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Hillcrest medical pot collective members stunned by police raid

September 10, 2009 - 9:58 am


When Wednesday began, employees and volunteers at Hillcrest Compassion Care were feeling pretty good about the work the collective was doing to provide medical marijuana to its members.

“We were going to be the first local cooperative to run television ads,” said employee Sara Sanders as she stood on the sidewalk waiting for San Diego police to finish seizing evidence upstairs in the University Avenue establishment.

A camera crew was taping the first commercial at about noon Wednesday when police pounded on the door and busted in with sidearms drawn.

“I was erasing a whiteboard, and all of a sudden, BOOM BOOM,” Sanders said. “Next thing I hear is, ‘Get your hands up and get against the wall!’”

Her husband, Booker Sanders Jr., a volunteer at Hillcrest Compassion Care, said police then brought in an informant – his face covered with something resembling a ski mask, his eyes hidden behind sunglasses – to point out employees, who were then handcuffed and hauled downstairs to an awaiting police van.

Sara Sanders said she counted six employees who were taken into custody, including owner Paul Cody, who shouted “Help me! Help me!” as police hoisted him out of his wheelchair by his belt buckle and forced him in the back of a patrol car.

Volunteers remained outside the collective for several hours while police searched the offices. Some spent their time watching for customers, whose faces all had the look of shock as they approached. Some turned on their heels and shuffled away when they spotted the police presence. Others asked questions.

“What happened here?” asked Daniel, a Poway hairdresser who had hoped to pick up some medical marijuana that helps with his aches and pains from cutting hair all day. When told about the raid, his jaw dropped.

He’d heard that the San Diego City Council had agreed the previous day to set up a task force to determine how best to comply with state law permitting the use of medical marijuana, meaning “at worst they weren’t going to open up any more. I didn’t know they were going to crack down on ones already open.”

Instead, Daniel said, “I guess I’ll have to pop painkillers or find it [marijuana] on the street, although I don’t want to do that. That’s the whole reason I got this,” holding up his medical-marijuana card and doctor’s recommendation.

By day’s end, the remaining workers not arrested were planning a protest rally downtown and wondering how they were going to get into their homes, since they were forced to leave their possessions –including personal house keys — in the shuttered University Avenue establishment.

When police finally brought in a battered truck just before 6 p.m., at least a half dozen police and detectives streamed out of the offices into the downstairs garage. They proceeded to load nearly three dozen carboard boxes, fluorescent light bars, and the like into the back of the vintage police truck. By 6 p.m., the police locked the business door and drove off.

On KUSI Thursday morning, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis – whose office orchestrated the multi-agendy raid of reportedly more than a dozen medical-marijuana dispensaries – defended the raids, arguing that law enforcement was “really just going after those businesses that are illegally selling marijuana. It’s not medical marijuana. It is retail drug sales.”

When asked which collectives are legal in San Diego, she responded, “There are none that I’m aware of that are legal.”

She acknowledged that the law is “confusing,” but when the subject of the city’s task force came up, Dumanis warned, “No matter what they do, if somebody is doing something illegal, we’re going to go after them.”

16 Comments leave one →
  1. September 10, 2009 - 7:54 pm 7:54 pm

    HCC is open

  2. September 10, 2009 - 7:54 pm 7:54 pm

    way good

  3. September 10, 2009 - 7:55 pm 7:55 pm


  4. mary Ann permalink
    September 10, 2009 - 8:13 pm 8:13 pm

    Prop 215 was clarified by California state senate bill SB420 some years ago. The law is not confusing, that is just a scam DA’s run on the public when they want to punish medical marijuana patients and providers. Listen up people: what Dumanis did was ILLEGAL under CA state law unless she can PROVE the dispensaries were violating the provisions of SB420. She is just another right winger seeing how far she can go and how hard she can push. Medical Marijuana is an easy target for her just as it is for the rippers who rob patients and dispensaries. I don’t see much difference between her and them. A thug is a thug.

