Federal agents raid S.F. pot dispensary

Fifteen arrested in actions in Oakland and The City; lawyer deems events ‘outrageous’

Federal drug agents raided a marijuana dispensary, grow sites and associated businesses in San Francisco and Oakland on Tuesday, arresting 15 people and seizing marijuana, property and cash.

The Drug Enforcement Administration conducted raids on five locations in San Francisco and three in Oakland connected with a medical marijuana dispensary at 1760 Mission St., according to DEA spokeswoman Special Agent Casey McEnry. The address is listed as the locationof a business called Compassionate Caregivers.

During Tuesday’s raids, the result of an investigation that commenced earlier this year, agents seized more than 12,700 marijuana plants, capable of yielding more than 3,100 pounds of marijuana with a street value of more than $9 million, McEnry said. They also seized $125,000 in cash and bank accounts, cars and computers.

The Internal Revenue Service and the Santa Clara and Humboldt County sheriff’s departments aided the DEA in Tuesday’s raid.

The dispensary in San Francisco served as a grow site, McEnry said. Agents also raided two other grow sites, a storage facility and a residence in The City, Special Agent Javier Pena, who led the investigation, said. They raided three businesses in Oakland, including an administrative office for the dispensary and a company called Potent Employment, an alleged staffing service for the grow sites and dispensary.

“In San Francisco, we’ve taken steps to regulate the medical cannabis dispensaries,” Supervisor Chris Daly said Tuesday after hearing of the raids. “An overwhelming majority of San Franciscans support the medical use of cannabis, so it’s unfortunate the feds are running roughshod over us.”

Protestors lined the sidewalk in front of the dispensary, holding signs and criticizing DEA agents, who loaded boxes labeled “MJ and Hash” into a van.

A patient who identified himself only as Ernesto said, “Now I have to go to the streets, where it’s unsafe. They [the dispensary] do everything legal. They’re just really nice people.”

“We’re up there doing our job and they’re protesting,” Pena said after the raid. “We respect their rights. Obviously some people are shouting for us to leave, but that’s part of the job. We’re professionals.”

A lawyer or representative for 36-year-old Sparky Rose, of San Francisco, whom the DEA identified as the operator of the dispensary, was notavailable for comment Tuesday. San Francisco attorney Omar Figueroa, who has represented medical marijuana growers and patients in the past, called the raid “outrageous.”

“My understanding is that these medical cannabis dispensaries welcome regulation and they just want there to be bright-line rules that they can follow,” Figueroa said. “The victims of the raids are going to be the patients that are members of these dispensaries.”

Q&A: Medical marijuana in S.F.

How many pot clubs are there in The City? About 30 to 40 dispensaries sell marijuana in San Francisco.

How can it be sold openly? Isn’t it illegal? The substance is legal with a doctor’s prescription under state proposition 215, passed in 1996 by a 56 percent majority of California voters. Marijuana is illegal, however, under federal law.

Are the clubs regulated? San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors voted last year to regulate marijuana dispensaries operating within The City. Clubs must apply for licenses and must undergo inspections by the police, fire and health departments.

sfarooq@examiner.com; amartin@examiner.com Staff Writer Josh Sabatini contributed to this reportBay Area NewsLocal

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