Update: Police took 2K+ plants from North Delridge warehouse, left 45, say dispensary operator and SPD

June 4, 2014 at 1:34 pm | In Delridge, West Seattle news, West Seattle police | 43 Comments

(Screengrab from @raincitycannabis Instagram feed)
While we await more information from Seattle Police on why they raided a North Delridge warehouse – as reported here Tuesday afternoon – we’ve spoken with the man who says the operation was his: Matthew Segal of Rain City, which has dispensaries in Rainier and Magnolia, says he is mystified as to why his operation at 28th/Yancy was raided. He has posted photos on Instagram showing the aftermath; we found him after a tip about the photos. [Editor's note: They are now showing as "unavailable" from the embed mode; we're substituting an earlier screengrab above.] He says more than 2,500 plants were growing, and that police told him he could keep 45 – the amount allowed in one “collective garden.” Segal says the raid happened without warning, and that there have been no arrests, and no explanation. He says he was working with the state Liquor Control Board on licensing this location as a legal growing site for the recreational-marijuana business, and that he is registered with the state Labor and Industries Department as a cannabis grower.

He says Rain City serves 4,500 patients/clients. But he acknowledged that the amount of allowed plants at a facility like this is a “gray area,” as much of the medical-marijuana industry has been for the past decade-plus. All he knows for now, he told us, is that he got a call yesterday “saying that police were at my warehouse … and then I came down,” and found the plants being removed. He says he had been growing there for three years and was buying the building (county records show him listed as its owner since a $1,050,000 purchase in March) . He hasn’t decided on his next steps, but hasn’t ruled out legal action, while saying he’ll “figure something out” about how to get a supply to stay in business. “I just don’t understand, it really … it’s going to haunt me.”

Meantime, we checked again with police this morning, seeking more information beyond what Narcotics Unit Captain James Dermody had told us at the scene yesterday; SPD spokesperson Det. Renée Witt said they were still gathering information to share with media. We’ll update this story whenever that information is available.

4:47 PM UPDATE: We stepped away from the desk for a few minutes, and that’s when the SPD Blotter post went up. New information includes police saying they searched two homes, one of them in West Seattle, as well as the 28th/Yancy warehouse:

After receiving complaints from neighbors about an overwhelming smell emanating from a large marijuana grow operation, the Seattle Police Narcotics Unit and Anti-Crime Team officers served a warrant — signed by a King County District Court judge — at a home and a warehouse in West Seattle and another house on Beacon Hill Tuesday evening, and recovered what detectives say is an unprecedented number of illegally-grown marijuana plants.

After police began an investigation into the two homes and warehouse — in the 2400 block of S. Morgan St, 6500 block of 44th Ave SW and 2600 block of SW Yancy St respectively — detectives learned the three illegal marijuana grows were operating under the guise of a medical marijuana collective and were growing far more plants than allowed under state law.

The West Seattle warehouse had more than 2200 plants alone, well over the 45 plant limit allowed for medical marijuana grows in Washington. Police seized 206 and 227 plants at the two homes.

All told 2663 plants and 86 pounds of processed marijuana were seized during the operation.

Detectives say this is the largest illegal marijuana grow operation they can recall investigating.

Police also believe the owner of the grow operation was harvesting marijuana from the grow operation and selling it through a dispensary — which he also owns — violating the state’s regulations on collective gardens.

Detectives left 45 marijuana plants at each location, along with 72 ounces of processed marijuana and growing equipment, and let the growers at each site select which plants they wanted to keep. Detectives were interested only in bringing the operation back under the limits of state law, and in addition to leaving plants and equipment at the scenes, also opted not to book anyone involved in the operation into jail.

43 Comments

  1. This is ridiculous – I was never for legalized MJ, just decriminalization. Since it is legal now, why not go after heroin, meth or ecstasy “distrbutors”. The only reason for this must be to ensure items are properly taxed.

    Comment by WestofJunction — 1:53 pm June 4, 2014 #

  2. This guy is either a liar or an idiot, probably both. It appears that he does not have a license from the Liquor Control Board to grow marijuana and therefore, I do not even understand how he can claim that what he was doing was not in direct violation of both state and federal law. He talks about bringing a lawsuit, but what he really should do is to find himself a really good criminal lawyer because this guy is both facing and deserving of serious jail time. I only hope that the Feds get involved in this as well, which they very well might.

