California NORML Release, Aug 31 2006
Yesterday’s DEA raid at Trichome Healing Center in Van Nuys
ended in a stand-down. No arrests were made. An undercover DEA team
arrived without a warrant. One agent tried to gain entry with a bad ID,
but was turned down. The agent blew his cool, a security guard saw his
gun and thought he was a robber; a scuffle broke out, and other agents
came to the rescue. After several hours, the DEA procured a warrant
from a local judge. The DEA left the scene after midnight, but not
before calling in a professional safecracker to clean out the premises.
In the meantime, patient advocates were on hand protesting. Degee
Coutee called an LAPD operator, who appeared unaware of the raid. LAPD
arrived and reassured the crowd that they had a right to protest and
Aside from its comic incompetence, this raid raises troubling
questions. For the past couple of years, it has typically been DEA
policy not to raid medical marijuana dispensaries without support from
the local police. The exception has been when a particular DEA
investigation (such as a grow bust) has led them to a dispensary. It is
possible that the DEA were acting in cooperation with rogue elements of
the LAPD, such as the North Hollywood narcotics division, who have
recently been hassling dispensaries. ( There is an unconfirmed rumor
that officer John Smith of NoHO PD may have been present at the raid.)
This could have gone on unbeknownst to the rest of LAPD. It is also
possible that DEA had some particular lead that took them to Trichome
Healing, but it seems doubtful that they would have used a warrantless
undercover investigation of this kind to make the bust.. More
disturbing is the possibility that this could be part of a wider DEA
undercover operation aimed at penetrating and taking down the LA
dispensaries. It would be a departure from recent policy for DEA to do
so without support from local police and without evidence that the
dispensaries are violating Prop. 215. (Note that the DEA were in fact
trying to get Trichome Healing to violate 215 by selling without a valid
Whatever the truth, it is important the LA area residents
organize & respond now to defend patients’ access to medicine. There
will be a public emergency meeting to address the situation at 4 PM this
Saturday, Sept 2 at LA Patients and Caregivers Group, 7213 Santa Monica
Blvd, West Hollywood. Angelenos should call on the city council and
mayor to stop arbitrary police raids and defend safe access by enacting
reasonable city regulations to legally license dispensaries, as in West
Hollywood and LA County.
– D. Gieringer, Cal NORML
PS: In a seemingly unrelated incident, the LAPD raided another patients’
collective in Van Nuys at the same time as the Trichome Healing raid.
Police cleaned out a storage room rented by the After Hours Collective,
which is not a dispensary but a delivery collective serving over 100
patients. Police might have been tipped off by fire inspectors, who had
visited the space earlier and seen some plants growing. Joey Naffah,
director of Trichome Healing, says that he let the inspectors in feeling
that everything was legal and within SB 420 guidelines. After the
police came, they confiscated a score of plants and drilled into the
collective’s safe to remove a few pounds of medicine.
– D. G.
First hand report on the Trichome Raid from Weedtracker:
http://weedtracker.com/forums/showthread.php?p=90576 Thc Raided I Was
There For Part Of It What I understand to have happened before I
In the early afternoon, on Wednesday August 30th, a DEA agent appeared
at THC’s door with a phony ID. THC’s security guard spotted the forgery
and refused entry to the DEA agent.
Realizing this wasn’t going to be as easy as he thought, the officer
spoke the words "Don’t hurt me" into his transmitter. This was
apparently the signal for his fellow agents to follow him in. At no time
was this DEA agent under any threat from THC or its security force, but,
by characterizing his situation as urgent I’m sure he’s provided a
lovely excuse for exigent circumstances, thus justifying the initial
lack of a warrent.
My understanding is that they’ve already put out a press release
claiming an imminent threat to the officer’s safety justified their
actions. They are lying. Hopefully THC’s security system was beaming to
remote locations and they’ve got the fact the officer was never in any
danger right there on the security feed.
