Sweep Of Raids On Marijuana Retail Establishments

Contributed by Tina Smith, MVCBA President

Recently, AMCO did a massive sweep of raids on marijuana retail licensees looking for one type of product only. The culprits being CBD products, specifically.  

I was informed of the raids by Bailey Stuart, one of the owners of Green Jar, near Wasilla.  She said her store had just been raided by the MCB and all CBD products were seized.  

She said that one of the enforcement officers told her that it all started at the US Postal Office. It would seem that a shipment of CBD products broke open at the post office. Of course, being an independent branch of the federal government they called in enforcement.  

The story goes that the MCB were notified by the postal service of illegal substances being mailed through the US Mail, the attorney with the MCB then decided that anything CBD related is to be included under the definition of marijuana as defined in AS 17.38.900(7) which states that marijuana means all parts of the plant of the genus cannabis whether growing or not, the seeds, the resin extracted from any part of the plant and every compound, manufacture, salt derivative, mixture or preparations of the plant, its seeds, or its resin including marijuana concentrate

3 AAC 306.900 of the regulations of marijuana under definitions and says very close to the same thing.

Now I do understand with further research where this would be considered in violation by some. I also understand that the MCB’s director and enforcement agents are able to exercise the enforcement powers of a peace officer when marijuana product isn't logged into the inventory tracking system, or if it isn't packaged by regulations. However, acting in capacity of peace officers they are subject to follow the procedures and statutes of peace officers. 

These procedures which are set out in Alaska Statute and would include AS 17.30.114 and AS 12.35.025 which both cover procedure for seizure of property. Bailey claimed they neither showed her a warrant, court order or even a supporting affidavit. Neither was she given a receipt of property taken.

AS 17.30.114. Seizure and Custody of Property.

(a)(3) There is probable cause that the property was used, is being used or is intended for use, in violation of this chapter or AS 11.71 and the property is easily movable; property seized under this paragraph may not be held for more than 48 hours without a court order obtained to continue its detention.

(b)(1) Place the property under seal.
(b)(2) Remove the property to a place designated by the court; (Items from Green Jar were just placed in an open box and put in the back of a car).

AS 12.35.025. Seizure of Property.

(b) When property is seized under this chapter, the peace officer taking the property shall give to the person from whom or from whose premises the property was taken a copy of the warrant, a copy of the supporting affidavit and a receipt for the property taken, or shall leave the copies and the receipt at the place from which the property was taken.

It seems as if a few steps may have been ignored in this massive sweep of raids, maybe a bit of jumping the gun. I’m not a lawyer, but this seems very clear even to me.

Kerby Coman, owner of Green Degree on KGB shared that, “Today was the most bittersweet day of my life!” His final inspection was last week, everything seemed perfect. The MCB enforcement came to visit him and gave him his new cultivation license, a reason to celebrate in most cases. However this time, the very next thing the agents did was inform Kerby that he was being served with a notice of violation, his CBD products were being seized. While this was taking place, at least six customers were turned away for the CBD products that gives them real relief. These are products that treat inflammation, anxiety and seizures with no psychoactive effects. 

The only shop that I spoke to that didn't get raided was Enlighten Alaska in Anchorage. Leah Levington, one of the owners, suspects it was only because they were closed today. Lucky scheduling for them. This could cost the industry upwards of $100,000.00 minimum if my calculations are correct. I hope it doesn’t cause some businesses to have to close their doors.

I’m very interested to see what happens next regarding the CBD products that are currently being offered at a multitude of average retail stores across the state. I’m interested in what might come of the MCB staff not following Alaska state statutes regrading search and seizures? Some may even call them Snatch and Grabs when these “seizures” are done without due process. Is this the type of actions we can expect in the future from the MCB staff?