    Comment by Alberto — 1:56 pm June 4, 2014 #

  3. This is a minor tax issue at most, something to be solved with paperwork and a fine, not this. The police are being a menace. They are obsessed to a perverted degree with enforcing out of date laws, and end up causing far more harm than any marijuana ever would in doing so. It is the duty of our government to protect its citizens from these types of acts of thuggery and harassment. SPD has a reputation for abusive reactionary behavior and is waging a vendetta against the people of this city as revenge for voting out their unconstitutional prohibition. This is unacceptable.

    Comment by Truth — 2:05 pm June 4, 2014 #

  4. We voted, statewide and citywide to decriminalize and have approved measures that tell police to lay off. Cut the crap, focus on the real crimes.

    Comment by WS15yrs — 2:16 pm June 4, 2014 #

  5. What this story is about greed and lack of self
    control. This guy had 3 applications for I-502
    producer/processor license and he just pissed
    it all away for being stupid greedy. He couldn’t
    wait couple more months before growing legally.
    His friend and partner won a retail
    lottery ticket and he will probably lose that also.
    This is what law and order and rules look like, outlaw.

    @Alberto. Yup, he better shut his mouth up and
    find a great lawyer. He has been instagraming
    f*ck the police and typical juvenile crap.
    Unbelievable.

    Comment by GoodStory — 2:23 pm June 4, 2014 #

  6. If they say you can have 45 plants then only have 45.

    Comment by susan — 2:49 pm June 4, 2014 #

  7. Any bets he was selling on the side?

    I cannot imagine that he was strictly doing all of this “legally”. That was ALOT of plants.

    Comment by T Rex — 2:56 pm June 4, 2014 #

  8. Yup, raids tend to be more effective when they happen WITHOUT warning!
    So tired of all the whining by punks who think they are above the law! @Truth, the SPD was enforcing the law. It’s what my tax dollars pay them to do. If the grow operation had more than 45 plants, it had too many…

    Comment by Garden_nymph — 3:16 pm June 4, 2014 #

  9. For those moaning about 45 plants, read up on “collective garden” – he was left with a pittance compared to what is allowed for medical growing.

    Comment by schwaggy — 3:24 pm June 4, 2014 #

  10. I feel safer. (/sarcasm)

    Comment by Militant Moderate — 3:41 pm June 4, 2014 #

  11. Hey all you sleepy stoney growers! Be advised: this will be made an example of how NOT to transition from the former gray area to the VERY new laws which are not so gray dude.

    Youse kinda dumb. Buh bye.

    La

    Comment by Meanwhile back on "the grow" — 3:55 pm June 4, 2014 #

  12. Wow. So many people here dumping on the police.

    Yes, it has been decriminalized, but this was not a licensed grow operation, which IS part of the law.

    This guy did wrong as he could not wait for his official licenses. Throw the book at him. Maybe he and others will learn to follow the laws next time.

    Comment by Ray — 3:57 pm June 4, 2014 #

  13. brought attention to himself by not containing smell, being redic over limit on plant numbers (even in california smart weeb growers dont go over the limit) and posting pics of his weed growing life on social media.

    that stupidity. its not “i feel safer sarcasm) militnat moderate.

    if you want to be a high-level dope pusher, dont skimp on the carbon filters, and dont pee off your neighbors

    Comment by steve — 4:10 pm June 4, 2014 #

  14. Try making more than the allowable alcohol in a private operation and see what happens. Try speeding in a school zone and see how the police react. Sell tobacco to someone under 18 in front of a state official and watch what happens to you. Rules are rules, dumb or not. If I can get a ticket for talking on my cellphone while driving then there’s no reason this guy can’t lose his dope plants if he isn’t allowed to have that many. No one is harmed if a driver forgot to signal when they turn on a deserted street. But if a cop sees it, the driver gets a ticket from a cop who should be out chasing rapists and robbers (ie: real criminals) instead.

