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News (Media Awareness Project) - US CA: Pot Collective Owner Denies Accusations
Title:US CA: Pot Collective Owner Denies Accusations
Published On:2012-01-26
Source:Press-Enterprise (Riverside, CA)
Fetched On:2012-01-27 06:02:02
French Valley


The owner of a medical marijuana facility near Murrieta that was shut
down last week in an ongoing federal crackdown denied accusations
that he sold marijuana for profit.

"It just wasn't what they said it was," said Kevin O. Freeman, 38, of
Temecula. "We were doing it right. It was a true collective."

Agents searched the Disabled American Veterans Collective, which
occupied several suites in a business complex at 38372 Innovation
Court in French Valley and included an indoor growing operation. They
seized about 1,800 plants, 10 pounds of dried marijuana, 16 pounds of
hash and 8 pounds of food products containing marijuana, said Sarah
Pullen, a spokeswoman for the federal Drug Enforcement
Administration. Freeman disputed those amounts.

Freeman was arrested by sheriff's investigators on suspicion of
possession of marijuana for sale and growing marijuana, jail records
show. Initially, his bail was set at $250,000, but sheriff's
officials released him two days later, he said. Charges have not been
filed, Riverside County court records show.

"It was degrading and demeaning," he said. "I've never been arrested."

Freeman said he is a former Marine who received a medical discharge
11 years ago for a service-related disability. Many of the
collective's 6,000 members are also veterans, he said.

Pullen said she could not comment because the investigation is ongoing.

Federal search warrant documents accuse Freeman of operating a
for-profit business that sold marijuana to people without medical
conditions. An undercover sheriff's investigator went to the
collective in December and purchased marijuana after filling out
paperwork and presenting a doctor's recommendation, court records show.

Freeman said he did not believe there was a problem with selling
marijuana to the officer because they verified the recommendation
with his doctor and he joined the collective.

Investigators didn't need to go undercover to learn about his
facility, Freeman said. He already had allowed them to walk through
the space last year, he said. In June, a Riverside County code
enforcement officer inspected it. And in August, Freeman called the
Sheriff's Department when someone tried to burglarize the collective,
he said. Search warrant documents confirm both visits.

"It was completely transparent," he said.

Freeman said he started out growing medical marijuana for personal
use in his garage. The collective incorporated in 2009, moved into a
suite at the Innovation Court complex in 2010 and later expanded.
Freeman said the facility was up to code and that he paid sales taxes
to the state.

"We weren't a nuisance. We were in an industrial area," he said.

Freeman's facility was one of several that received warning letters
from federal authorities last fall. He said he was no longer
operating the storefront at the time of the raid, but he was still
making deliveries to existing members.

"It's a hard pill to swallow," he said. "Especially when they say you
were profiting. I just put a lot of time in it to walk away with
nothing. And I do mean nothing."
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