Several prominent medical cannabis companies in California, including concentrate manufacturer Absolute Xtracts and CBD-rich products producer Care By Design, were raided by local law enforcement officers Wednesday morning — DEA agents were in attendance and supervising.
The raid targeted five company properties, all of which had been sharing a location under a cooperative agreement called the CBD Guild, formed together in 2014. According to Nick Caston, spokesman for Care By Design, the CBD Guild produces medicine “as determined by the voters in the 1990s, and we do it with the best practices of any company in the state.”
Law enforcement arrested Dennis Franklin Hunter, one of the organization’s founding members, under suspicion of using illegal and hazardous production methods in the chemical manufacturing of a controlled substance. Hunter — who spent four years evading police before he was caught in 2002 and handed a five year federal prison sentence for an illegal cannabis grow — had bail set at $5 million.
The CBD Guild laboratory is a 34,000-square-foot space in a Santa Rosa business park, on Circadian Way. The companies involved use highly pressurized carbon dioxide extraction devices to create artisan-quality cannabis concentrates. The guild’s focus is on CBD-rich products. According to Caston, together the companies serve dispensary locations in every major California city.
“This law enforcement action is unprecedented, unfortunate, and has the potential to deprive thousands of profoundly sick patients of much needed medicine,” Caston said. “We will cooperate fully with law enforcement in an effort to resolve this as quickly as possible, and hope to have our several dozen employees in Sonoma County back to work this week.”
Joe Rogoway, a Santa Rosa attorney representing the guild, said police had mischaracterized the cannabis companies. “They weren’t using butane, they use a process that includes CO2 which is a flame retardant; CO2 is what’s in fire extinguishers,” Rogoway said. “It’s not criminalized in California law.”
It’s possible, according to Rogoway, that the raids were a result of false claims made to law enforcement by a disgruntled former employee.
Care By Design is hosting a press conference and support rally today at 11:00 a.m. at the Sonoma County Superiour Courthouse in Santa Rosa to raise awareness about the overzealous enforcement act.
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