    Comment by Bradley — 4:11 pm June 4, 2014 #

  15. SPD bullying. Again.

    Comment by ScubaFrog — 4:30 pm June 4, 2014 #

  16. Well atleast Matt will be able to get a $15 an hour job at a nursery since he likes plants! Good job SPD!

    Comment by buckwheat — 5:35 pm June 4, 2014 #

  17. did anyone really read the above article? Illegally growing…oops. Allowed to keep the legal #…at all three locations….that’s 45 X 3. And no charges. The guy is damned lucky. If it had been you or me? Not so sure….

    Comment by JanS — 7:15 pm June 4, 2014 #

  18. The moral of the story is don’t post pics of questionable grows on Instagram. Duh!

    Comment by commonsense — 8:09 pm June 4, 2014 #

  19. I have been near huge MJ grows that were not filtered, and they are STINKY. I even know of a police raid in Holland on the apartment below a friend, because it smelled so bad, and it is against the law to grow so much on your own. I commend the police for taking action on a neighborhood nuisance.

    Comment by AJP — 8:40 pm June 4, 2014 #

  20. There have been many Warehouse grows on the NEWS and they were never raided. This is the beginning of a war against medical cannabis dispensaries. They have to eliminate all the medical dispensaries to pave the way for the overtaxed $30 dollar a gram weed thats coming with I-502. Google Carl Rubicam Douchebag to learn more.

    Comment by James Baines — 9:28 pm June 4, 2014 #

  21. Also, on the municipal enforcement level, he was apparently failing to comply with:
    - Having a City of Seattle business license
    - Having a Certificate of Occupancy
    - Seattle Building, Electrical, and Fire Code

    Comment by ltfd — 9:48 pm June 4, 2014 #

  22. @AJP, what does a grow smell like exactly? I think my neighbor is either CONSTANTLY getting high or cooking meth or something else is going on. His house has a putrid, weedy, chemical smell eminating from every door and window. I just don’t know what’s not normal or when to call it in.

    Comment by NorDel — 10:44 pm June 4, 2014 #

  23. How can the smell be so offensive? Me thinks some other motivation.

    Comment by some dude — 11:27 pm June 4, 2014 #

  24. Some idiot attempted this in my West Seattle rental. Gave me the sad story about helping others with his dope. He even rewired the house panel! Good thing I busted him before the setup got rolling. The great idea to allow this in the State is certain to be the source of some excellent Darwin award material. Party on dudes.

    Comment by Craig — 6:50 am June 5, 2014 #

  25. This person is supposed to be an authority (http://cannaconsultinggroup.com/matthew-segal/) on this subject and was obviously operating outside of those parameters. The blatant lack of ethics and disregard for the rules should nullify his business and any counterparts from working with the state on legal MJ and medical in the future. It would be interesting to see if the Feds take the newly acquired property due to the numbers involved in the raids, also I wonder how he got a loan to buy the building and how much income he has been claiming on his taxes. I am sure the Stranger will due a thurough job on the story. Interesting times we are in.

    Comment by Rcl — 7:33 am June 5, 2014 #

  26. Looks like all the Cheetos are gone too, damn!

    Comment by drahcir61 — 7:39 am June 5, 2014 #

  27. @good story- who is the friend that won a retail license? That seems to be a conflict of interest,
    also Segal says he has been working with LCB on getting his space licensed, I wonder if LCB knew of the contents of the location?

    Comment by Ryan l — 7:44 am June 5, 2014 #

  28. Rcl, thanks for that link. Otherwise, sorry if this doesn’t seem thorough, but it’s far more information than any other publication has reported – we have been on this for two days now, since the original raid, and aside from publishing the SPD Blotter info yesterday, nobody else has bothered with it, not the raid itself, nor following up with the grower – TR

    Comment by WSB — 7:53 am June 5, 2014 #

  29. All you MJ supporters out there should really be aware that these growers who pretend to “care” about your medical needs care only about their paychecks and this guy was the perfect example.

    And those slamming the cops, SHAME ON YOU. The law says 45 plants. That is it. Personally I think legalization was a HUGE mistake. But time will tell.

