Ventura medical pot delivery business busted, CEO arrested as Prop 64 passes

Days before California voters legalized marijuana, one of the Ventura County’s largest medical marijuana providers was raided. Its CEO, Chelsea Sutula, was arrested and now awaits trial. Sutula had been running the Sespe Creek Collective, a medial marijuana delivery service that’s been operating for six years.

According to the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department, Sutula was operating outside the scope of the California Compassionate Use Act. She was arrested and arraigned for perjury and possession for sale, among other violations. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for January 23rd.

“It’s still anyone’s guess what evidence they have to support these charges,” said Sutula.

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A medicine journal designed for patients to better track which medicines work for them. (Chelsea Sutula)

According to Jay Leiderman, a lawyer in Ventura who represents medical marijuana growers and sellers, the timing was far too coincidental. Although the Sheriff’s department says the raid had nothing to do with the election or Proposition 64, Leiderman thinks the department wanted to crack down and make a statement before pot became legalized.

“Right now, police don’t differentiate between marijuana and heroin,” said Leiderman. Come January 2018, when the Adult Use of Marijuana Act and the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act go into effect, Leiderman says things will change.

“I think it will become more of a compliance issue than a drug issue,” he said. “It’s inconceivable to me that the District Attorney would dig hard on a misdemeanor, where the prospects of winning aren’t fantastic.”

As the industry chair of the Ventura County Cannabis Alliance, Sutula said she’ll continue to talk with citizens, local elected officials and law enforcement as municipalities discuss what their own marijuana regulations will look like, both medical and recreational.

This month, Ojai became the first city in the county to properly license the delivery and pickup of medical marijuana. In Port Hueneme, city council decided to form an ad hoc committee to look at how to proceed now that Prop 64 has passed. On December 6, the County Executive Office plans to present the Ventura County Board of Supervisors with a report on how new recreational marijuana laws affect Ventura County and a draft proposal for regulating medical marijuana in unincorporated areas.

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Chelsea Sutula speaking about cannabis at the Holistic Health and Wellness Fair in Ventura.

You can listen to KCRW’s interview with Sutula and Leiderman here:

Comments

  1. Chelsea S
    Feb 11, 2017, 8:39 am

    You are correct, Sespe Creek Collective had absolutely no connection with the illegal grow in Fillmore that was allegedly destroyed in July. I can see how you would make that mistake because of the name Sespe but we've no operations in Fillmore for several years. It's easy to blame others and make poorly-formed judgments without knowing any facts of the case. It's really very strange to me that there were no arrests made in that Fillmore case... stealing water is a serious crime especially given our drought situation. Maybe you should ask questions about that instead and direct your contempt towards the real criminals instead of bullying the activists fighting for our right to safe access. I don't have time to figure out who you are, I wish you all the best.

  2. Chelsea S
    Feb 02, 2017, 10:24 am

    Misinformed Anonymous Internet Poster, I am happy to speak the truth about TAXES and INSURANCE and SECURITY and EDUCATION and LEGAL COMPLIANCE and then educate you on what it costs to achieve those things, anytime! You didn't actually leave your email address, oops! Of course we're not the only collective around... I'm sure the others you are using will be happy to share their BOE seller's permit numbers and worker's comp and general liability insurance policies with you to verify they are compliant, just ask them!

    I am really proud of our reputation and the work we did to educate patients and local officials. I'm still doing it today, without anyone paying me a cent to do it. That is my life's path and I won't allow internet trolls be an obstacle to that. It's too bad you aren't fully informed on the costs of running a compliant collective and choose to spend your time spewing venom against people (that went to jail for this plant on behalf of patients) on public forums. Doesn't sound very loving or compassionate to me!