Within 48 hours of the June 15 DEA raid on the facilities of his cannabis extracts company in Santa Rosa, Dennis Franklin Hunter was released without charges—and the enterprise, Care By Design (CBD), is back in operation. Advocates are hailing it as a victory for the industry and user rights. At least 150 patients, activists and supporters of the CBD Guild collective filled the steps outside the Sonoma County Superior Courthouse in Santa Rosa following the raid, the local Press-Democrat newspaper reports. Company spokesman Nick Caston, emphasized CBD’s commitment to operating within the law, saying: “We produce medicine as determined by the voters in the 1990s, and we do it with the best practices of any company in the state.”
Bail for CBD co-founder Hunter, 43, had been set at a staggering $5 million—ostensibly because of his history of fleeing charges, including a four-year stint on the lam that ended in 2002. He later served a federal prison sentence for running a 12,000-plant grow op in Humboldt County. But CBD and authorities now seem to agree that the accusations that sparked last week’s raid were bogus. Hunter was arrested on suspicion of using butane gas to produce concentrated cannabis oil—a practice banned in California. It now appears the accusation was invented by a disgruntled former employee, who is attempting to launch his own competing company. Police essentially raided a business due to “an employment dispute,” Hunter’s attorney Joe Rogoway told SF Weekly. “We are elated that Dennis has been released and we compliment the DA’s office in making a correct decision in choosing not to go forward” with charges, he added to the Press-Democrat.
SF Gate‘s cannabis-friendly Smell The Truth blog thanks California’s new Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA) for the fact that the affair has been resolved happily. MMRSA provides guidelines for regulating and licensing cannabis businesses, and officials from both Sonoma County and the city of Santa Rosa were working with Care By Design to establish oversight of the facility at the time of the raid. Although the DEA teamed up with local law enforcement for the raid, the feds have also declined to press charges.