(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.