Friday, April 27, 2012

“What happened to Topanga Caregivers?”


PAN received many inquiries about “What happened to Topanga Caregivers?”
On April 20, 2012, Topanga Caregivers in Woodland Hills was raided by LAPD with a search warrant signed by an LA Superior Court judge at 10:00 a.m. that morning.  The warrant also included one director’s home and vehicle.  Six people were arrested that day: three collective members on duty including the director and three security guards.  Currently charges include possession with intent for the director and conspiracy charges for his colleagues.   It’s unconfirmed the charges on the security guards.  All are out on bail.   Arraignment is set for May 18, 2012.
The raid was fairly typical: cameras removed; electronics tampered, destroyed, seized; cell phones, car keys seized; safes destroyed; all areas, furniture, shelves, drawers, boxes, containers searched, scattered; all cash seized; all cannabis flowers seized; some edibles and concentrates left behind. 
Patients report it was a terrifying scene and some officers were overly aggressive.  Officers allegedly boasted this was the beginning of a huge crackdown in the west SFV similar to that in north valley.  Specifically, the Topanga Division of the LAPD appears to be initiating an operation similar to that of the Devonshire Division; their “mission” – to shut down every collective in their jurisdiction, which they did.  Just ask the former director of Cannamed of Northridge who is still fighting her charges nearly three years on and maintaining her innocence. 
Topanga Caregivers states they are innocent, too.  They maintain: they have all applicable permits and licenses; they have complied with paying all applicable fees and taxes; they have successfully registered for every LA ‘list;’ they operated in the spirit of our State laws and “The Attorney General Guidelines;” they provided for a large compassion program.   PAN is witness to some of the collective’s open and cooperative relationships with their council member’s office as well as LAPD detectives investigating violent armed robberies.  
Like Cannamed of Northridge, Topanga Caregivers argues they operated within all regulatory schemes set forth by local and state authorities.  To charge any of these people with possession with intent or other related offences is nothing short of entrapment.   To point guns in the faces of peaceful, law-abiding patients is reprehensible.  For LA to continue to let this happen is shameful.
So, the next question is then, “Why?”
Politics.  The failure of LA City Council to properly regulate medical cannabis collectives is ignorant.  SF, Oakland, Berkeley and a few other NorCal cities have had reasonable success implementing Prop. 215 and S.B. 420 activities in their communities.   LA City Attorney Carmen Trutanich and his assistant Jane Usher have wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars, possibly millions, defending the City’s illegal and unworkable ordinance defining their intentions as their “mission.”  
This toxic atmosphere allows the LAPD to abuse their authority and terrorize law-abiding citizens while City Hall turns a blind eye.  It creates a very unsafe situation for patients who learn to fear contacting the local police in an emergency, making patients sitting ducks for violent crimes.  Collectives don’t create crime.  Bad laws create crime.
PAN’s question is, “What is the ‘mission’ of the LA medical cannabis community?”
Those interested in participating in court support can call (323) 334-5282. 

1 comment:

Gus Estravit said...

We cant let Government do this.