marijuana leaves
Marijuana Leaves. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

An East County man accused of running an illegal marijuana dispensary in Casa de Oro in defiance of authorities’ efforts to close it down pleaded not guilty Friday to felony charges of maintaining a drug house.

Steve Tooma, 35, was ordered held on $150,000 bail. He faces three years in local prison if convicted.

Sheriff’s deputies took Tooma into custody about 7 a.m. Wednesday while serving a search warrant at his home in the 1300 block of Windridge Drive in an unincorporated area near El Cajon.

Detectives seized paperwork and computer equipment related to Spring Valley Greens, the cannabis business Tooma allegedly runs in the Casa de Oro area, Sgt. Matt Cook said.

Tooma denied operating the dispensary, claiming he only owns a next-door smoke shop, according to Cook.

In mid-July, authorities raided Spring Valley Greens, also known as the Wax Room, arresting two employees and seizing marijuana, cannabis-infused edible products, a pistol and more than $10,000 in cash, according to sheriff’s officials.

That operation resulted from “numerous” complaints from the public about the allegedly illegal dispensary, which has remained in operation despite the enforcement actions against it, Cook said.

Tooma will be back in court Monday for a bail review. A preliminary hearing was set for Oct. 5.

—City News Service

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