In the early morning hours of June 15, 2016, Santa Rosa police and DEA agents raided a major California company that produces various cannabis products. Care By Design (aka the CBD Guild) manufactures popular medical products containing CBD under the Care By Design and AbsoluteXtracts brand names. CBD’s co-founder Dennis Franklin Hunter was taken into custody after the raid and his bail was set at $5 million. Two days later, Hunter was released without charges.
Police were looking for a hash oil lab that uses flammable butane as a solvent. Labs that make butane hash oil are illegal in the state of California. They never found what they were looking for, because Care By Design does not use butane – information that would have been useful to overzealous, militarized police before raiding the CBD Guild’s facilities.
While cannabis activists are calling this a victory for the industry and user rights, I’m not so sure that’s true at all. CBD was raided due to “an employment dispute,” Hunter’s attorney, Joe Rogoway, told SF Weekly. That’s a nice way of saying a former employee falsely accused CBD. Is it really a victory for the cannabis industry when a false accusation from a disgruntled former employee is grounds to invade businesses and steal their property, then jail the owner at set his bail at $5 million? According to SF Weekly, the snitching former employee is attempting to form his own competing company. These are more facts would have been useful for police to take into account before the raid. But who needs facts? Especially when you’re a “soldier fighting in the war against drugs” and your salary depends largely on the continued illegality of cannabis.
Police took cash, cannabis, paperwork, and expensive production machinery, including a unique device used to test pesticides, according to CBD Guild attorney Rogoway.
“They’ve done nothing official that we could find that makes any of this a legitimate operation,” Santa Rosa police Lt. Michael Lazzarini to the Press Democrat. “There’s nothing to indicate that anything here is in line with any regulations in the handling of chemicals or processes, code enforcement, or a city building permit.”
Santa Rosa is in the process of setting local regulations in compliance with California’s Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act, but nothing is currently on the books.
“We produce medicine as determined by the voters in the 1990s, and we do it with the best practices of any company in the state. This law enforcement action is unprecedented, unfortunate, and has the potential to deprive thousands of profoundly sick patients of much needed medicine,” CBD Guild spokesman Nick Caston said in a statement.
Law enforcement agents wore camouflage and Kevlar and pointed guns at various professionals working at the CBD Guild’s offices and production facilities. To say that some increasingly militarized law enforcement agencies are out of control is an understatement. Imagine if a private citizen would have done this. They’d call it what it actually is – an invasion on a legitimate business and an armed robbery, then lock the perpetrator up. In this case, it doesn’t look like any law enforcement agencies will even get a slap on the wrist. No charges have been filed against Hunter, but this is precious time and money he and his business will never get back – all because the DEA performed yet another bogus invasion.