DEA Raids Another Marijuana Club
September 15th, 2002
For the second time in a week, federal agents on Thursday raided a Bay Area medical marijuana facility that was operating under California's 1996 law.
The Sonoma County club's founder was taken into custody and an estimated 2,800 plants were seized.
Ryan Bonelli, CEO of the Genesis 1:29 medical marijuana club, said Drug Enforcement Administration agents appeared early Thursday morning at the club's six-acre farm near Sebastopol; a dispensary office on Southpoint Boulevard in Petaluma was raided as well.
"They rushed in the doors; they got everybody detained; they were all carrying big automatic assault rifles," he said. "They had us in handcuffs for hours; they wouldn't allow us to eat; they wouldn't allow us to use the bathroom."
About 2,800 plants were seized from the farm, Bonelli said, and "they took everything from the office, all the cannabis, all our computers and files they basically shut us down with no reasoning. Now 1,200 to 1,400 people will have to go to the streets to find cannabis."
Bonelli said his father, Genesis 1:29 founder Robert G. Schmidt, 52, was taken into custody: "They won't give me any information on him."
DEA spokesman Special Agent Richard Meyer referred all questions to Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Jacobs, who said no information would be released Thursday.
The federal government deems all marijuana growth, possession or use illegal, even though California voters approved medical use in 1996. Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Oregon and Washington have similar laws.
Bonelli on Thursday claimed Genesis 1:29 has filed forms to be officially permitted by the DEA to grow marijuana for research purposes, but its paperwork expired Wednesday, hours before the raid. Bonelli said his renewal application was sent to the DEA via overnight mail on Aug. 31.
Exactly one week before this raid, almost to the hour, DEA agents raided the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana near Santa Cruz, about 60 miles south of San Francisco. WAMM co-founders Val and Mike Corral who helped author California's medical marijuana law were arrested but released the same day when prosecutors declined to file charges; the DEA has said the 167 plants seized in that raid were destroyed.
Just as that raid inspired protests, Steph Sherer, director of Berkeley-based Americans For Safe Access, said Thursday that medical marijuana advocates across the nation are being told to stage protests outside their jurisdictions' federal buildings at noon Monday.
California Attorney General Bill Lockyer wrote an angry letter to federal officials after the Santa Cruz raid, asking them to back off and meet with him to avoid similar raids in the future. Lockyer's office declined comment on the Sonoma County raids Thursday night, saying it didn't have enough information yet.
Genesis 1:29 is named for the Bible passage which reads, "And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat."