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Mar-07-2012 23:58printcomments

Salem Police Ransack Medical Marijuana Dispensary

Smokey's Lounge is a private club for legal medical marijuana patients.

Salem police

(SALEM, Ore.) - Many people in South Salem were witness to the police action on 13th Street Tuesday at Smokey's Lounge. For hours, police had the driveway blocked and were seen in and around the building taking photographs and by some accounts, intimidating onlookers.

The small building serving as a medical marijuana lounge is not much of a hot spot. It is unassuming and quiet, even with patients coming and going. On the front door is a posted note, explaining that one must have an Oregon Medical Marijuana Permit and picture ID to enter. It is a private club.

Patients that are state-sanctioned to legally use marijuana (or Cannabis) must acquire their medicine from a source outside the accepted pharmaceutical industry. That is the way the State of Oregon has it set up.

A patient with a chronic medical condition may have a doctor who believes Cannabis will do them some good, perhaps to keep them off hard drugs, or to reduce the amount of dangerous prescription drugs necessary. Once their doctor has signed the application for a medical marijuana permit, the patient sends the information in to the state- with $200. This process is repeated every single year, making Cannabis the only medicine that patients must pay a tax in order to take.

In Oregon, patients who decide to use all-natural herbal medicine are responsible for either growing or reimbursing someone else for the expenses to grow their medicine. For some people, both are very impractical ideas.

The elderly and infirm are rarely able to accomplish the task of gardening, and must rely on others to supply their medicine. Some say that there are not enough gardeners available for patients, and have a difficult time in finding one. Rightly so, people are careful about trusting others in this arena. That is where the medical marijuana dispensary comes in.

Dispensaries have been opening up around Oregon increasingly since 1998, and in 2010 there was an intense effort to regulate them (Measure 74), but voters rejected the bill. The campaign to change the availability of medicine statewide continues. This is a "burr in the saddle" for the U.S. Attorney General.

Broken window at Smokeys Novelties

Regardless of Oregon's laws, the Federal Government has the ability to overrule and circumvent our authority. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder sent a letter to Oregon Medical Marijuana dispensaries last June, professing his intention to shut them down. He said that the Feds would go after the landlords, and threatened to take their property if they don't go along with him. The letter was signed by 33 of 34 Oregon district attorneys. (See previous article:

Many dispensaries complied, instantly defeated. Some contacted their attorneys and warily continued. Some insisted they were already complying with the law, and refused to close.

Medical marijuana clubs or lounges in Oregon operate under the propriety of not making any medicine available to sell; they are disallowed from "selling" completely. A patient is allowed to donate (toward utilities, water, fertilizer, etc) and receive some medicine. It is a simple answer for a great many people. It is compassionate.

Whether or not AG Holder's promise to disrupt the lives of thousands of Oregon patients was behind the efforts on Tuesday is not clear, but it does appear to be a factor.

Tuesday morning started out with the police responding to a broken window at Smokey's Novelties Gift Shop in downtown Salem. At 6:30 a.m. morning walkers saw the aftereffects of an alleged robbery, with police surrounding the store for hours.

Tommy Chong and Eddie Lara in 2011

Something prompted police to obtain a search warrant, apparently via "Probable Cause" and proceed to the owner's other properties for a fine-tooth-comb going over.

This brought them through the closed door of Smokey's Lounge. What they did and what, if anything, they found there is still undetermined.

At 12:10 p.m., owner Edward Lara was booked into the Marion County Jail on eleven counts. General Manager Lupe Espinoza is being held on the same eleven charges. They were both arraigned this afternoon, and each assigned a half-million dollar bail. Their pretrial hearings are 8:30 a.m. March 16 (Espinoza) and April 2 (Lara), respectively.

The charges include Delivery of Marijuana, Endangering Minors, being too close to a school, and, surprisingly, possession of cocaine. The details on Lara's arrest and the story behind each of the charges has not been revealed, though the cocaine charge is a shock to many that know Lara.

At about 7 p.m. Tuesday, I spoke to an officer on the scene. Another stood close by, shining his flashlight in my vehicle while I inquired about the nature of the investigation. The first officer told me that there were police inside, and no one else. I asked if there had been a robbery, which seemed to surprise him, and he clearly said, "No, we have a search warrant. Everything is being searched, they're closed." He didn't offer any other information, or seem to know that this event had reportedly began with a robbery.

