.Raid & Return

GONE TO POT: A raid on San Jose Patients Group last year left the collective high and dry, but everything is expected to be returned—aside from the marijuana.

WHILE some San Jose cannabis providers experience a not-so-merry holiday season, Christmas has come early for others. About two weeks ago, employees at San Jose Patients Group and Angel’s Care Collective got word that criminal charges stemming from a Santa Clara County raid in November 2010 were being dropped.

“Obviously, the San Jose Patients Group is pleased to have this behind them,” says James Roberts, an attorney for the dispensary.

As an additional bonus, the cell phones and laptop computers of employees, along with all the money seized in the raid, will soon be returned. The club’s cannabis, however, will not. Roberts says the district attorney’s office worried it would be violating federal law by handing back the pot.

“I think that the district attorney is making it quite clear, at this point, that they were prepared to be somewhat more forgiving based upon the lack of clarity at that time,” says Roberts, referring to the lack of industry regulations from the county. But with new guidelines recently adopted by the district attorney’s office, he adds, “they expect the collectives to follow that, and if they don’t do that they won’t be as tolerant.”

Hunkering Down

A baker for a local cannabis edibles manufacturer initially sounded excited to have a reporter visit his production facility, but he had a change of heart after talking to his attorney and a jittery distribution partner. Calling to cancel the visit, the baker said his attorney advised him that now may not be the best time to talk to the media.

As with HempCon a few weeks back, the threat by U.S. attorneys to go after landlords who rent to dispensaries has chilled California’s pot scene. Most San Jose’s dispensaries didn’t sign up in advance for event booths at the convention, because they didn’t know if the city’s regulations were going to put them out of business.

A couple weeks ago, I dropped by a “420 doctor” office and was surprised to see that the waiting room, where patients normally spill out into the hallway, had only four people seated inside. At a recent visit to Yerba Buena Collective’s downtown location, an employee told me the collective is moving closer to Highway 101 because its landlord didn’t renew the lease.

When I relate all this to Kris Hermes, spokesman for the pro-cannabis group Americans for Safe Access, he says: “We’ve experienced something different, that there is still a lot of activity based on anger and frustration with what’s going on. That’s not to say that people aren’t buckling to the intimidation.”

Hermes says areas like San Francisco, San Diego and Sacramento County have seen collectives close due to enforcement measures, but other places like Los Angeles haven’t.

“So far the federal government’s actions have been fairly minimal in terms of what they’ve carried out,” says Hermes. “There’s been a handful of asset-forfeiture cases, but still—compared to the number of facilities in this state—very minimal.”

While some local dispensaries have closed due to landlord issues, none—so far—have been directly shuttered based on actions of U.S. attorneys.—Ted Cox

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