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DEA, L.A. City Attorneys Take Separate Actions Against Multiple Medical Marijuana Dispensaries
A 2007 Dispensary raid | Photo by Shay Sowden for LAist/Used with permission
From lawsuits to raids, around 20 local marijuana dispensaries today were subject of various law enforcement activities. As the DEA served a search warrant to Organica Collective in Culver City this morning, the Los Angeles City Attorney's office announced the filing of lawsuits against three medical marijuana dispensaries, including Organica, which has been subject of raids in the past.
"It's a separate thing," explained Sarah Pullen with the DEA. "We were aware of each other's operation today." Pullen could not elaborate further than that search warrants being served. Witnesses tell the LA Times that three men were seen detained in handcuffs.
Los Angeles City Attorneys said nuisance and narcotics abatement lawsuits were filed against Organica and two Holistic Caregivers locations for violating the Narcotics Abatement Law, Public Nuisance Law and the Sherman Food, Drug and Cosmetics Law. Organica's owner, Jeffrey Joseph, is the subject of an arrest warrant for sales of marijuana.
The recent medical marijuana ordinance passed by the Los Angeles City Council has nothing to do with today's activities as that law has not been finalized. However, the City Attorney's office contends the sale of marijuana is illegal under state law. Collectives, where the costs of cultivation are shared, are legal, they say.
City Attorneys also "sent eviction letters to owners of 18 different dispensaries and owners of the properties engaged in the sale of marijuana by dispensary employees," according to a press release, which is posted in full with more specific details below:
INJUNCTIONS SOUGHT AGAINST MEDICAL MARIJUANA SHOPS FOR NUISANCE ACTIVITY LOS ANGELES - The City Attorney’s Safe Neighborhoods Division today filed nuisance and narcotics abatement lawsuits against three Los Angeles medical marijuana dispensaries following extensive law enforcement investigations. The lawsuits, filed by Assistant City Attorney Asha Greenberg, Assistant Supervising Attorney Ahn Trong, Deputy City Attorney Rebecca Gardner, seek narcotics injunctions due to repeated violations. Medical marijuana dispensaries Organica and two Holistic Caregivers locations named in the lawsuits are charged with violations of the Narcotics Abatement Law, Public Nuisance Law and the Sherman Food, Drug and Cosmetics Law. The civil lawsuits seek to stop the sale of marijuana at the facilities.
Organica Inc, located in both Culver City and Los Angeles, has been the subject of two search warrants and 12 purchases of marijuana products and plants. None of the marijuana sold to officers had proper labeling as required by the Sherman Law for drugs sold to the public. The owner, Jeffrey Joseph is also the subject of an arrest warrant for sales of marijuana.
Law enforcement officers received complaints in January 2009 that persons associated with Organica passed out flyers for the dispensary near Culver City High School as classes were being dismissed. Officers have found students to be in possession of marijuana apparently purchased from Organica. Persons stopped in the vicinity of Organica also admitted supplying the shop with marijuana laced edibles and picking up large quantities of marijuana from Organica for delivery to other dispensaries.
Two Holistic Caregivers locations in South Los Angeles were part of a Drug Enforcement Administration multi-agency investigation of seven dispensaries owned by Virgil Grant. Law enforcement officers conducted several undercover buys at each of the locations, as well as executed two search warrants at Grant’s home and the dispensaries, resulting in the recovery of large quantities of marijuana products. Grant was convicted on a federal indictment in June 2009 of possession with the intent to distribute a controlled substance and is awaiting sentencing.
In addition to the abatement lawsuits, the City Attorney’s Office sent eviction letters to owners of 18 different dispensaries and owners of the properties engaged in the sale of marijuana by dispensary employees.
In January, the City Attorney’s Office secured a preliminary injunction against Hemp Factory V, located in Eagle Rock, prohibiting the operators from unlawfully selling, serving, storing, or manufacturing controlled substances on the property, including marijuana. The operators are also prohibited from providing marijuana without first having it tested by an independent laboratory for pesticides or other poisonous substances. The case was the first in the state to hold that the Sherman Food, Drug and Cosmetics Law, which prohibits the sale of misbranded and adulterated drugs, applies to sales of marijuana.
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