Edward Lara, or Smokey, is a renowned glass blower from the Salem area. He's been in business since 2002, an artisan entrepreneur who found his calling. His arrest was unsettling for scores of regular clients and patients, their faith in Oregon's justice system brought into question combined with confusion about the many charges. Lara is well-known and respected in the canna-business community and has carved out a name for himself with an inventory of quality products.

Salem Police have not returned our request for a statement or produced a press release at this time.

Smokey's Novelties gift shop downtown was not open for business on Wednesday, but the employees seemed hopeful that they would be reopening soon.

The future of Smokey's Lounge however, is definitely more up in the air. For many Salem patients, that is a grave disappointment.

Bonnie King has been with since August '04, when she became Publisher. Bonnie has served in a number of positions in the broadcast industry; TV Production Manager at KVWB (Las Vegas WB) and Producer/Director for the TV series "Hot Wheels in Las Vegas", posts as TV Promotion Director for KYMA (NBC), and KFBT (Ind.), Asst. Marketing Director (SUPERSHOPPER MAGAZINE), Director/Co-Host (Coast Entertainment Show), Radio Promotion Director (KBCH/KCRF), and Newspapers In Education/Circulation Sales Manager (STATESMAN JOURNAL NEWSPAPER). Bonnie has a depth of understanding that reaches further than just behind the scenes, and that thoroughness is demonstrated in the perseverance to correctly present each story with the wit and wisdom necessary to compel and captivate viewers.

View articles written by Bonnie King

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Victim November 19, 2012 4:45 pm (Pacific time)

This whole thing was planned by detective Sean Bennet from the Salem PD. He paid one of his informents to make the 911 call. He has that little bitty $%$%and syndrome........:(

Fred May 28, 2012 9:15 pm (Pacific time)

I get the Steve the plumber thing. Add "the plumber" to your first name and make inane right wing nit wit statements. It worked for that Joe guy didn't it? A year or so of right wing drivel and you too can quit plumbing and become a Tea Bag personality. Maybe even run for congress?

Friend of Smokeys March 23, 2012 12:12 am (Pacific time)

Help Smokey free Lupe! We need as much help as we can get please donate whatever you can to get her out of jail her family needs her ...Wells Fargo account #5028160355...I would like to say thanks to all of Smokey's great customers. Smokey loves you all!

Grassman March 14, 2012 11:55 pm (Pacific time)

Who needs meds? Ommp.only;)

Anonymous March 14, 2012 8:38 am (Pacific time)

Did the Salem PD "convince" you to remove the reference to those bastions of "professionalism" that are Hoffmeister and Birr? Great bunch down there. Really respectful. Excellent leaders. Really... Top notch.

Tom March 13, 2012 6:24 pm (Pacific time)

Now i did not say i did not agree that people who break the laws were subject to get busted by the police, All I stated was that it would not be hard to believe that some evidence might have been planted, I have no proof either way, what actually happened, but as more news and a list of what actually was found and given to the news, then all i can say is best ofluck to eddie and maria, becuz from that if htey are found guilty, then they are screwed and mmost likely serve time. But i know for a fact when that side window was broken and thatit had been boarded uo ever since then, that was what i was referring to as the police using that minor crime two years ago as a excuse to close them down. I harbor no ill wishes against eddie or anyone but if they violated the law, then as my dad once told me, you do the crime, you do the time. to answer a question also on kato news comments what is a legal tobacco shop, you dont carry any product that is considered not a tobacco pipe, you dont carry any spices, salts, or dried MJ in your stoe, you dont haver dirty pipes or any amount of MJ in your shop, your home or your otehr businesses or vechicles. and you dont use any medicine that yorunot legally license to use. or prescription that is not legally given to you by a doctor. In your goals of becoming the bestin yourlocal area, youalso gotta remember the law and work with the police, not against them in any business. If youdont do that then justy like my friend eddie andhis girlfriend, you'll be looking at jail time. I used to have a tobacco shop also about ten years ago or so, and never would i have ever dreamed of allowing any items that were found in each location to be broughtinto my store by anyone. and as to my typing, well all i can say is my excuse is i am legally blind and do the best i can in typing even with errors and no I dont Use MJ, cannot stand the taste or smell of an6y smoe items, just by you walking byme, i can tell wether you smoke or dont and the stink from any of that smoke makes me ill, but i do agree that everytone has the right to smoke if they choose too, as long as they do it legally, for those who dont do it legally, all i can say is if your caught, then you'll most likely do the time associated with it.