    Comment by T Rex — 8:13 am June 5, 2014 #

  30. WSB – thank you for the great reporting (as usual)! Thats why you are always our first source for local news.

    Keep it up and thanks again!

    Comment by Rcl — 8:45 am June 5, 2014 #

  31. @T Rex- I completely agree. All the Cop bashing is getting really old! People complain the police aren’t doing their job, then when they do- people COMPLAIN!
    Legalizing pot doesn’t mean it’s a free for all regarding business laws, zoning, safe labor practices et al.
    @Scuba Frog, your attitude toward the SPD never fails to disappoint me! Too bad the SPD doesn’t have a “Do not assist” list for people like you.

    Comment by Garden_nymph — 10:26 am June 5, 2014 #

  32. The 45-plant “collective gardens” vaguely envisioned by the mess of medical marijuana policies we have are essentially a legal fiction. Everyone here seems to venerate the precious ‘rules’ by which this grower was supposed to play.

    Recall that we had a proposal (SB 5073) to regulate the sales and distribution of medical marijuana that the voters passed and the governor vetoed. It addressed the vast grey area that still exists, despite the black-and-white picture often painted. The line-item veto gutted the proposal, leaving only the 45-plant limit on collective gardens. As with many bills, if you strike out every line but one, that one line taken out of context may very well undermine your original purpose – as it did here. The goal was to enable the smooth functioning of the medical marijuana market. After Gregoire’s veto, the effect was the opposite.

    It is still not technically legal to sell marijuana to dispensaries or anyone else. Allegedly, dispensaries are just community centers where like-minded patients gather to trade plants and flowers (from their personal gardens) and donate to offset the costs of their collaborative efforts.

    In reality, as anyone who has visited can tell you, it’s a pot store. They buy their products from vendors, and sell it to medical patients with the need/desire. None of those grower-vendors can hope to turn a profit under the 45 plant limit – the infrastructure start-up and maintenance costs, extortionist rent, security concerns, the legal risks, and everything else make the yield on those plants far too low to justify. Even in a true non-profit, salaries need to get paid.

    Because we have failed to promulgate rules congruent with reality, yes, this grower was out of compliance. But so is every MMJ producer — everyone out there providing medical marijuana to ill patients can be busted by the authorities at any moment, state or federal.

    This guy isn’t an anomaly, or a gang lord, and it appears he’s doing everything he can to get licensed to produce.

    Whatever your opinion of legal pot and the upcoming retail stores, if you want to weigh in on the medical system I advise getting off the high horse and getting into reality about how the system actually works and what “rules” actually exist. Of course, rather than clarifying the situation our policymakers are focused on destroying the medical market entirely to drive people to retail, but that’s another story.

    And as many have noted, until it gets sorted out you’d better find a spot to grow that isn’t going to piss off your neighbors – because there’s no adequate legal protection for growers, period.

    Comment by Reality_Check — 11:30 am June 5, 2014 #

  33. And good news for the haters Re: 45 plant limit. A month ago the WA Court of Appeals ruled that collective gardens are illegal, period. SB 5073 contemplated a voluntary patient registry – that section was stricken. Cannabis Action Coalition v. City of Kent:

    “We hold that neither the plain language of the statute nor the governor’s intent as expressed in her veto message supports a reading of ESSSB 5073 that legalizes collective gardens.”

    “…[SB 5073] did not legalize collective gardens because collective gardens would only have been legalized in circumstances wherein the participating patients were duly registered, and the registry does not exist…”

    In case you thought the vaunted “rules” were clear!

    Comment by Reality_Check — 11:41 am June 5, 2014 #

  34. I, for one, was aware of AND comprehend the new rules.

    No biggie really.
    Cuz I’m not high. :D.

    Stoners have to learn how to be licensed business people, as ltfd points out. I mean, did those lights and electrical cords look reasonable and safe to you? No way was he even protecting his own investment! Clue. Less. Why? Cuze he’s in the zone dude.

    Hire new pot lawyers you heads. Ignorance of these laws is NOT going to be an excuse.

    I must say, the Darwin awards really do apply here in the transition phase. Silly people.

