Riverside County’s cannabis task force says it seized more than 100 pounds of cannabis and an estimated $75,000 to $100,000 in cash Friday, Sept. 14, from three sites where The Vault Church says it uses marijuana as a religious sacrament.
The task force, led by the District Attorney’s Office, served search warrants at three locations operated by The Vault: 291 N. Yale St., Hemet; 5298 Mission Blvd., Jurupa Valley; and 5024 Etiwanda Ave., Jurupa Valley. At the Etiwanda location, they also found two indoor grows, seized 200 to 300 plants in various stages of harvest and found what they believe to be the remnants of a butane honey oil lab, according to a news release.
About 20 members of The Vault protested during the raid, said Gladys Camacho, a member of the church.
“The church has been violated of its rights but will continue to fight for what we believe in,” she wrote in an email. “We need people to understand we are NOT A DISPENSARY but a church who is trying to only do good towards our community.”
Camacho said all three locations are now shut down but would like to reopen as soon as possible. She referred questions about the church allegedly selling marijuana — which it advertises on Weedmaps.com — to church pastors, who did not return phone calls Friday.
While Californians voted in 2016 to allow the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana, state law allows cities to ban dispensaries and other types of businesses. Both Hemet and Jurupa Valley have bans in place, and both cities have ballot measures in November that could allow commercial businesses.
The task force is intended to protect properly licensed, legal cannabis businesses and protect the environment and consumers, not to shut down legally operating facilities, district attorney’s spokesman John Hall said in the news release.
No arrests were made Friday, and the investigation is ongoing, Hall said.