Anonymous March 13, 2012 8:08 am (Pacific time)

I can tell you from direct experience that the Salem PD has used the "excuse" that they witnessed a "sign of burglary" as a reason to invade a home when they want access. I plain-clothed detective visited my home years ago, and I witnessed HIM putting a muddy footprint on my front door, then he went back to his car for a couple of minutes and then went to my door and pounded on it. I answered the door and he inquired who I was and when I told him, he said, "OK. I just saw signs of a burglary that I had to check out." I put in a complaint to the Salem PD, and that is when I realized that they must all be 1) scumbags or 2) protectors of scumbags.

March 12, 2012 3:06 pm (Pacific time)

The Editor says, "BTW, you can take night classes and rediscover the art of correct spelling".  You probably should have saved this childish snarkiness for "Tom" instead of "Steve the plumber".  Steve asks a legitimate question:  why do these people need lounges?  The best you can do is respond with: "they need them because they need them".   I have faith you can do better than this.

Editor: Right but his condescending approach doesn't really merit a serious answer, but since you called me on being 'snarky' (I like that- snark snark) I will ask you why anyone seeks a gathering place, a common zone.  There is nothing evil about this whole subject, people widely use pot and yet many really don't understand and see it as subversive behavior or whatever description one chooses.  In the end the pot smokers are simply a large aspect of society, people don't have to like it, but the state law protecting it needs to be better followed, and the 1000 feet of a school law is a terrible idea, common sense tells a person that is terribly overbearing.  I hope I gave both of you a respectable answer, it seems an unnecessary question, however you don't and OK. 

It's a plant, God placed it on this earth.  Our forefathers smoked it for goodness sake and if you call me out on that, I will fetch up links that offer strong documentation.  Abe Lincoln too, and it was the state of Kentucky's number one crop for years.  It was a primary ingredient in a large number of medicines and very popular all the way into the late 20's when Dow Chemical created 'synthetic rope' and they knew that the fiber from the hemp plant was one of the strongest natural fibers in existence.  They had to get the natural product off the market in order to push their new rope made in pollution-belching factories.  Yeah, great job corporate America.  So the feds worked with Hearst Newspapers to demonize marijuana.  The approach to criminalize cannabis also relied heavily on racism, Black Jazz Musicians were targeted and of course the Pancho Villa Revolutionary soldiers who were cruel used marijuana, but it had nothing to do with people outside of bloody revolutions using it, the Mexican raiders' use was coincidental, but used to the hilt.  Then of course as Dr. Leveque has written so many times,  the movie 'Reefer Madness' portrayed all pot users as homicidal maniacs and people freaked out over that propaganda in the 30's and many have never recovered.  

So there is some background, I hope people reading this now understand a little more.  The Canadian and Israeli governments use it to treat combat vets and regardless of what anyone says, we know of hundreds of PTSD Vets who claim it to be the most helpful thing in existence, and for that specific reason I will always work to insert clarity and sanity into this legal madness.  I hate the idea of people being locked up for something that grows naturally, no government really has a right to do that, and the archaic laws are a primary reason for people seeing laws as less than legitimate today, the law should be sound and logical, it is not.

freedom removed March 12, 2012 11:53 am (Pacific time)

you should never think you are really free anymore in america is steadily becoming a different place with more new laws adding to the rules without getting rid of old out of date laws being

tom March 12, 2012 4:18 am (Pacific time)

have any of you wondered aboutt he fact of the investigation starting out with a aleeged robbery, and the fact that the broken window was almost two years ago when eddie lara first moved into the downtown mall. The local police was and is just using that as a excuse to close smokeys louge down. I've known eddie for overr 15 years, I supplie dhis inventory of incense sticks for his gift shop and he bought me out of my inventory when i closed down my own gift shop. I've never know eddie of doing cocaine either and i find it very easy to believe that the police planted said cocaine in the lounge becuz they could not find anythign that would stick to bust eddie. no prrof of that but I still find it easy to believe. and whydid it take so long to get a warrant to investigate a minor crime that happened two years before eddie even opened up his lounge, and then you also need to remember the threatening letters from the feds to smokey's lounge also.

Steve the plumber March 12, 2012 12:59 am (Pacific time)

Why do they need a lounge to smoke thier "medicine"? I don't see a lounge where all the diabetics sit around and test thier blood sugar levels and shoot up insulin. How about a kemo or prozac lounge.Now were talkin. How about this" everthing a COPD patient needs". The whole MML is just one big joke and everone knows it.

Editor: Let's see, they need a safe place to go because of stupid laws that fail to serve the public. They need them because they need them- really a fairly needless question.    Sorry you are so painfully uneducated about this, you probably shouldn't make public statements.  BTW, you can take night classes and rediscover the art of correct spelling.. 