  5. Ann permalink
    September 11, 2009 - 10:02 am 10:02 am

    These investigations ARE enforcing SB420. Storefront marijuana sales are NOT LEGAL UNDER STATE LAW. Google the law and you will see that only patients or primary caregivers can grow marijuana, and provide it to those who have a recommendation. Businesses who allow people to walk out with no responsibilities are not legal. Collective and cooperatives are allowed under the law. “Dispensaries” are not even mentioned. Patients are not being prosecuted or denied their rights to posses under 215 or SB420. Communities don’t want these crime magnets.

    • constatly agitated permalink
      September 11, 2009 - 2:50 pm 2:50 pm

      The investigations are NOT enforcing SB420. They are going in guns blazing and asking later. That’s like being pulled over and TOWED before they ask to see if you have a current license, registration and insurance. It is the MEDIA who is calling these ‘dispensaries’ – not the business themselves. Co-ops are allowed. They can grow collectively, disperse evenly (non-profit) but are also allowed to BUY from an outside source and SELL to patients for the cost incurred.

      Until you RUN A BUSINESS, pay rent, pay employees, insurance, improvements, have a legal fund which is a high risk on this kind of business, BUY equipment, education yourself with enough botanical knowlege to undertake growing – it’s pretty hard to horn in.

      Dumanis says OH let patients grow at home… yeah? right. Let’s see HER grow a DAISY from seed to flower…. there are very few patients who can figure out the complicated method to do indoor growing, since it’s ILLEGAL to grow outside in San Diego…….. so what is their choice? Yeah they are enforcing SB420…. they say Med MJ is approved for patients… but it’s IMPOSSIBLE for them to be supplied…. and PS paraphernalia stores are STILL being shut down, so USE tin foil patients. Talk about twisting intent 15 different directions.

      I have not run into a co-op yet that allows “people to walk out with no responsibilities” which I assume you MEAN to say — that they let people without patient cards come in to purchase medical MJ. There is too much riding, they have been very careful in their record keeping and who they allow in the doors.

      Patients are ABSOLUTELY still being prosecuted – read up. There are a few high profile cases wherein a cancer patient who was growing his own was busted and was tried under federal, not state law and is in prison. With Cancer. Another where a police sting caught up with a former cancer patient. Until you get all the facts straight, let’s not be post as if what you are saying is the truth, it just leads to more misconception.

      • kysmit permalink
        September 21, 2009 - 4:57 pm 4:57 pm

        Need to know where you got your information on “Illegal to grow outside in S. D.” ? Is that in city, county or all of the above ?
        I have not been able to find any info law etc. please state your source.

  6. Inflorescence permalink
    September 12, 2009 - 12:30 am 12:30 am

    “I have not run into a co-op yet that allows “people to walk out with no responsibilities” which I assume you MEAN to say — that they let people without patient cards come in to purchase medical MJ. ”

    No, I don’t think that’s what she MEANT to say. I think what she said was what she meant and that is that in Jerry’s guidlines he says that storefronts MAY be legal but it is NOT enough for a patient to merely “sign on” (by merely showing valid documents) to become a member but that the patient and the collective must have more responsibilty in growing and distributing the MJ then merely acting as a clearing house.

    I’m pretty sure this is where Bonnie’s contention stems from.

  7. Boestone permalink
    September 12, 2009 - 8:38 am 8:38 am

    yes…I think one proplem is with the designated caregivers documents… my understanding is that a patient is legally only allowed to designate ONE “caregiver”…each co-op/dipensary/collective visited…in order to signup this “caregiver designation” has to be signed…therefore amounting to illegally more than one….

    • Inflorescence permalink
      September 12, 2009 - 12:20 pm 12:20 pm

      No, this is not the point of contention.

      There is NO law that says a patient has to have only one caregiver. A patient may legall “club hop” all they want and legally have as many caregivers as they want.

