The Merced Police Department served search warrants Friday and shut down Kiona’s Farm’acy in downtown Merced, alleging the business operated as a marijuana dispensary.
The police also ordered an investigation into business owner Lakisha Jenkins for possible tax evasion.
But Jenkins says her business is a nonprofit and agriculture cooperative that has been operating in California for more than a decade. Though the Farm’acy does sell cannabis to some members, who Jenkins said mostly are cancer patients, it also sells hundreds of herbs, teas and organic produce. Jenkins calls it a “holistic health center.”
She said the Merced Police Department and Merced County Sheriff’s Department eradicated a cannabis garden Sunday in a raid.
“I had the displeasure of informing one of our 17-year-old patients with uterine cancer that she no longer had a (cannabis) garden,” Jenkins said.
Merced police reported that the Farm’acy violated conditions of its business license because the city prohibits dispensaries. The Police Department served the business with a cease-and-desist letter in April, but Kiona’s Farm’acy continued its business, police said in a news release. Officers cited Jenkins for violating business-license provisions, but she refused to sign the citation.
The Police Department was contacted by the California State Board of Equalization, which suspected Jenkins of sales tax evasion. But Jenkins said her business is exempt from state and federal taxes because of its nonprofit status. While the search warrant was being served Friday, police seized volumes of financial records and several computers at the Farm’acy and Jenkins’ home.
Jenkins said she has served on the board of the California Cannabis Industry Organization, which works to legitimize the industry through legislation.
“If there’s anything I’m versed in, it’s the law,” Jenkins said. “I make sure our organization is in compliance with all laws at all times.”
Jenkins also operates dispensaries in Tracy, Turlock and Oakdale, police said. The Oakdale location has been the center of violence, police said. Both the Turlock and Oakdale sites have been shut down.
Jenkins was not arrested, but police said the investigation is ongoing.