Geezerkatz March 10, 2012 2:41 pm (Pacific time)

They didn't listen then. They aren't listening now. I don't think they ever will. (lyrics Don McClean). I live only on ssa. The Salem PD has damaged me and others with legal Medical Marijuana permits. The Salerm PD seems to have "decided " to make my life and pain I suffer from, as a properly licensed and trained physician PRESCRIBED for me. I am 73, no police records, no traffic citations and a US Air Force vet. I have worked with addicts in group therapy at CTF Soledad. In my medical transactions with Mr. Lara I have had interactions with both employees of Lara as well as the many patients who were able to fill their scripts in a safe operation. No one ever got through Laras doors without producing both an Oregon drivers license and a current MML card. I visited Smokeys for my own personal medical needs. I am quite sure the employees could easily not card people that they know have cards and legal license to use MM..BUT, no, in fact Smokeys ALWAYS "recarded" all of its customers, no exceptions.

Sam March 10, 2012 10:05 am (Pacific time)

Never, ever trust a police officer. They are not your friend. Driven by a sociopathic desire to control, they bust when their numbers go down and the federal dollars slow. Stop the abuse!!!

Karin March 10, 2012 10:03 am (Pacific time)

Stephen, At least you and I know more about what is going on in this messed up world. Now, if only we could only Wake Up a few other people, but alas, reading the comments on just this one thread makes it evident that this part of the country is just as dumbed-down as the rest. As far as the "white powder" aka cocaine charge, how did they get a lab test back that fast to know it was tha substance, and 2. have any of you EVER heard of police officers planting evidence? Not that this is the case here, but good grief, there is an awful lot of ass u ming in comments posted here. Let's be civil and not condem people before they have ever been tried in a court of 'law'. Thanks Bonnie for checking this story out. Anyone that does't believe that the police need to be policed has blind faith and that is never a good standard, especially in such corrupt times including the blatant big corporation buy out of our Federal Govt. PS. the 'go hillary' (not hilary) remark slays me, sorry. She lost, but took the the harder job of saying such classic lines as: "We came, We saw, He's dead" huge guffaw (laugh). As far as I'm concerned, those few words tells me more about that woman than a lifetime of speaches. Get over it 'hilery' lost. :)

I miss Bush Jr March 10, 2012 8:23 am (Pacific time)

Wow, even the devil/dummy George Bush Jr didn't direct the AG's office to relentlessly attack MMJ. Obama said he would respect personal rights and MMJ rights, but then directed the agencies to go way more nazi than Bush Jr ever dreamed. MMJ users had more rights under Bush Jr than under Obama, yet Bush Jr is the one that is considered the radical nutjob and he specifically said he does not support state's rights or MMJ.

Slant City March 9, 2012 5:59 pm (Pacific time)

Jeez, isn't it false advertising to call such a slanted piece "news"?

Editor: Call it whatever you want, we're just glad so many people are reading it.  

illario March 9, 2012 10:49 am (Pacific time)

obama is a lier, the white house stated through the U.S. DA office that his administration would respect the medical marijana laws enacted by the states. obama is a liar......go hilary!!!!!

stephen March 8, 2012 7:16 pm (Pacific time)

Editor: noted...thanks. :-)

Anonymous March 8, 2012 7:02 pm (Pacific time)

When the not so scummy pigs decide to turn in their scum brothers and acknowledge that they have allowed illegal behavior to go unpunished, the police will get respect. Until then, they will continue to sow what they reap.

Anonymous March 8, 2012 4:55 pm (Pacific time)

M. Smith says, "STOP PAYING FEDERAL TAXES". 50% of the people are way ahead of you on this. Roughly half of all wage earners pay no federal income taxes. Hint: if you get it all back at the end of the year as a "refund", you did not pay. Obama wants people to "pay their fair share". He can start by collecting federal income taxes on the 50% who are paying nothing. Who carries the water for these people? The "rich" who pay the majority of federal income taxes.

stephen March 8, 2012 3:18 pm (Pacific time)

Bob: I am not a hater of law enforcement, I am a hater of those who teach them. This article did not mention cocaine. It mentioned marijuana, there is a huge difference. I HATE METH and COCAINE! I have a CHL which means I dont even have a misdemenor..(sp),, I look at marijuana as a medical benefit.. I use to smoke, but not really anymore, it just kinda makes me tired these days..I am getting old :-). But that does not change the FACT that marijuana is an herb that is helpful to many..And, if you ask any police officer, they LOVE arresting pot smokers, or heroin addicts, because they dont fight back..Its an easy arrest for them. In my humble opinion, this has to stop. Most bad problems come from those who take anti-depressants (sp)...which are legal...wake up!

