A Temecula home was raided in a crackdown on a medical marijuana operation based in Lake Elsinore.
The address was not released by the Drug Enforcement Administration, but it was the home of Ernest Acosta, the head of Compassionate Patients Association at 17504 Grand Ave. in Lakeland Village.
R Side Medical at 31760 Casino Dr. in Lake Elsinore was also searched in the operation, which started at 8 a.m. Wednesday and included the search of both stores and Acosta's home, said Sarah Pullen of the DEA.
In all three investigations, marijuana was seized from the locations, and surveillance cameras and alarms were cut off at the Lake Elsinore and Lakeland Village locations, but there were no arrests made, no records seized and no computers taken, according to and Compassionate Patients Association head Acosta.
Acosta's home was the third location raided yesterday.
Drug Enforcement Agency spokeswoman Sarah Pullen confirmed no arrests have been made as a result of Wednesday's raids, but marijuana was seized. At Compassionate Patients Association, 167 marijuana plants, 10.7 kilos of processed marijuana and 125 kilos of marijuana-laced edibles were seized; at Acosta's residence, 201 grams of marijuana were taken, she said.
At R Side Medical, 45 marijuana plants, 2.3 kilograms of processed marijuana and 41.2 kilograms of marijuana-laced edibles were seized, Pullen said.
The recent raids are “very disconcerting” for Acosta, who said he had been operating Compassionate Patients Association for nearly two years.
He said he has an attorney and together they are reviewing next steps.
“My first priority now is to reach out to my members,” he said, noting that of his 2,000-person membership, he is very concerned about those who are terminally ill and/or rely on cannabis to ease pain.
“I want to make sure they get their medication and I am looking at alternate distributors for them,” he said.
For Carlos Stahl, he said he is not giving up the fight. Wednesday’s search was the sixth raid he has experienced, he said.
A Purple Heart Vietnam Veteran who claims he doesn’t have a criminal record – a statement backed up by Riverside County court records – Stahl said, “I am a Marine. I fought for this country. I will continue the fight for what is right.”
Stahl believes law enforcement is blatantly disregarding what California voters have put in place. He said police are using fear and intimidation tactics – instead of the courts – to eradicate what he believes is a legal industry under state law.
“When we have to fear the police, there’s something wrong in this country,” he said.
Stahl said he has talked to his lawyer about fighting to get his seized property returned but was advised the battle would be too costly.
“It’s all a game,” Stahl said. “They (police) are the ones breaking the law.
Wednesday’s incidents aren’t unusual these days. Over recent months, law enforcement has worked to shutter medical marijuana operations countywide. Lthat also saw a federal search warrant served at Cooperative Patients' Services located at 43122 Via Dos Picos in Temecula.
The two facilities were founded by Doug Lanphere, who said he stepped down in June 2011 as an active director of the 3,000-member medical marijuana cooperative.
While marijuana was taken from the two facilities last month by law enforcement, Lanphere was never arrested.
Commenting today about the R Side Medical and Compassionate Patients Association raids, Lanphere said, “We have no rights.”
Medical marijuana operators and local law enforcement have been walking a fine line when it comes pot. Under California’s medical marijuana law, cannabis is legal when Ts are crossed and Is are dotted. All those interviewed for this article insist they have followed the letter of state law.
However, as a federal agency, the DEA doesn’t recognize California’s law: Marijuana is illegal under federal law.
The legal conflict has given cities and counties leeway in shutting down medical marijuana operations. , which confirmed that local jurisdictions can ban medical marijuana operations, has given authorities even more momentum, and a sweeping effort to shutter
In the meantime but it will likely be years before rulings are issued.
Currently, under county code, marijuana “storefronts” or dispensaries are banned from operation. Otherwise, the county code follows state law in that cannabis can be used for medical purposes under strict guidelines. Many of the city ordinances follow the county code.