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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Dennis Peron, Pot Guru, Raided by San Francisco Cops

Posted By on Tue, Aug 10, 2010 at 9:35 AM

click to enlarge Dennis Peron has been feeling the heat -- from the SFPD
  • Dennis Peron has been feeling the heat -- from the SFPD
Things haven't been going well for Dennis Peron lately. Peron, one of the authors of Proposition 215 -- the 1996 voter initiative legalizing marijuana for medical purposes in California -- is on the outs with some cannabis advocates for his staunch opposition to Proposition 19, which would legalize marijuana for recreational purposes. In April, he was laid low by a stroke, which led him to sell off a downtown Los Angeles hotel he'd been renovating and focus instead on running the Castro Castle, a pot-friendly inn of sorts he keeps on 17th Street. Then, last week, the San Francisco Police Department came knocking there, according to Peron.

Details are hazy -- and no "official" account from authorities yet exists -- but Peron says the following happened: Members of the SFPD's narcotics unit entered the Castle, at 3745 17th Street, at around 4 p.m. on August 4. They took 12 people into custody -- guests at the inn and some employees, including Peron, who spent the night in jail, he said. Officers also seized an undisclosed amount of cash, 12 laptop computers -- Peron's laptop and the machines of his guests -- prescription drugs belonging to some of his guests, and a pound of marijuana, Peron said.

The following morning, Peron and his crew were released from custody "without so much as a word," he told SF Weekly.

The SFPD Media Relations unit could not immediately confirm the raid when contacted Sunday and Monday, but promised to provide details sometime today. A spokesman for District Attorney Kamala Harris confirmed the raid Monday, and said that no charges were filed -- but could be later. No other information is available "pending an ongoing investigation," said Seth Seward, an assistant district attorney with Harris's office.

A photo snapped during the Aug. 4 SFPD raid on Dennis Peron's Castro Castle
  • A photo snapped during the Aug. 4 SFPD raid on Dennis Peron's Castro Castle
The story broke over the weekend in the blogs, where speculation flew and continues to fly:

Peron was targeted because it's the 14th anniversary of the raid of his SF Buyers' Club. Peron was targeted by the same police who nearly killed him in a 1978 raid. Peron was targeted by the Fagans, former chief of police Alex, Sr. and former patrol officer Alex, Jr., best known from the Fajitagate scandal (that'd be a neat trick, as neither of them are still with the department, or have been for some time). Peron was targeted because he hangs out with younger men, who sometimes play with methamphetamine, which is of course illegal. But was it one of these, all of these, none of these? Peron has no idea.

"That's the story right now, 'Why?'" said Peron during an interview Monday at the Castro Castle. "Why me and why now?"

All the marijuana was legal, according to Peron: "It was mine. I grew it and I was in the process of smoking it." Peron admitted that two other people mentioned in the search warrant -- a copy of which SF Weekly has requested -- were "tweekers," but "neither of them live here or have any connection with [the Castro Castle]," he said.

So until the official version emerges from the Hall of Justice, the world is left with very little, aside from this: One of the key figures in California's medical marijuana movement was raided last week and his stash was taken. He hasn't been charged with anything, and he doesn't know why any of it happened.

Harassment? Maybe. Meth-related? Who knows. Peron, loquacious even after his April stroke, has his own theories, of course.

"If you ask me, it's an embarrassment for the San Francisco Police Department," he told SF Weekly. "They're taking this marijuana thing out to the very end, no matter what."

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About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has spent most of his adult life working in San Francisco news media, which is to say he's still a teenager in Middle American years. He has covered marijuana, drug policy, and politics for SF Weekly since 2009.


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