(12-20) 12:54 PST SAN FRANCISCO -- About a dozen federal agents raided the home of a couple who operate a local medicinal marijuana club early today, seizing 122 plants and an estimated $20,000 in assets.
Shortly after noon, several agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration remained in vans outside the club at 223 Ninth St. in the South of Market neighborhood, apparently waiting for a warrant to search it as well.
A crowd was growing around the club, including protesters carrying signs supporting the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. California voters legalized medicinal pot use in 1996, but it remains against federal law.
No local law enforcement officers took part in the raid on the home of the club's operators, Steve and Catherine Smith, activists said. The raid happened at 6:30 a.m. on the 200 block of Clara Street, a few blocks away from their Hopenet Co-op.
The club is next door to the California Marijuana Party, an organization that lobbies for the national legalization of medicinal use of the drug.
In addition to marijuana plants, agents confiscated growing equipment, bulbs, utility bills, tax documents, financial records and photographs from the Smiths' home, the couple said. Steve Smith said he suspected the agents had taken some patient records as well.
"They beat on the door. They took me outside in my underwear and cuffed me and then searched the house," Steve Smith said.
However, no arrests had been made as of early this afternoon.
The Hopenet Co-op has been open for about a year and distributes marijuana to about 100 patients for free in addition to its paying clients, Catherine Smith said.
Wayne Justmann, a longtime medicinal marijuana activist, joined the crowd outside Hopenet today.
"I believe this is a very isolated incident," said Justmann, who said he suspected that someone targeting the Smiths had tipped off the DEA.
"This is a good one," he said of the coop.
Today's raid was the first of its kind in the city since June, when federal agents seized marijuana and other items from two cannabis clubs on Ocean Avenue in the Ingleside district and a third on Judah Street in the Inner Sunset district.
Those raids were the first in the Bay Area since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled this summer that the federal government had the authority to prosecute people whose activities are legal under state law.