Medical Marijuana Is Legal in California. Except When It’s Not.
From a NY Times article by Thomas Fuller:
. . .The plight of CannaCraft, which despite the June raid has had sales of $10 million so far this year, has been closely watched by other companies in the marijuana business here because of the way the company began openly courting state and local lawmakers and applying for licenses like any other business.
This year, the company moved into offices in a corporate park in Santa Rosa that were once occupied by a company that manufactured heart stents, and it obtained a business tax license as a cannabis company and permission to operate agricultural processing machinery.
“Their zoning was good. The choice of building location was good,” said Julie Combs, a member of the Santa Rosa City Council. “They were certainly using an open-door policy.”
In May, the company hosted nearly 50 lawmakers and regulators from Sacramento, the state capital, to demonstrate the process they use to produce the soft-gel capsules and other cannabis-based products that do not involve smoking. As technicians in white lab coats operated machines designed to detect impurities in their products, Mr. Hunter demonstrated to lawmakers the extractors that produce oils from the plant.
“Because cannabis has a stigma around it, we really needed to come out and change people’s image of what a cannabis company looked like,” Mr. Hunter said during a recent interview at the company’s headquarters. “We knew we were going to be one of the first through the gate, so we wanted to set a good example for the industry that looked professional and was clean.”
But two weeks after the visit by lawmakers, around 100 officers and agents wearing tactical gear, and representing multiple law enforcement agencies, raided the company’s headquarters and four other facilities. The officers broke down doors and, according to the company, seized around $500,000 in cash, 22 machines worth $3 million and $1.5 million worth of cannabis products.
Mr. Hunter was arrested and held on $5 million bail, which critics of the raid said was an unusually large amount.
Lt. Michael Lazzarini of the Santa Rosa Police Department’s investigations bureau said the police acted on the basis of a “public safety risk” caused by the cannabis manufacturing process, which he described as “illegal and volatile.” [I don’t understand this—sounds like blather to me. – LG]
“There’s this huge desire to make Santa Rosa a place for this industry to thrive,” Lieutenant Lazzarini said. “But then a lot of these businesses operate outside of the scope of local, state or federal regulations.”
The raid prompted lawmakers in Sacramento to enact regulations in September to clarify that the extraction procedure was legal. Lieutenant Lazzarini said he was aware of the change in the law, but that his department’s investigation was ongoing.
I thought this reader comment was spot-on:
JimBob – Los Angeles 49 minutes ago
Let’s face it — the Santa Rosa cops wanted to get their hands on that cash. Pure and simple. Get rid of forfeiture laws and this stuff will stop.