Lake Tahoe-area medical cannabis dispensary Tahoe Wellness Cooperative was raided by law enforcement on Monday. All cash, cannabis, and medical records on site were seized, but no charges have been filed.
Initial reports suggested federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents were involved, but this wasn't a Justice Department bust. It was all El Dorado County Sheriff's deputies — with whom Tahoe Wellness Cooperative founder Cody Bass has a history.
In late May, El Dorado sheriff's deputy Mark Zlendick was arrested on methamphetamine possession and trafficking charges. Zlendick is a member of the South Lake Tahoe Narcotics Enforcement Team, which polices/raids/makes life miserable for medical marijuana. Zlendick has posted bail and is on paid leave while his case is sorted out.
Incensed at what he felt was light treatment, Bass organized a turnout for the next supervisors meeting to speak out against Zlendick. The meeting was Tuesday. On Monday, Bass was raided. Coincidence?
[jump] Zlendick, who's been a deputy since 2004, was arrested after authorities in Douglas County, Nevada, responded to his home on a domestic violence call on May 20.
He was booked on charges of “trafficking methamphetamine, suspicion of possession of a controlled substance, conspiracy, and possession of paraphernalia,” according to authorities, and posted bail of $55,640.
Marijuana advocates predictably crowed, and demanded harsher treatment than paid leave and bail.
Bass told the Tahoe Daily Tribune that it was no coincidence that he was raided the day before he planned to bring the Zlendick issue before local elected officials.
In typical style, police smashed a full-length front window in order to gain access to the dispensary rather than using the front door.
“It's pretty vindictive to do this,” Bass told the newspaper.
As for the raid, it's not yet known what sheriff's deputies were looking for or exactly what they seized. Henry Wykowski, the dispensary's attorney, told SF Weekly on Tuesday that the search warrant has yet to be released, and that deputies have only said that a “criminal investigation” is “ongoing.”
“We're in the dark as to why this occurred,” said Wykowski, who added that “I'm quite surprised any judge authorized the seizure of medical cannabis from a dispensary.. I question whether the judge was told this was a licensed medical cannabis dispensary.”
Tahoe Wellness closed briefly on Monday, but was open for business again Tuesday — thought it opened late, following the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors meeting.
The dispensary has a business license from the City of South Lake Tahoe.
Representatives from the state Franchise Tax Board also participated in the raid.