In an egregious and unnecessary use of force, the doors to the warehouse of cannabis company Med-West in Kearney Mesa, an industrial neighborhood in San Diego, were busted apart by heavily armed police officers in tactical gear—a raid more appropriate for a SWAT team attempting a hostage rescue from weapon-wielding criminals. It was not the entrance required to serve a warrant to a businessman like James Slatic, who was operating his company within California cannabis law.
The story would be tragic enough if this had occurred in the ‘80s, when all cannabis business operated in a clandestine modus operandi, pre-dating the multi-billion-dollar tax-paying cannabis industry of today. But this happened in January of 2016, in a city with clear cannabis regulations that James Slatic and his business Med-West followed to the letter. Additionally, Slatic, as one of the founders of the California Cannabis Industry Association, and a friend of many California State and local politicians, had an insider’s view of the ever-changing cannabis industry legislation. California Assemblyman Rob Bonta, Slatic said, “couldn’t believe we were raided.” According to Slatic, an astonished Bonta told him, “I know you were covered by the law, because I wrote it.”
So why, in 2016, in a city embracing cannabis businesses present and future, would the San Diego Police mess with a businessman like James Slatic? He refers to himself as a poster child for compliance, saying, “I owned the building, paid for employee health insurance and paid taxes.” Slatic’s company Med-West was seemingly the future of cannabis—proof that things were changing in the industry for the better. But raids on companies such as the Santa Rosa-based Care by Design were a foreshadowing of Med-West’s fate.