Editor: To clarify, there is a cocaine charge.   The nature of the shops was medical marijuana oriented as you said Stephen, we are getting new information and will carry, thanks. 

Bob Gallagher March 8, 2012 2:30 pm (Pacific time)

It would be interesting to know how many of the law enforcement haters here have a criminal record or partake in illegal activity like illicit drug use. Not everything is a conspiracy. Some things are just what they seem. As in this case, cocaine possession. Not everyone is a victim. Life is about choices and the consequences of those choices. You are not a victim of the police, the 1%, Wall Street, Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, the "rich", sasquatch, corporations, Big Oil, Betty White, or anything else. You have every opportunity to succeed. If you make good life and financial decisions, you will prosper. If you make poor decisions, you will be sitting in the Marion County Jail on a charge of cocaine possession. One question: they were charged with "being too close to a school"? I doubt it. You can walk right up to a school and touch it if you'd like. Dealing drugs within 1000 feet of a school is another story.

Michael Smith March 8, 2012 2:20 pm (Pacific time)

STOP PAYING FEDERAL TAXES !!!! That is how you cut the head off the snake. Just like we did to the King not so long ago.

stephen March 8, 2012 10:21 am (Pacific time)

To anon..Its too late to be concerned about being anon. Salem-news, knows my name, and I even gave my address, IP and that I am in doesnt matter anymore. The powers to be know that marijuana is a medical miracle, they cant support because...The pharma industry cannot patent an herb, and the pharma industry controls our government..It came from the Rockefeller cartel..They want total control over our health, and any type of herbal medical help, they will kill..They do the same with technology..If someone came out with a solar panel that was cheap, they would either recruit them, or kill them..Its that simple..Our country is now owned by the U.N/NATO...I hear talk of the impeachment of obama, which I approve of, but they will just put another person in that is worse..Not sure what to say, but if people dont wake up from the MSM, political, video game, sports, TRANCE, we are all in for big trouble. Its probably too late already.

Anonymous March 8, 2012 10:05 am (Pacific time)

EVERYBODY knows this is nothing but a political arrest, and possibly a setup. The cops have wanted to do this for months, there is a strong rumor floating downtown that the cocaine was planted, I can't say for certain, but it sure seems odd does it not? Salem PD like all cops today, has officers who sport a vendetta toward medical marijuana patients.  So now everyone knows what police do when you are victimized, they sting you again they take advantage of the political circumstances.  I have a feeling that this will not end so bad for this couple, the cops can play their shenanigans but that doesn't mean they will emerge victorious.  Everyone reading this in Oregon, I hope you are paying attention, this screams of crooked police work and an overt lack of integrity.  

Nory King March 8, 2012 9:06 am (Pacific time)

How horrifying. It seems to me that the federal government greatly benefits from the illegality of marijuana which is why they refuse to respect the 10th Amendment and a state's right to govern itself. Tragic.

jon list March 8, 2012 8:37 am (Pacific time)

Just vote no every thing for salem pd salem sheriff power to vote. Theneveryone send demad as there payer yes your taxes! To pd ia dept. Whe is the police names and judge that granted your tax money this bs. All the time I see meth and pill heads up and down lancaster. Salem oregon cops don't use rules!

Bob Gallagher March 8, 2012 7:57 am (Pacific time)

Cocaine? Maybe they should change the name from Smokey's to Snorty's. Sadly, the rule of law isn't for everyone.

TYC March 8, 2012 7:49 am (Pacific time)

Thanks for the informative article. Keep up the good work!

Johnny Green March 8, 2012 6:18 am (Pacific time)

As a personal friend of Ed and Lupe, I'm very, very sad to see this happen. I will be praying for them.

Anonymous March 8, 2012 4:49 am (Pacific time)

Oh, I should make sure that I identify that the foregoing is MY OPINION. Even though I know it to be factual. I also know that if you have someone in your neighborhood that you want to be "investigated" that you are advised to break their window when they are not home and then call the police to report a burglary. They will certainly check out the home for you.

Anonymous March 8, 2012 4:45 am (Pacific time)

Don't trust those po-pos to be honest with you. They are headed by dishonest, corrupt pieces of sh*t. They are rotten through and through and those who might be considered honest chose to turn their heads away, making them just as bad. Cowards don't allow the CONSTITUTION to be trampled with impunity. It is too bad I have to be Anonymous in order to protect my identity against these scum...

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