Pubdate: Sat, 19 Oct 2013
Source: Times-Herald, The (Vallejo, CA)
Copyright: 2013 The Times-Herald
Author: Tony Burchyns


The owners of a former Vallejo medical marijuana dispensary raided by 
police last year are suing the city for alleged abuse of power, 
excessive force and retaliation.

Plaintiffs Daniel and Rhonda Chadwick operated Homegrown Holistic 
Cooperative, Inc. at 215 Tennessee St., which shut down after being 
raided by police on Aug. 10, 2012. It was one of at least six 
dispensaries raided by police last year; however, all of the cases 
fell apart because, lawyers argued, police didn't understand California law.

The plaintiffs are seeking unspecified damages.

"City officials calculated costs and strategically decided that it 
would be too expensive to deal with regulating medical cannabis 
dispensaries in a legal, civil manner and instead had the Vallejo 
Police Department conduct unlawful raids by officers uniformed in 
full SWAT gear ... to harass, threaten, intimidate, oppress and 
otherwise humiliate the plaintiffs," according to the amended 
complaint filed Thursday by San Francisco attorney Jennifer Nicoletto.

The 15-page Solano County Superior Court lawsuit claims the city 
retaliated against Daniel Chadwick for speaking out against the rash 
of raids on dispensaries at a contentious Vallejo City Council 
meeting on May 8, 2012. That meeting date later appeared on the 
search warrant served on the Chadwicks' dispensary, but was scratched 
out and replaced with "Aug. 9, 2012."

"Plaintiffs were targeted to be surveilled and entrapped based on 
Daniel Chadwick's documented public comment in exercising his right 
to free speech," the lawsuit claims.

The Chadwicks claimed they operated their dispensary at all times in 
compliance with state and local medical marijuana laws, which 
included paying the city's voter-enacted cannabis tax.

In other allegations, the lawsuit claims:

* That the city used information gathered through the enactment of 
the tax measure to begin a "large-scale surveillance operation" 
designed to "entrap, oppress, and eliminate several cannabis 
dispensaries in the city;"

* That the probable cause statement attached to the search warrant 
"is intentionally misleading, and judicially deceptive" because it 
didn't cite state appellate court decisions addressing the legality 
and membership size of storefront dispensaries;

* That the city used "oppressive tactics and excessive force to 
illegally raid several cannabis collectives (including plaintiffs') 
within the city."

The city has yet to respond in court to the lawsuit.

City Attorney Claudia Quintana did not return emails and calls seeking comment.
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