DEA Raid On Upland Marijuana Clinic Overshadows City’s $440 K Legal Effort

The Drug Enforcement Administration this week accomplished what the city of Upland’s expenditure of over $440,000 in legal fees over the last two-and-a-half years could not when officials raided the G3 Holistics medical marijuana clinic at 1710 W. Foothill Boulevard in this city of 73,732.
The DEA agents, accompanied by San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies, carted off roughly 25 pounds of marijuana and 89 pounds of cannabis-laced foodstuffs, effectively drawing operations at the facility to a close.
No arrests were made during the raid, though at least four customers were briefly detained, including being handcuffed while they were being questioned. At least two employees were also questioned.
The DEA agents seized customer records, the contents of an office safe, security videotaping equipment, along with the recording software from an on-premises automatic teller machine.
Aaron Sandusky, the owner of G3 Holistics, said the raid was a “terrorist tactic” aimed at warding off his customers and destroying his business.
After G3 Holistics began operating in Upland in 2009, the city acted to directly prevent it from operating, employing zoning restrictions and seeking to obtain court orders to force its closure. Meanwhile, Sandusky, through his attorney Roger Diamond, posited legal arguments that such clinics are legal under state law. The city succeeded in temporarily closing down the G3 Collective in August 2010 after the city filed an injunction in West Valley Superior Court in Rancho Cucamonga, but that injunction was stayed by Sandusky’s appeal of the city’s blanket prohibition of medical marijuana dispensaries. On November 9, 2011 the Fourth District Court of Appeals in Riverside ruled that Upland’s banning of clinics did not contradict Proposition 215, the 1996 law that approved medical marijuana in the state, but Sandusky appealed that ruling to the state Supreme Court. The G3 Holistics operation in Upland closed down after the Drug Enforcement Agency raided the club on November 1, 2011. Sandusky, on Diamond’s advice, reopened the collective on December 30 on the theory that a stay was in effect while the case is pending before the State Supreme Court.
State law is far more permissive than federal law with regard to marijuana and it is widely perceived that the city’s legal efforts against the clinic, which had previously failed to shutter the operation, has been superfluous as the federal government, in the form of the Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, is now taking steps against such operations throughout the state, including this week’s operation and the November raid of the G3 clinic in Upland. Drug Enforcement Agency officers told Sandusky in January that he is in violation of federal law. Given the evidence collected against the operation by the agents in November and this week, federal charges may or may not be filed against Sandusky and his employees.
Upland councilman Gino Filippi told the Sentinel, “The California Supreme Court deems the issue of the operation of medical marijuana dispensaries in the City of Upland, as well as other neighboring cities, to be a significant issue to resolve. I have and currently support our city’s direction and the laws as it applies to medical marijuana dispensaries. While I also understand the arguments and facts presented by those who support the need for medicinal marijuana, the city has made it clear that medical marijuana dispensaries are not a permitted or allowed use.
“I remain concerned with the amount of financial resources and attorney’s fees the city of Upland continues to incur in dealing with medical marijuana dispensaries operating in the city, when our general funds are needed for the operation of general services that the city provides to our citizens,” Filippi continued. “The city has paid approximately $500,000 in legal costs on the medical marijuana issue alone. As I have been saying for months, it does not make sense to me to keep spending. As to any issue regarding the stay of enforcement with the city’s prior injunction prohibiting medical marijuana dispensaries, I look forward to the California Supreme Court’s ultimate decision in this matter.”

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