Feds put the squeeze on Hayward marijuana co-op
By Julia Cheever, Bay City News Service
HAYWARD (BCN) - The owner and manager of a medical marijuana
dispensary in Hayward were arrested by U.S. drug and tax agents
today on federal marijuana charges.
Local Patients Cooperative owner Shon Squier, 34, and manager
Valerie Herschel, 23, are charged in a criminal complaint filed
in federal court in Oakland on Monday with conspiracy to distribute
marijuana, distribution of marijuana and maintaining marijuana
They are scheduled to make an initial court appearance before
U.S. Magistrate Wayne Brazil in Oakland on Wednesday.
U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan said that in addition to arresting the
pair, Drug Enforcement Administration and Internal Revenue Service
agents seized hundreds of marijuana plants, marijuana cookies
and brownies, two inert grenades, cash and several expensive cars
The items were seized during searches of the cooperative's premises
on Foothill Boulevard, two Hayward residences and two cars, Ryan
DEA Special Agent Kenny Lee alleged in an affidavit filed with
the complaint that the co op purports to sell the drug to patients
under California's medical marijuana law, but in fact sells it
to healthy people.
Lee wrote, "I believe that Hayward Local Patients Co-op
seeks to disguise the breadth of its criminal activity by claiming
that it caters exclusively to people suffering from medical illnesses,
when in fact persons without any medical condition can purchase
marijuana ... at the retail establishment."
Federal drug laws make no exception for California's voter-approved
Compassionate Use Act of 1996, which protects patients who use
marijuana with a doctor's permission from being prosecuted under
The federal criminal charges against Squier and Herschel each
carry a possible maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, but the
actual penalty, if they are convicted, would be determined after
consideration of U.S. sentencing guidelines.
Even before today's arrests, the cooperative was under order
by Hayward City Manager Jesus Armas to cease operations by Dec.
Armas said today that he told Squier on Nov. 3 that the cooperative
must close by Dec. 31 because police found substantial amounts
of marijuana there this fall in violation of a 2003 operating
agreement with the city.
Under the pact, the city agreed to suspend enforcement of certain
zoning laws against the cooperative so long as the group had no
more than 3 pounds at the site at one time.
Armas said Hayward police found 30 pounds of marijuana at the
cooperative in September and allegedly found more than 200 pounds
during a second visit in October. Squier disputed the amount found
in October, but agreed it was more than 30 pounds, Armas said.
Copyright © 2006 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication,
Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent
of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.