Properties held by AbsoluteXtracts and Care By Design were raided in Santa Rosa today by local law enforcement, with Drug Enforcement Administration agents observing.
According to reports from the Press Democrat, Sonoma County law enforcement agencies led a series of raids focused on cannabis extraction facilities, and at least nine people were detained. The police visits occurred at a business park on Circadian Way off Corporate Center Parkway.
Care By Design spokespeople confirmed the raids hit AbsoluteXtracts and Care By Design properties in Santa Rosa. The Sonoma County Sheriff has not issued any statements about the nature of the raid. Local lobbying group the Sonoma County Grower’s Alliance plans to lead a response to the actions.
“Care By Design has worked tirelessly over the past year to ensure that all of our facilities, employees, company policies and procedures are in compliance with city, county and state laws. We have planned for this type of situation and are fully confident in our ability to resolve this matter expeditiously with minimal disruption to the business. We hope to resolve this before it affects our thousands of patients throughout California,” a Care By Design spokesperson stated.
California regulated medical marijuana in black and white last year, but with rules set to take effect by 2018, there’s plenty of gray area at the local level.
The area, and Sonoma County in general, is a hotbed of cannabis extraction due to local expertise and access to prime sources of raw cannabis. The vast majority of California cities and counties have not yet regulated the industrial activity.
Care By Design and AbsoluteXtracts are award-winning makers of precision-dosed extracts in oral and inhalable forms. In 2015, they were product partners in the world’s largest medical cannabis competition, The Emerald Cup.
The sweeping hash lab raids fit a statewide pattern of local takedowns — on either the biggest farms or the biggest extractors — including the Med-West sweep in Southern California, and recent 3,000-plant grow in a Santa Rosa. CA. front yard.
“It’s low-hanging fruit,” said an ASA spokesperson Terry Best.
No arrests in the Care By Design raids have been reported, she said.
[Update: 10 a.m. June 16]
Care By Design founding member Dennis Hunter was arrested and is being held in Sonoma County Jail on a $5 million bond, the company states.
“As a company we are incredibly surprised that these actions have been taken against our organization, as we have gone above and beyond to ensure we operate in compliance with all local and State laws regarding medical cannabis,” stated Care By Design Spokesperson Nick Caston. “The decision to handle regulatory compliance questions with criminal enforcement actions and the arrest of CBD team members is incredibly disturbing. At the exact time State regulators are asking for cannabis providers across the State to license and register their cannabis businesses, for the government to use these types of enforcement actions against an organization that has made every effort to be transparent and forthcoming sends a terrible message to those attempting to do the right thing.”
The company states deputies arrested Hunter and charged him with felony manufacturing of a controlled substance by chemical extraction (a law created for meth labs).
The organization, their supporters, and local medical cannabis advocacy groups are organizing a press conference and rally of support on Thursday, June 16th at 11 a.m. at the courtyard area of the Sonoma County Superior Courthouse “to raise awareness for this injustice and to inform the community of the facts regarding the company and their professional operations. They are asking for all patients, providers, and supporters of medical cannabis to join them in voicing their concerns about this wasteful and unnecessary enforcement action by the DEA and local authorities, and stand with them in solidarity to end these types of actions once and for all. Overzealous enforcement against compliant and accountable medical cannabis providers, such as Care By Design, have no place in our society.”