The poor receptionist soon found herself facing not one, not two, but
THREE loaded guns pointed at her face, this despite the fact she already
had her hands up and could not possibly have been a threat to anyone’s
Interestingly enough, one of the DEA officers was dressed enough like
THC’s security staff to lure people in. One of the people who got
snagged was a driver for a vendor, who was delivering a shipment of
edibles. This gentleman was hassled, and the edible shipment was seized
by the DEA.
We know this story to be true, because the person who manufactured the
edibles came down and spoke to us about what had happened. Thankfully,
they let the driver go. The guy was pretty brave, he actually requested
the Feds return the edibles to him, which they of course, declined to
To the best of my knowledge, no patients were detained or charged.
However, the alert guard who spotted the forged ID was kept in the
facility from the time the feds arrived until nearly 1 am in the
morning, and we saw no food or water being delivered, so this gentlemen
was given less consideration by his own government then the Geneva
convention would have afforded him if he was a prisoner of war.
My understanding was that he was cuffed during the episode. My god,
could you imagine being in handcuffs for eleven hours? He must have been
Degee got the call at CPG and started rallying the troops. Ana and
Degee were already there when I arrived in the late afternoon. ASA put
out an alert and Weedtracker picked it up. People began arriving, at the
height I think there must have been at least fifty people.
What Happened After I Arrived:
Several dispensary owners closed immediately and brought their staffs.
Alert participants, realizing it was the dinner hour went and got dinner
for everyone and water and chips circulated. One gentleman arrived in a
huge pickup truck with a couch in the back. Anyone who needed to rest
had a couch they could use.
Whenever the DEA poked their noses out of the door, we immediately
began chanting and demonstrating. Because there were back and front
entrances, people split into two groups watching both exits carefully.
Photos were taken of DEA vehicles and the officers.
As patients arrived we explained what was going on and asked them to
post on Weedtracker, so others would know not to come down if they were
looking for medicine.
The media was out in force, and stayed with us for much of the time.
One station did a live remote with all of us standing in the background.
Much love to NBC, Fox and the gentlemen filming a documentary for
sharing OUR side of the story.
As the evening wore on a van arrived, containing several gentlemen. As
it was obvious they were there to aid the DEA, we peacefully surrounded
the van and began chanting, holding up our signs. They decided it might
be expeditious to leave and did so. Boy, did THAT cheer us up.
Shortly thereafter, the local constables arrived, went upstairs and
spoke with the DEA. We asked as many questions of the police as we
could, they were not very forthcoming, but did inform us we had the
right to protest. More men in blue arrived, but other than forcing us to
stay behind a police tape they were pretty polite.
More time passed. Another vehicle arrived with more DEA helpers. This
time, as our local men and blue were present, we were not able to
surround the car. My understanding was that they were needed to crack
open the safe.
We waited and watched. At last the back door opened to the dispensary
and the agents began loading cardboard boxes into the bevy of cars
they’d brought with them, I believe Ana counted no less than eight cars.
The police herded us as far away as they could, Degee and Ana really got
in their faces about this, but it was either move or be arrested, the
police explained to us, so we moved.
But fear not, our voices were heard. "Theif!" we screamed. "Robbers!"
"How does it feel to steal medicine from sick people? Your mother must
be SO proud." Other less restrained remarks were also uttered.
They left as quickly as they could, no doubt because it was after
midnight and they wanted to leave as badly as the rest of us. The good
news is that they didn’t arrest the guards. These gentlemen, after being
detained for what, twelve hours? then went about their business,
securing the premises as best they could. We all crowded around the
front door and gave them some love, they are the real heros of this
Please everyone, there will be an emergency meeting on Saturday to
discuss what we can do to stop the DEA. It will be held at CPG beginning
at 4 pm. If you are not a member of CPG just tell the guard at the door
that you’re there for the meeting. Dispensary owners, please come, if
you cannot, please designate someone on your staff to attend and serve
as your representative. Patients, if you can possibly attend, please
The DEA has begun closing us down. We must all hang together now, or
surely, we will hang separately.
It’s 3am now, I’m dead tired and hurt. Please forgive the grammar and
spelling, the words are blurring on the page.