JURUPA VALLEY (CBSLA) – Authorities seized cash and marijuana Friday morning during a raid at a Jurupa Valley church which is accused of operating as an illegal marijuana dispensary.
The Riverside County District Attorney’s Office confirmed to CBS2 that law enforcement officers raided the Vault Church of Open Faith, located in the 5000 block of Etiwanda Avenue, as part of the DA’s recently created Cannabis Regulation Task Force.
The task force also raided properties at 5298 Mission Blvd. in Jurupa Valley and 291 N. Yale St. in Hemet. Both are associated with the Vault Church, the DA’s office said. The Hemet location is in a residential neighborhood.
Police seized “large amounts of marijuana and cash” in the raids, the DA’s office disclosed, but did not elaborate on the exact numbers. An indoor marijuana grow was also found at the church on Etiwanda Avenue.
Several church members held a protest outside the church following the raid. It was unclear if any arrests would be made.
Marijuana dispensaries are banned in Jurupa Valley and the city of Riverside.
“We will pursue investigations into unlicensed and illegal dispensaries,” the DA’s office Bureau of Investigation Chief Joe DelGiudice said in a statement. “These places operate outside of state laws and use unfair business practices that hurt legal dispensaries. They often supply untested and potentially harmful product to consumers, and promote criminal enterprise.”
The Vault Church, which was established about a year ago, is part of the Association of Sacramental Ministries, which believes that cannabis is essential to its religious sacrament.
In April, the association filed a $1.2 million lawsuit against the city of Jurupa Valley on behalf of the church, according to the Press-Enterprise, over allegations of discrimination and harassment.
The website Weedmaps, which catalogs pot dispensaries, lists the church as a marijuana dispensary, the Press-Enterprise reports.
The task force is made up of Riverside County Sheriff’s deputies and Hemet police officers.