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City Sued Over Police Marijuana Shop Raids (Watch)

Lawsuit filed this week against Long Beach alleges 100 collectives were raided and seizures made by police of money, weed and property, yet no criminal charges have been filed.

The City of Long Beach has been sued by a group of 11 marijuana dispensary owners who allege that more than 100 police raids of their businesses last year resulted in illegally seized money and property that's not been returned--yet no criminal charges were filed.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court Wednesday, alleges the city violated the civil rights of the business owners with "warrantless searches" by police as a cover story to shut down the shops. It alleges the raids also violated the business owners' 4th amendment right to unreasonable searches.

The situation has attracted attention because one of the raids was caught on surveillance video, time stamped 6/19/12, and was posted on YouTube. (It is posted here). In it, one uniformed officer can be seen looking as if he just discovered the security camera, and some have interpreted the video depicting a suspect being stepped on by an officer as he was handcuffed. Another apparent officer takes a metal pole and smashes another camera, which then goes jumbled.

The Long Beach Police Department was not readily reachable for comment Friday afternoon but announced in July that it was investigating the case.

An online report by KNBC's Jason Kandel Friday said: "The lawsuit alleges that the city engaged in 'oppressive tactics' to try and force out the shops, first by enacting city zoning laws and an illegal lottery issuing permits to some shops. When these tactics failed, the lawsuit said, the city began using more aggressive tactics such as arresting owners and operators for misdemeanor violations of zoning ordinances and then using 'warrantless searches.'”

hf2hvit January 05, 2013 at 02:03 AM
I hope they win
Luis January 05, 2013 at 03:05 PM
Maybe after they took the weed they forgot where they put it. I use to do that.
Watts January 05, 2013 at 05:26 PM
It isn't really clear what they are suing for. Are they simply suing to get back their seized goods and cash? Suing for damages (additional monetary compensation)? Or suing just to level the playing field for all collectives (I have read a lot about the suspicions surrounding the "lottery" process)? Or all of the above?
Dave Newell January 05, 2013 at 06:43 PM
Two states have passed initiaves to legalize marijuana recently. You would think that California would have been the first. The only way it is going to get legalized is for people to realize that it is not a gateway drug to others, as the current opinion seems to be. Given that the federal government turns such a blind eye to illegal immigration, and how many people die each day in the war on drugs, passing legislation to bring in a new taxable commodity would be an easy thing. And on another note, since marijuana laws are federally enforced like immigration, why is local law enforcement allowed to intervene in these cases whereas getting involved in immigration issues are taboo?
Nancy Wride (Editor) January 05, 2013 at 07:46 PM
Watts, I have not reported on the lottery but there has seemed, in other media reports, to have been questions about how the few licensed collectives ''won'' that right. The state and federal conflict seems costly, and I have always wondered why alcohol is not also considered a gateway substance.
Watts January 05, 2013 at 08:17 PM
I always thought that CA would have been, as well, had it not been for the how much money Meg Whitman and Republican special interests (in support of Whitman, more than specifically against prop 19) dumped on her campaign. It wasn't enough to get her elected, but it railed enough of the conservative base to come out so that it killed some propositions that would have otherwise seemed like no brainers for the state of CA. I am sure that if it is on the ballot in two more years, it will pass rather easily.
Nancy Wride (Editor) January 05, 2013 at 08:23 PM
I have read analysis pieces that predict that legalizing pot and gay marriage are a matter of time in California given a majority of younger voters (I think 30 and under) support both. This intuitively seems accurate but do you know otherwise?
Watts January 05, 2013 at 08:33 PM
Does anybody know what they are using "for"? I get what they are suing "about," but I am not understanding what the goal is in the lawsuit. I read the article at the link and it doesn't seem to address what the goal of the lawsuit is, either. I never figured out the whole "gateway" term, either. A gateway is something that people walk through, but I think that most people who use it in terms of marijuana are inferring that there is some sort of inherent propellant effect to it that drives people to other drug use. Like liquor, there are people who will drink it and forever be satisfied with moderate use and that is all. Then there are the "I need a drink" people who drink not just because they like having a couple or maybe the social aspect of the local pub, but who instead use it as a form of escape. For those people who use it for escape, they may very well be inclined to also end up with prescriptions for anxiety, etc. as they similarly provide an "escape." Similarly, there will be people who like to smoke marijuana and will never likely go to other drugs, but then there are those who are looking for an escape and they would be inclined to search out further and maybe more intense "escapes." The alcohol and marijuana do not have a causal relationship to why some people take their escapes further, but these are elements of the individual; both tied to nature (genetics) and nurture (environment).
Watts January 05, 2013 at 08:51 PM
And the only correlation (looking at likelihood of escalation and not actual causality) that I can see for the gateway argument specifically for marijuana, is from the fact that it has been illegal. Let's be honest, anybody who has smoked weed has supported an underground, illegal enterprise frequently removed for many of us by several degrees of friends, roommates, etc., but just a few steps further down the supply chain was always somebody or some group with questionable ethics who's only goal was to make money by breaking the law. So there would always be the "up-sell" aspect to this underground industry where a supplier of one drug could usually cross promote other higher margin and more addicting drugs. So unlike a liquor store, who would prefer that you use their product exclusively and has no benefit if somebody gets a xanax prescription, the illegal drug industry does have a benefit if somebody moves to or includes ecstasy, cocaine, heroin, etc. So if you take marijuana sales above ground and out of the hands of illegal drug dealers, there is a good chance that you would see a reduction in the transference of marijuana smokers to harder drugs. In turn, the combination of loss of revenue from marijuana sales and the following slow down of foot traffic to street dealers, as ironic as it may sound on the surface, but legalizing marijuana could prove to be the most significant step in combating harder drug availability and use in the US.
Watts January 05, 2013 at 09:03 PM
@Nancy I am not sure where the 30 year old figure came from originally, but about 7 years ago I was watching well known conservative Tucker Carlson talking about the legalization of marijuana and said back then that the idea was something that politicians needed to start to open up to because (to paraphrase) you could not find a person in America under the age of 30 who felt that it should be illegal, no matter what their political leanings or status on usage. Even at the time, I was beyond the 30 year range by a decade, but it made total sense. It is an inevitability that (for lack of a more tactful way of putting it) generations die off and such is the voter demographic that supports keeping marijuana illegal, while it is replaced by generations who can't understand why it was ever illegal to begin with. Now as somebody in my mid 40's, I don't see why we can't see the process sped up a bit by state laws changing and pressuring federal law to change, so maybe we can all see some of the benefits of an emerging industry, jobs, tax revenues, etc.; as we currently do see from the liquor industry.
Jeff Findeis January 06, 2013 at 12:41 AM
Prescription drugs and cigarettes are "Gateway" drugs, too
Watts January 06, 2013 at 06:08 AM
Coffee, tea, soda, etc. can all be called gateway drugs all delivering provenly addictive doses of caffeine; if you want to believe in the gateway idea. All of which can be seen as gateways to amphetamines to somebody predisposed to taking it there. But as ridiculous as that sounds, such is the case when I hear people say it about marijuana. Whenever I hear people using this type of 24 hour news cycle short hand, the red flags immediately go up that I am talking to somebody who is dumb as a stump.

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