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Santa Barbara: Police raid HortiPharm pot shop (7 arrests)

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    Police raid HortiPharm pot shop By COLBY FRAZIER — June 12, 2010 http://www.thedailysound.com/News/061210potshopraid Seven people were arrested yesterday
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      Police raid HortiPharm pot shop


      By COLBY FRAZIER — June 12, 2010

      http://www.thedailysound.com/News/061210potshopraid


      Seven people were arrested yesterday during a sweeping series of raids
      aimed at an alleged illegal medical marijuana operation at the
      HortiPharm dispensary on State Street, which authorities said was also
      linked to a money laundering scheme.

      In addition to raiding the dispensary, located at 3516 State Street,
      authorities served search warrants at three addresses in Goleta,
      including a storage facility, a home on Almond Avenue in Santa Barbara
      that was allegedly being used as an indoor grow-house, and at 5423 Santa
      Rita Rd. in Lompoc.

      According to police, the HortiPharm dispensary, which has operated off
      and on in the area for the better part of a decade, was violating the
      terms outlined in the Compassionate Use Act, the law passed by
      California voters that legalized marijuana for medicinal use.

      Along with these violations, authorities say the owners of the
      dispensary, Joshua David Braun, 33, and Dayli Rose Braun, 26, were
      laundering money through a separate business, Pizza Guru, which is also
      owned by the couple.

      An employee who answered the phone last night at the restaurant, which
      was also searched by authorities yesterday morning, said Pizza Guru,
      located at 3534 State Street, was closing for the next few days.

      Several other people, including Carl David Quinn, 31, Nicole Cate
      McKernan, 24, Tiffany Shinn, 25 and George Wardlaw, 46, were all
      arrested or cited on drug charges. Andrew Edison, 35, was cited for
      resisting arrest, authorities said.

      The raids were the latest outburst of activity surrounding the murky
      rules outlined in the Compassionate Use Act.

      Santa Barbara city leaders have grappled with drafting an ordinance to
      regulate dispensaries, but the political divisiveness of the work has
      hobbled the process, leaving some local lawmakers pushing for an
      outright ban.

      The complication of any work done at the local level to figure out how
      to deal with the legal or semi-legal distribution of marijuana will come
      to the fore this November when California voters will decide through a
      ballot measure whether to legalize, and tax, the drug outright.

      News of the HortiPharm raid spread quickly through medical marijuana
      circles yesterday, leaving other dispensary owners relieved they
      weren't included in the crackdown.

      Sefton Graham, director of the Greenlight Collective, one of three
      marijuana dispensaries operating in Santa Barbara that is permitted to
      do so by the city, said the raid was surprising in some ways, and not in
      others.

      For instance, he noted that HortiPharm is not one of the dispensaries
      operating under the city's ordinance, and it has run into hot water
      with the city in the past.

      Still, although Graham said he didn't know the Braun's
      personally, he's never heard anything bad about HortiPharm. ?"I
      have only good things to say about HortiPharm," he said.
      "They're actually a pretty tight operation as far as providing
      medicine to the city of Santa Barbara. It would be sad if this is it for
      them."

      Asked if he was worried at all about raids affecting the Greenlight,
      Graham said he wasn't. He noted that compared to HortiPharm, which
      due to its long tenure in the city likely serves around 5,000 people,
      his operation is small and complies with the provisions of the
      Compassionate Use Act.

      "I know that we're following the Compassionate Use Act," he
      said. "We haven't even done enough business to launder any money
      or [to have] bank accounts to seize or anything. We're a pretty
      small collective."

      During the raids, which were executed by the Santa Barbara Police
      Department and the sheriff's department, detectives said they seized
      a large amount of marijuana, hashish and other marijuana products and
      paraphernalia. Police also seized "sophisticated equipment used to
      grow large quantities of marijuana," according to a news release.

      The Braun's, who were arrested at a hotel in Goleta several hours
      after the initial wave of raids occurred, were booked into county jail.
      Bail was set at $1 million apiece.

      Authorities said the investigation is ongoing and more arrests are
      expected.


      http://www.thedailysound.com/News/061210potshopraid
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