    Comment by Meanwhile Back at the Grow — 2:04 pm June 5, 2014 #

  35. We live near the warehouse and while we didn’t complain, it’s right next to a very busy gym and the smell was incredibly strong. It smelled like someone was smoking every minute of every day. I don’t blame the police for doing something because they were probably getting constant complaints.

    Comment by DB — 4:15 pm June 5, 2014 #

  36. It’s just super potent pot smell. I don’t remember a chemical smell, just really strong. I have a question, Reality Check, if these dispensaries are really operating on such a slim margin, then why are there so stinking many of them all over the place? I would think low profits would weed a lot of them out, but I’ve only seen new ones opening.

    Comment by AJP — 8:01 pm June 5, 2014 #

  37. @realitycheck

    all your arguments go out the window when you consider that this guy was growing large numbers of plans in a heavily populated area and not containing the smell.

    this guy ISNT AN ANOMOLY? he had over 2000 plants in a heavily populated area with NO SMELL CONTROL.

    are there that many warehouse grows with no odor control that i’m missing?

    this guy easily could grown all the pot he wants, but he decided to not contain the smell. IDIOT.

    if you’re going to jump and be one of the first legal mj gold rush members, you cant skip anything. dude deserves zero pity. he was able to get a million dollar warehouse property, how many people can do that?

    with Seattle city light showing up, that makes me thing he was stealing power. you need a lot of electricity to flower 2k plants.

    Comment by steve — 11:45 pm June 5, 2014 #

  38. Smell could be they are cooking hash. That’s a very strong and distinct odor.

    Comment by could be — 9:23 am June 6, 2014 #

  39. The 45 plant limit exists for a good reason, and the police were doing their jobs. I don’t want to see monopolies of marijuana, I want it to be more like the wine industry, based on reputation and class.

    Comment by highland park resident — 1:09 pm June 6, 2014 #

  40. This guy is ignorant if he thought he grow more than 45 plants at a location. 2200 is a ridiculous # that only makes the medical industry look more shady. Limits need to be respected, taxes paid, and positive examples set, if the MMJ industry is to survive against this greedy state and I-502 supporters. Shame on him for his pure lack of knowledge.. embarrassing really..

    Comment by NWKarma — 3:35 pm June 6, 2014 #

  41. 45 plants is the limit for a collective garden but nowhere in the rcw does it say only 1 garden is permitted in a building.

    Do you people realize the penalties for manufacturing marijuana should king county charge him? They’re the same asanufacturing meth. Do you really think growing medical marihuana should lead to prison ? Maybe you don’t like cannabis but you have to know it’s not even close to as harmful as method and alcohol.

    Comment by Kitsap — 8:58 pm June 6, 2014 #

  42. I’m sure they only “siezed” those that were finished flowering (crooks in the DEA)

    Comment by lilpantherpaw — 11:48 am June 8, 2014 #

  43. @Meanwhile – What ‘new’ rules are you referring to? SB 5073 passed in 2011, are there more recent guidelines on medical growing or selling? As noted, the retail issue is allegedly a separate kettle of fish.

    @AJP – Correct, the dispensaries do fine. And growers can too – but not with the ROI on 45 plants.

    @Steve – My argument is that the lack of regulation around the production and distribution of medical marijuana harms everyone. What few rules exist do nothing to clarify the situation, which is why they are so out of step with reality. My point is that they are not graven in stone, and nor are they as easy to follow as everyone seems to suggest. Again, collective gardens of all sizes are currently illegal per the Court of Appeals.

    At present, the only legal grow is by a single patient/caregiver with a valid doctor’s referral (note, this is not a prescription or a license). Growing your own is clearly insufficient to support the medical access Washington voted for, and does not adequately serve most patients. Hence the popularity of dispensaries. The entire dispensary system exists ‘between the lines’ – sales are illegal, and their growers are also operating outside the law.

    As to this particular grower, I offer no defense — discretion and respecting your community are the only way to ‘get away with it.’ He’s not an anomaly re: his legal status as ‘grey area’ at best. He’s definitely an anomaly in terms of growing huge in a heavily trafficked area without adequate odor control. Clearly pushing the boundaries and clearly why he got nailed.

    Comment by Reality_Check — 2:58 pm June 10, 2014 #

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