Santa Barbara: Police raid HortiPharm pot shop (7 arrests)
- Police raid HortiPharm pot shop
By COLBY FRAZIER June 12, 2010
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
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
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
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
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