Business as Usual in San Diego

The recent spate of raids on cannabis dispensaries in San Diego is not seen as much of a setback by industry insiders. Although led by DEA agents, the Dec. 12 raids were conducted by state and local law enforcement agents with warrants signed by a San Diego Superior Court judge. A total of 14 dispensaries and owners’ residences were hit. Three individuals were arrested – one for an outstanding warrant, one for possession of mushrooms, one vendor had a gun in his car. The raiders told the media they’d confiscated 50 pounds from the various venues. Our sources estimate it was at least twice as much. All but one of the dispensaries has re-opened, according to Dion Markgraff of Americans for Safe Access. The district attorney has six months to conduct an investigation and make a charging decision.

Markgraff sees “cracks in the DEA’s position on Prop 215 and dispensaries” revealed in the application for a search warrant and subsequent spinning of the raids in the media. “To get the cooperation of the locals they presented evidence that these places were operating outside the 215 guidelines… They said they were charging too much, they weren’t really non-profit, and they had ‘too much’ marijuana on the premises -a very vague notion.”

Another hopeful sign, to Markgraff, came when the regional DEA chief said on TV that his agents who participate in intra-agency task forces are “cross-deputized” and therefore respectful of state law. Margraff says, “Everyone from their side to our side is complaining that the dispensaries are unregulated. We say, ‘Okay, let’s regulate them and go on from here.'”

Laurie Kallonakis of NORML says that the Dec. 12 raiders left itemized lists of what they took, but with regard to money, never specified an amount. “None of the shop-owners signed the search warrants or the itemized lists.” says Kallanokis. “None of the officers signed the itemized lists. It was basically an organized robbery. If the shop owners had had renters’ insurance,” she says, “their rental insurance would have paid for it. I actually looked into it.” Kallonakis said the make-up of the raiding parties seemed to vary by neighborhood. “They used San Diego SWAT teams, Harbor Patrol, La Mesa Police, El Cajon Police, San Marcos… At some shops they came in waving their guns, in full armor, and at other shops they were very calm and cool… Some of the owners were told ‘You can open up shop tomorrow,'” according to Kallonakis. The implication was that getting raided from time-to-time would be part of the normal business cycle.

Flags flying, soldiers dying All the politicians lying Business as usual… Kallonakis herself was at an attorney’s office on the morning of the 12th, planning a response to the San Diego County Board of Supervisors’s (unanimous) refusal to issue medical-marijuana identification cards, as mandated by state law. The SD County Supes were also unanimous in authorizing a suit in federal court seeking to impose federal law with regard to marijuana (prohibition) instead of state law (Prop 215). That suit may be filed in early 2006, although county counsel has advised that it’s a loser.

Whether the Dec. 12 raids were inspired by or otherwise related to the Supes’ pro-prohibition activities is a matter of speculation among activists. Another looming question is whether the new mayor of the city of San Diego, Gerry Sanders, an ex-cop, okayed the raids.

Two of the five supes (Ron Roberts and Bill Horn) are up for re-election next year and can expect to face candidates backed by the medical cannabis industry.

A Housewife Reads the News

Rosie shakes her head. “They want to ban ephedra because it’s used to make methedrine… Ephedra tea has never hurt anyone -any more than a joint has ever hurt anyone, or than chewing coca leaves ever hurt anyone. That’s what we’d have when we were completely congested, instead of drugstore medication -Nyquil and all that stuff, my mom didn’t truck with it. So we had lemon tea and ephedra tea, and that’s what got you through the cold. She called it ‘squaw tea.’

“They’re going to outlaw willow bark -that’s aspirin, another American Indian invention. It’s as if they don’t trust the human body and they don’t trust the plant. They’re always going to improve it for us. They’re going to whip out our tonsils. They’re going to improve the older woman with their HRT. They used to do surgery on sinuses. Now, for money, they’re doing surgery on the spine. If you’re dying because your back is broken, the doctor should mess with your spine. But for no other reason. They’re completely nuts. ‘Improving’ everything for us… Dr. H’s wife had all her babies on the farm. You can understand why a smart woman wouldn’t want to go near a hospital!”

FRED GARDNER is the editor of O’Shaughnessy’s Journal of the California Cannabis Research Medical Group. He can be reached at:


Fred Gardner is the managing editor of O’Shaughnessy’s. He can be reached at