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Olalla man arrested in medicinal marijuana sting
An Olalla man was arrested on drug charges on Tuesday after detectives with the West Sound Narcotics Enforcement Team (WestNET) served a search warrant to his home.
Two other search warrants were served in Tacoma in connection with an investigation involving the North End Club 420, a medicinal marijuana co-op.
The home of Guy Casey, located on the 13000 block of Olympic Drive, was the main grower of marijuana plants for the group.
In their search, detectives seized more than 70 plants from the home, considerably more than the authorized legal limit of 15 plants.
“This is a group that states they grow for medicinal reasons and not for financial gain,” said Sergeant Carlos Rodriguez. “That isn’t the case. It is a for-profit organization. They’re making money.”
The operation originated from an investigation involving the North End Club 420, whose members describe it as a “medical marijuana dispensary.” Detectives believed the club and others were involved with the illegal manufacture and distribution of marijuana for financial gain.
Club officials claim they accept “donations” for providing marijuana to people with valid medical marijuana authorizations, but the investigation led detectives to suspect that the groups primary incentive was financial greed.
The club’s Web site maintains “We are NOT here to reap incredible financial rewards from the pain and suffering of patients and the legal disadvantages built in to the current legislation. We got together because, as patients, we found we had no one to turn to for help, except one another. The so-called ‘compassion clubs,’ or whatever euphemism is in vogue for bandits charging $20 to $40 a gram for medicine, are no better. They’re mostly a bunch of slick operators who think nothing of the fact that they are picking the pockets of the weakest and most vulnerable people among us. They are just in it for the money they can make or the fame and recognition they can garner.
“We are not any of those things and we won’t ever be,” the Web site claims. “We are simply a group of tired, sick, injured and disgusted patients who feel like we only have each other for support.”
Washington state law allows an authorized possessor 15 plants in any stage of growth and 24 ounces, or one and a half pounds, of prepared product.
It also states if you are a caregiver, you can have up to 30 plants and three pounds of prepared product.
The Washington State Medical Marijuana Act clearly indicates that a person can only be a care provider for one person at any one time and it forbids the sale of marijuana.
“A police operative, who has no medical authorization, was sent in to purchase marijuana,” said Rodriguez. “There was no verification of paperwork or an authorization check done of any kind.”
The operative was reported to have made numerous controlled purchases from club members in a manner that clearly indicated that the organization was selling marijuana to many people at a price which was even higher than it would cost to purchase on the street.
The club appeared to be making thousands of dollars in unreported, tax-free income from selling drugs to people who did not qualify and profited from taking advantage of those who have a legitimate and authorized medical need to use marijuana.
WestNET detectives say they have a surveillance video and audio recordings of such transactions.
“We’re not going after legitimate growers and users,” added Rodriguez. “We’re also not going after sick people. That isn’t our intent. We’re targeting the people who hide behind and misuse the authorization of medicinal marijuana to gain from it.”
WestNET is a multi-jurisdictional narcotics task force responsible for the areas of Kitsap and Mason Counties.
Participating agencies include; Poulsbo Police Department, Bremerton Police Department, Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office, Port Orchard Police Department, Shelton Police Department, Mason County Sheriff’s Office, Naval Criminal Investigative Service and Washington State Patrol.