For the past few years LA dispensaries have been thrown hurdle after hurdle, and the biggest of those may be an overzealous LAPD Narcotics Squad in the San Fernando Valley division.
For three years this Narc squad has done everything in it’s power to hinder safe access. This quote from Det. Robert Holcomb sums up how he feels about the legitimacy of medical cannabis,
“I’ve been working narcotics for 25 years…It used to be, the hardest thing was to find the dealer. Now they put a big green cross on the door and advertise on the Internet.”
This prevailing attitude in the Devonshire division has led to the closing of 37 dispensaries, and the arrests of 74 people. All the folks arrested are facing felony charges.
At the final Devonshire community meeting of the year last November, Det. Holcomb was pitching his war on medical marijuana to members of the community. He told the crowd about dispensaries saying,
“..these operations, many of which characterize themselves as community businesses, have a negative effect on their communities.”
He went on to note how he felt these facilities have too much security, describing having bars on the window as “excessive.” He then stated that these facilities operate similarly to gangs, but I find it pretty tough to believe LA’s 60,000 gang members are calling to verify doctor’s notes. More so gangs tend to try flying under the radar, remember back in the day “Finding the dealer was the hardest part.” Now Holcomb is putting folks attempting to be as compliant as possible with Prop 215 and SB 420 into this category of street criminals, as opposed to going after more violent offenders who don’t advertise.
Holcomb also made the wild claim that all marijuana found on minors was diverted from medical marijuana facilities.
One of the providers who was forced to close, Joao Silverstein, whose CannaMed dispensary in Northridge was shut down in August by police said,
“It was like a little private pogrom…We fought for years to meet the requirements…Every hoop the city put in front of us, we jumped through like trained seals, with the belief that we were operating within the law. Legally.”
Attorney SaraLynn Mandel has seen the push to close medical marijuana facilities first hand. Her clients have had assets seized and personal bank accounts blocked. Not to mention threatening prosecutors encouraging people to plead guilty or else. She said,
“These are people who were adhering to what the city told them was acceptable,” she said. “In Devonshire, they don’t distinguish between people obeying the law and people who are not.”
Shame on the Devonshire Narcotics division for denying safe access to their community, and for trying to make people doing things the right way felons.
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