SANTA ANA, Calif. – Sky High Holistic, a medical-marijuana dispensary that gained national attention after Santa Ana police officers were caught on video eating snacks there during a 2015 raid, was stormed by detectives again Thursday morning in an ongoing effort, authorities say, to crack down on illegal pot shops.
Around 7:15 a.m., officers served search warrants at Sky High and the Elevated Dreams dispensaries, both located in the same strip mall in the 400 block of West 17th Street, Cpl. Anthony Bertagna said.
During the raid, officers placed items from the dispensaries in large brown bags and then loaded them into a large U-Haul truck.
Both dispensaries have continued to operate without business licenses and were not among the 20 pot shops selected to apply for permits as part of the Measure BB city ballot initiative approved in November 2014, Bertagna said.
The Sky High story
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However, Jennifer McGrath, an attorney for Sky High, said she believes the raid was conducted in retaliation for a lawsuit filed last week against the city and the Santa Police Department. The suit seeks $650,000 for property damaged in three similar raids at the dispensary since May 2015.
“Sky High has the attention of the Santa Ana Police Department,” she said.
No employees or customers at Sky High or Elevated Dreams was arrested Thursday.
However, Lundar Yuh, who owns the property that holds the dispensaries, recently received a misdemeanor citation for knowingly allowing the sale of marijuana, Bertagna said.
Since 2013, Santa Ana officials have received many complaints from homeowners, businesses and community groups about several illegal pot shops including Sky High and Elevated Dreams, Bertagna said.
“The city has employed a variety of administrative, civil, and criminal enforcement measures against numerous dispensaries, their owner-operators, and property owners,” he said. “Despite these efforts, both (Sky High or Elevated Dreams) dispensaries have continued to operate.”
Sky High gained major attention following a May 26, 2015 raid by Santa Ana police. Hidden video of the raid, released by Matthew Pappas, an attorney for Sky High, shows officers forcing customers to the floor, profanely referencing a woman in her wheelchair and munching on snacks.
The bust, which went viral via the video, led to the suspension of three police officers, who are no longer employed by the Santa Ana Police Department. Police have not disclosed why the trio aren’t with the department.
They have been charged with misdemeanor petty theft and were scheduled to be back in court in March.
In October, the city of Santa Ana agreed to pay Sky High $100,000 to settle a federal lawsuit in connection with that raid.