On the afternoon of Feb. 3, Long Beach's leafy Bluff Park neighborhood resembled a major crime scene. Police cruisers with flashing lights idled near the intersection of Temple Avenue and Broadway Boulevard, while undercover backup units parked on side streets. Asked about all the activity by a reporter who happened by his vehicle, an officer on the scene remarked that the police were busy carrying out a "narco operation."
But despite the ominous verbiage, the perps weren't exactly dangerous criminals. Instead, they were proprietors of the One Love Beach Club, a family-run cannabis collective that had been operating openly, if quietly, in the city for years. Police raided One Love after a detective provided the club with a doctor's note as well as a driver's license and proof of city residency. The sting operation—if you can call it that—flies in the face of state law, which allows cannabis clubs to provide marijuana to patients with a physician's note.
After the club sent one of its drivers to deliver the cannabis, police pulled over the vehicle, impounded it and arrested the driver before bashing down the dispensary's door with a battering ram. "They could have knocked on the door, but they had just started using the battering ram and wanted to see how it worked," said One Love's owner, Jeff Abrams, who was out on a delivery when the raid took place but whose two adult sons were detained inside the shop. "They were right there with the key, but they smashed it in, and they were giddy about how well the battering ram worked."
Although the police claim to have confiscated 600 marijuana plants, Abrams says that, in reality, only one-tenth of the plants were flowering. "They took 59 mature plants and 60 mother plants that never flower," Abrams explained. "The rest were 512 clones that we sell to people so they can grow their own cannabis and stay out of harm's way of the Long Beach narcotics division."
Susan Soares has written for Cannabis Now Magazine, Alternet, and Sensi Magazine.