More details are emerging this afternoon, following yesterday’s joint operations by Santa Barbara Police and Santa Barbara County Sheriffs against a number of medical marijuana dispensaries that were allegedly operating illegally. Throughout the day on Wednesday, February 17, authorities served search warrants at two dispensaries within Santa Barbara City limits—one in Goleta, one in Summerland—and several residences linked to the operations. By the end of the day, more than 12,000 marijuana plants had been seized (varying in size from seedlings to fully mature 5 footers), over a hundred pounds of consumer-ready marijuana had been confiscated, ten arrests had been made, and the amount of cash seized or assets frozen amounted to tens of thousands of dollars.
“It is not our goal to shut these places down,” said police spokesperson Paul McCaffrey, “but it is our job to uphold the law. … These dispensaries were operating as illegal marijuana dealers, despite the argument that they sometimes operated as legally required and intended.” Specifically, according to McCaffrey, the bulk of the allegedly illegal activities surrounding yesterday’s arrests pertain to the clubs not operating as nonprofits, and the manner in which they obtain their cannabis products.
Search warrants were served at: The Healing Center on San Andres Street; Pacific Coast Collective on Milpas Street (one of only two officially permitted operations within Santa Barbara city limits); a club on the 2100 block of Ortega Hill in Summerland; and another club on the 5800 block of Gaviota Street in Goleta.
The owner of The Healing Center, Juan Carlos Solis, age 32, was booked for cultivation, possession of marijuana for sale, and criminal conspiracy, as was Sinthia Alba Martinez, age 24, also of the Healing Center. Jeffrey Restivo, age 31, owner of the Pacific Coast Collective, was charged with cultivation and possession for sales of marijuana. All of these charges are felonies.
Santa Barbara Sheriffs arrested Summerland club owner Diane Norman and employee Edward Diamond for possession with the intent to sell and conspiracy. In Goleta, club employees Jacob Rosner and Jason Jones were arrested for selling, and club owner David Macfarlene (picked up a short time later in Ventura) has been charged with “financial crimes,” according to Sheriffs’ spokesperson Drew Sugars.
In addition, the search warrants served in Summerland and Goleta netted four individuals who allegedly sold cannabis to the clubs, traveling from outside of Santa Barbara County to do so.