A Vallejo couple is suing the city, alleging their medical marijuana dispensary was targeted with illegal police raids, surveillance and political retaliation.
Daniel and Rhonda Chadwick operated Homegrown Holistic Cooperative Inc. in Vallejo until it was shut down by police in August 2012. Theirs was one of several dispensaries raided last year, but like the others, their case fell apart when it became clear the bankrupt city hadn’t followed the law.
“City officials calculated costs and strategically decided that it would be too expensive to deal with regulating medical cannabis dispensaries in a legal, civil manner and instead had the Vallejo Police Department conduct unlawful raids by officers uniformed in full SWAT gear . . . to harass, threaten, intimidate, oppress and otherwise humiliate the plaintiffs,” San Francisco lawyer Jennifer Nicoletto wrote in the complaint filed Oct. 24.
The Chadwicks allege they were targeted for political retaliation after Daniel Chadwick complained about the illegal raids at a City Council meeting in May 2012. When the Homegrown Holistic Cooperative was raided on Aug. 10, 2012, the Chadwicks were presented with a search warrant that had been dated the day of the council meeting; that date was scratched out and replaced with Aug. 9, 2012.
“Plaintiffs were targeted to be surveilled and entrapped based on Daniel Chadwick’s documented public comment in exercising his right to free speech,” Nicolette wrote.
The lawsuit alleges the city employed a “large-scale surveillance operation” to “entrap, oppress, and eliminate several cannabis dispensaries in the city.” It claims the raids were illegal because the probable cause used to justify the search warrants was “intentionally misleading, and judicially deceptive.” And it says Vallejo used “oppressive tactics and excessive force to illegally raid several cannabis collectives (including plaintiffs’) within the city.”
The City of Vallejo has been engaged in a high-profile war with its dispensaries for the last few years. City officials enacted a moratorium on new pot shops earlier this year, after the busts of 2012 failed, but repeated efforts to do away with the businesses have come up short.
Among the shops shuttered by the raids last year was the dispensary run by Matt Shotwell, who was featured on the Discovery Channel’s documentary Weed Country. After Shotwell’s prosecution fell apart, a court ordered police to return all the pot that had been confiscated from his dispensary, though most of it had gone bad.