Former Dispensary Sues Vallejo Over Pot Raid

Picture via The Huffington Post

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.

Former Dispensary Sues Vallejo Over Pot Raid

Article by Tony Burchyns for the Times-Herald