Marijuana plants
Marijuana plants. File photo via Wikimedia Commons

Sheriff’s detectives and county personnel raided an illegal marijuana dispensary in Spring Valley as part of an ongoing push to rid the East County community of unlawful cannabis businesses, authorities said Friday.

The latest raid happened about 7:30 p.m. Thursday on Campo Road as part of a new tactic announced by San Diego County officials last week to fight marijuana businesses by enforcing building code requirements, said Sheriff’s Sgt. Matt Cook of the Rancho San Diego substation.

The new approach was needed because businesses would “frequently re open shortly after enforcement action, despite fines and/or criminal prosecution,” Lt. Tom Seiver said last week.

“The county has begun serving illegal dispensaries with 10-day notices, ordering property owners to remove the illegal use,” Seiver said May 10. “If the violation is not removed and enforcement action is taken, the county will continue abatement proceedings and secure the property to ensure the building remains safe.”

County officials said last week that at least three unlawful dispensaries had complied with the order before being abated, and a fourth had already been served and had to comply by this week.

At 7:30 p.m. Thursday, sheriff’s detectives from the Rancho San Diego Crime Suppression Team and county personnel served the latest abatement warrant at SD Best Meds in the 9000 block of Campo Road, Cook said.

“During the execution of the warrant, SD Best Meds was found abandoned and was properly secured by the county,” Cooks said. “Any person found inside the property after tonight will be arrested. Deputies did recover cash from inside the business. No arrests were made and the investigation is ongoing.”

Sheriff’s officials said a series of raids at dispensaries in Spring Valley from mid-2017 to early 2018 did little to stop the businesses from popping up. Serving more than a dozen warrants, sheriff’s deputies seized roughly 7,000 pounds of cannabis products, $85,000 in cash and five firearms, Seiver said.

But the dispensaries kept operating despite the raids — and despite a series of takeover-style armed robberies that were likely connected — prompting officials to take the new abatement approach.

“The county anticipates continued compliance as we enforce the securing of structures without a permitted use,” Cook said.

Recreational cannabis became legal in California on Jan. 1, but city and county governments can still outlaw sales in their jurisdictions. Cannabis sales remain illegal in many cities and unincorporated areas of the county. In cities where it is lawful, businesses must obtain permits and licenses.

–City News Service