“My husband and I were just volunteering that day,” said Marla James, Sky High Holistic volunteer, as she recalls the controversial Santa Ana dispensary raid that took place on May 26, 2015. With the existing video surveillance of the police eating edibles and making abusive comments about James, a disabled activist who uses a wheelchair, during the invasion, Sky High Holistic has now filed both state and federal lawsuits against the city of Santa Ana, with James as the plaintiff.
According to the LA Times, the lawsuit accuses Santa Ana police of excessive force. “They came in looking like something out of a war movie,” James said. “Just from that experience alone, I developed PTSD.” she said. The suit also claims that Santa Ana Mayor, Miguel Pulido, has taken bribes and provided favorable treatment for lottery-winning collectives. Because Sky High Holistic didn’t participate in the lottery, James explains, the Mayor retaliated against it by directing police officers to raid the collective. (The city says that Sky High and other dispensaries that were operating before last year’s lottery took place are doing so in violation of a city ban on pot clubs).
What happened last May, in James’s view, was a complete and utter stomping of her constitutional rights. “I had asked [the officers] to show me a search warrant for breaking down our door and coming in with guns drawn a couple of times,” she said. “They never did.” After the police escorted everyone in the collective outside, they demanded that James sign a ticket. But when James, who is legally blind, expressed to the officer that she can’t read, a female cop allegedly responded, “Well you made it outside in your wheelchair,” and proceeded to force James to sign the ticket. “It was the first time in my entire life that I felt really handicapped,” James said.
It was shortly after the cop forced James to sign the ticket that the cops went back into the collective and were caught on camera eating marijuana chocolate and making comments about wanting to kick James, who is an amputee and only mobile via wheelchair. “I’m looking forward to sharing that with the judge,” she said.
Not surprisingly, the city of Santa Ana and Sky High Holistic have maintained a tumultuous relationship since the infamous raid last May. The collective was raided once more last October, for example, ultimately forcing the facility to shut down, although the dispensary is now operating again. The first evidentiary hearing in the case takes place on January 28 at the Santa Ana Courthouse.