They didn't take money or marijuana–they took people. On the afternoon of July 31, and well into the evening, Santa Ana Police Department raided ("attacked," according to some) dispensaries, detaining and processing approximately 80 dispensary owners, employees, and medical marijuana patients. They were taken via paddy wagon to the county jail.
See Also: Santa Ana Pot Crackdown Begins Anew
That afternoon at around 2 p.m., Mike and Scott (who asked to be identified only by their first names) were in Aloha CCA, a nondescript dispensary holed away in a professional building on 17th St. They were startled by approximately 15 policemen who came in to detain all parties present. The police proceeded to cuff everyone, informing them that they would be processed and fingerprinted for a municipal code violation that they equated to a traffic ticket.
Upon arriving at the jail, Mike and Scott were placed, alongside many other detainees, in a holding cell. Like most holding cells, it was small: a posted maximum occupancy of 8 was on the wall. Both men have told the Weekly that there were at least 20 and as many as 40 people cramped within this cell. Mike went in without a fuss, although his heart condition was reportedly ignored by the officers. Scott has a history of claustrophobia, and voiced this to the officer. She proceeded to place him in an isolated cell.
"The officer in charge of the floor…was trying to stuff us into a room that had maximum occupancy of 8 labeled on the door," recounted Scott. "And it was, like, 20 people in there. And I said, you know, "I'm not comfortable going in there because the occupancy is lower than what you already have in there. And I have an issue with claustrophobia." And she goes, "that's cool," and she threw me in a cell and I was locked in the cell for eight fuckin' hours. By myself."
The Santa Ana City Council recently voted to give the police department $500,000 in order to shut down the present cadre of dab bars and other illegally operating dispensaries. This move was denounced by activists and politicians alike: the methodology used to determine the locations to target was inconsistent, with one lawyer pointedly remarking that the city is simply wasting money by proceeding this way.
"Although you're not an insurance company, perhaps the Chief needs to up his estimate on what your enforcement costs are going to be here. When you estimate the litigation and potential judgment costs the City will have here, the estimates should be multiplied by at least five," wrote Matt Pappas in a letter to City Attorney Sonia Carvalho. Although we at the Weekly cannot comment on the accuracy of this estimate, the city that only three years ago dodged the bankruptcy bullet is currently coasting on a $29.5 million surplus.
"We think the reason is, the new ordinance that's going to be in place probably, states that you can't have a criminal record and get a license [to operate a dispensary]. So they're just making sure that everybody that's operating right now has a criminal record," postulated Susan Soares, a member of nonprofit group CARE.
According to Scott, the officers involved behaved rather questionably throughout the ordeal. "They did not Miranda anyone. Not one person was read their rights. Even though, according to the law, Miranda doesn't have to happen for the action that took place. However, we were also not very well told other than "oh, you're being cited for a municipal code violation, we're going to book and release you." They would avoid everything you would ask them. Like, "am I being detained?" and they would respond, "well yes, you're being detained." "Am I being placed under arrest?" "Sir, turn around," recalled Scott.
"We're really disappointed in the way that Santa Ana is behaving. When each of them [the city council] took office, we need to remind them that they did take an oath. They did vow to uphold the Constitution of California and the Constitution of the United States of America. And part of the constitution is the 4th Amendment, which is unreasonable search and seizure. So they really need to bone up on their constitution. They did promise, and they have now breached a promise to the people that they serve," a patient advocate, Marla, told the Weekly.
"Michelle [Martinez] is now pointing the finger at the Santa Ana police as they're the ones doing wrong, yet she's the one that told them to go do it," Mike complained.
The upcoming city council meeting on August 5th will be eventful, to say the least. Stay tuned!