  8. Boestone permalink
    September 15, 2009 - 8:23 am 8:23 am

    Come march on the DA’s office in a demonstration against UNINFORMED, UNETHICAL and SELFISH attacks against the marijuana community and her raids against the medical dispensaries in San Diego. Bonnie Dumanis has repeatedly shown that she opposes medical marijuana, and designed the raids to have the greatest possible shock value for the medical community.

    While opoerating under the guise of stopping some “bad apple” dispensaries, she has aimed a deliberate attack on the marijuana community as a whole.

    Don’t just sit there and hope you don’t get busted, come march and protest with us this wednesday september 16th. We will meet at the corner of N Harbor and W Broadway @ noon, and march to the DA’s office from there.

    We are not blocking the streets, traffic. If cars need to use driveways, please allow them. This is a lawful and peaceful protest. More than anything, please keep any medicating discreet and away from the protest itself, as we don’t want to send the wrong image to the public, and we are expecting media attention.

    If there are any police there, please let the protest organizers handle them.

    Lastly, please bring signs! You don’t have to, but they’re a great way to display your message and feelings about Bonnie Dumanis’ actions that people can see from afar.

  9. UNCLESAM permalink
    September 16, 2009 - 1:00 pm 1:00 pm


  10. kysmit permalink
    September 21, 2009 - 4:15 pm 4:15 pm

    My heart goes out to all of you that were effected by this shameful raid.
    Unfortunately they are allowed to F/w us all because we apparently are not well enough informed as to how the law reads. And w/the law being re-defined constantly it makes it almost impossible to keep up with.
    The following (from NORML site) helped me to understand how they were getting away some of this nonsense…. hope it helps you !
    California Supreme Court Ruling Limits Medical Marijuana Distribution
    November 24th, 2008 By: Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director

    Smelly Money Leads To Major Legal Review Of California’s Medical Marijuana Distribution
    In an important legal case decided today that cannabis reform advocates have been waiting on for nearly two years, the California Supreme Court ruled that criminal defendants are not entitled to a defense as Proposition 215 (Prop 215) caregivers if their primary role is only to supply marijuana to patients.
    “We hold that a defendant whose care-giving consisted principally of supplying marijuana and instructing on its use, and who otherwise only sporadically took some patients to medical appointments, cannot qualify as a primary caregiver under the Act and was not entitled to an instruction on the primary caregiver affirmative defense. We further conclude that nothing in the Legislature’s subsequent 2003 Medical Marijuana Program (Health & Saf. Code, § 11362.7 et seq.) alters this conclusion or offers any additional defense on this record. ”

    Prop 215 defines primary caregiver to be the “individual designated by the [patient]… who has consistently assumed responsibility for the housing, health, or safety of that person.” According to the Court, these words ” imply a caretaking relationship directed at the core survival needs of a seriously ill patient, not just one single pharmaceutical need. ”

    The Court concluded, ” a defendant asserting primary caregiver status must prove at a minimum that he or she (1) consistently provided care-giving, (2) independent of any assistance in taking medical marijuana, (3) at or before the time he or she assumed responsibility for assisting with medical marijuana. ”

    The Court’s ruling effectively limits the caregiver defense to relatives, personal friends and attendants, nurses, etc. In particular, it excludes its use by medical marijuana “buyers’ clubs,” retail dispensaries and delivery services.

    • Inflorescence permalink
      September 23, 2009 - 2:51 am 2:51 am

      “The remaining legal defense for medical marijuana providers is to organize as patient cooperatives and collectives, which are legal under SB 420.”

      It would help if you posted the entire article next time and not just your censored version.

      Thank you for your cooperation.

  11. bill permalink
    September 22, 2009 - 1:56 pm 1:56 pm

    I never thought i spent 4 years in the military to live in a comunist state!

  12. Fred permalink
    September 30, 2009 - 9:37 am 9:37 am

    I wish someone would start fighting back. When the police enter the establishment and threaten to kill everyone, then shoot back. After all, we are Americans and we have a right to defend ourselves from crooks. I say, “Shoot them back and end it – teach them a lesson – DEA or Police, I really don’t care – they are all crooks”.

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