana for sale, police reported. Bryan Smith was also arrested on suspicion of transportation of marijuana.
Both were being held at the Sacramento County Main Jail. Online jail booking logs indicated they are not eligible for bail.
Police believe the dispensary has not been adhering to provisions of the state's Compassionate Use Act, Trim said, instead operating as a for-profit organization and "essentially acting as illegal marijuana dealers."
Under state law, dispensaries must operate as nonprofit patient organizations.
The Wise Law Group of Sacramento, which represents the principals of the dispensary, released a statement Thursday saying R&R Wellness has been operating in conformance with the Compassionate Use Act, Medical Marijuana Program Act, Attorney General Guidelines and the city of Sacramento Medical Marijuana Dispensary Ordinance.
"We look forward to challenging the legality of law enforcement's actions in this matter and clarifying the innocence of R&R Collective," the law group said in the written statement.
Thursday's raid was the result of an investigation that began in February when police served three search warrants related to indoor growing and cultivation of marijuana at locations in Elk Grove.
Detectives developed information leading them to believe the dispensary was not adhering to the Compassionate Use Act, Trim said.
A small group of medical marijuana advocates picketed outside the dispensary Thursday as authorities seized bags of processed marijuana, computers and file cabinets containing paperwork.
The raid was blasted by Kris Hermes, a spokesman for Americans for Safe Access, an Oakland-based group that advocates for medical marijuana users.
Hermes took issue with Elk Grove authorities raiding a dispensary in Sacramento. He said police allegations of profiteering by marijuana dispensaries are "a common PR tactic to justify their actions and gain sympathy with the public."
Trim said that Elk Grove police conducted the raid because it was part of a department investigation that originated in Elk Grove.