Pubdate: Fri, 26 Apr 2013
Source: Times-Herald, The (Vallejo, CA)
Copyright: 2013 The Times-Herald
Author: Tony Burchyns


These packaged marijuana products were returned this week to a Vallejo
marijuana dispensary from the Vallejo Police Department. The items
were confiscated last year duriing one of several raids on local
dispensaries. The items were returned after the criminal case was
dismissed. (Courtesy photo) As Solano County law enforcement
brainstorms new ways to investigate marijuana dispensaries, Vallejo
police this week returned nearly 60 pounds of weed and hundreds of
dead plants to two dispensaries raided last year.

The property was returned Wednesday to Better Health Group and L.E.S.
collective members after a judge tossed out one of cases and
prosecutors dismissed the other. Retired Solano County Superior Court
Judge Allan Carter granted the order for the return of the property on
April 12.

San Rafael attorney Scot Candell, who represented both collectives,
said he was glad to see the cases winding down.

"The court found the patients were complying with California's medical
marijuana laws and the property was being lawfully possessed under
state law," Candell said. "The only thing left to determine is whether
the medicine has been rendered useless due to the yearlong storage in
police evidence lockers, and if so, how the patients will be
compensated for that loss."

Candell estimated the original value of the returned property to be
more than $200,000. He said the collectives would seek damages from
the city for any losses.

Asked if the city could be liable for any assessed losses, City
Attorney Claudia Quintana declined to comment on what she said could
become pending litigation.

Items returned to Better Health Group included 44 pounds of pot, 346
marijuana food products, 531 dead plants, 44 marijuana-infused drinks
and 14 computers.

An additional 14 pounds of marijuana were returned to

In December, a Solano County judge disagreed with prosecutors that
Better Health Group was operating outside of the state's medical
marijuana laws. That ruling followed a former Vacaville dispensary
operator's acquittal last April.

Since January, the Solano County District Attorney's Office has
dismissed charges in four other Vallejo dispensary cases. Also,
charges against a former Fairfield dispensary operator have been dropped.

Prosecutors, however, say they are regrouping.

On Thursday, Solano County District Attorney Don du Bain announced
that his office last week held a one-day conference with federal,
state and county law enforcement agencies. The conference, du Bain
said, was designed to bring together all local law enforcement
agencies in Solano County that are charged with enforcing state laws
regulating the distribution of marijuana.

"Recent decisions by California appellate courts have varied in their
interpretations of the medical marijuana laws, causing questions among
law enforcement agencies on how to responsibly enforce these laws
while protecting public safety," du Bain said. "(Friday's) conference
focussed on those enforcement efforts that have been most effective in
protecting our communities from illegal marijuana dispensaries that
operate outside the bounds of state and local laws that are intended
to regulate them."

Vallejo police say they will continue to investigate marijuana shops
they feel are simply using the Compassionate Use Act and Medical
Marijuana Program Act as a front for criminal activities.

Vallejo Police Chief Joseph Kreins, who was hired after the most
recent investigations had started, added, "As law enforcement
agencies, our goal is to protect our community from those individuals
who blatantly operate criminal enterprises. Recognizing that the
issues surrounding dispensaries are complex and constantly in a state
of analysis and review, we are appreciative that the district attorney
has taken a leadership role in bringing local, state and federal
agencies together to brainstorm potential solutions to this
ever-changing situation."
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