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Authorities raid Costa Mesa marijuana dispensaries

Owner of Otherside Farms says he's surprised why his facility was one of the two targeted by the DEA while many others remain in operation.

January 18, 2012|By Joseph Serna
  • Federal agents, along with local police, confiscated plants, cash, and equipment, from Otherside Farms in Costa Mesa.
Federal agents, along with local police, confiscated… (DON LEACH, DAILY…)

COSTA MESA — When federal and local authorities raided Chadd McKeen's marijuana dispensary Tuesday morning, he was shocked.

He said his store, Otherside Farms, is cleaner, more transparent and in line with state medicinal laws compared to others in Costa Mesa.

Police and federal authorities executing a search warrant at the business Tuesday seemed to agree.

"This place is [expletive] awesome," one man was heard saying over security video, while others tried to open the door to where the marijuana plants are hung out to dry.

"I would definitely buy my weed here," another joked.

McKeen said he can boast about 1,200 regular patients — called customers, according to federal authorities — who visit the two-story business on Broadway, across the street from Triangle Square.

He said that while not completely surprised that the Drug Enforcement Administration ultimately shut down his place with help from local police and the U.S. attorney's office, he's baffled as to why his and one other dispensary nearby on Cabrillo Street, American Collective, were hit while dozens of others in the city remained in operation.

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"I don't know what they were expecting," McKeen said Wednesday, standing at the store counter with dozens of empty jars behind him that usually carry various strains of marijuana. "A couple hundred plants? A few grand? I've got all my ducks in a row."

According to paperwork left with McKeen's business after the raid, the DEA and police took some 200 plants, all his cash, most of his electronic equipment and his bank records.

The raid was one of two that federal authorities conducted in Costa Mesa on Tuesday.

American Collective dispensary owner Jeff Byrne and McKeen said authorities first searched their homes before moving on to the businesses.

"The Police Department is proud to have been able to assist the DEA with this operation," said Costa Mesa police Lt. Bryan Glass. "In regards to any statements, we have to listen to the audio to put them in the proper context to evaluate them."

The U.S. attorney's office announced in October that it was coming after marijuana dispensaries statewide, specifically those that were in clear violation of the state's medicinal use laws.

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