Under siege

Ngaio Bealum is a Sacramento comedian, activist and marijuana expert. Email him questions at ask420@newsreview.com.

Hey, what’s all this about a company in Santa Rosa getting raided? I thought raids were a thing of the past?

—Lou Kout

Sigh. You heard right. The CBD Guild (the company behind the brands Absolute Xtracts and Care By Design pills and tinctures) in Santa Rosa, was raided last week. According to reports, a disgruntled former employee went to the police and accused CBD Guild of making butane hash oil and concentrates. Using butane or other volatile solvent to make hash is illegal in California, although possessing or selling butane extracted marijuana concentrates is not illegal.

The police, the sheriff and a few DEA agents—I am not sure why the DEA was there, as federal law is supposed to keep the DEA from interfering with law-abiding cannabis collectives—raided six different locations, seized equipment and money and arrested Dennis Hunter, the head of the company. Hunter was charged with illegal manufacture of drugs and a few other things. His bail was set at $5 million. Lo and behold, one day later, Hunter was released from jail and all the charges were dropped. Turns out the cops had bad info. Surprise. CBD Guild wasn’t making butane hash; it uses carbon dioxide to make its concentrates. Not only that, CBD Guild had been working with Santa Rosa officials to set up guidelines and regulations about hash-making. This whole thing really makes the cops look bad.

And while it is great that no one will face charges, CBD Guild just lost a bunch of money and had all of its equipment seized. It will take time and more money for the company to get its stuff back. This raid was totally unnecessary.

Kristin Nevedal, Director of Americans for Safe Access’ Patient Focused Certification program, said in a press release: “Violations pertaining to the proper storage of solvents and waste materials associated with the manufacturing of noncannabis based botanical products are not uncommon. However, such violations in the noncannabis botanical sector are enforced through a combination of fines and specified corrective actions. Only in extreme cases would immediate closure of the facility also be required.”

In other words, city officials should have treated their concerns as a civil matter and not a criminal one. How much taxpayer money was wasted on this raid? How many hours did law enforcement spend setting up these raids? All that work, all those man hours, just to have all of the charges dropped. Now that CBD Guild has been shut down (for now), what are their employees supposed to do? File for unemployment? Great. More tax dollars.

The police really need to get it together and embrace the fact that medical cannabis isn’t illegal like it used to be. Sure, there are still some gray areas, but there is no need to be raiding anyone over weed. Ever. I am sure that if they looked hard enough, the cops could find some real criminals (maybe start with bicycle thieves and work your way up from here) to arrest and maybe this time, they can make the charges stick.