Medical marijuana activist Kevin Saunders of Marina figured the hammer would come down soon.
Still, he said he didn't expect to be arrested on maijuana sales charges by "SWAT dudes dressed like ninjas with guns."
"They could have called me in, and they could have easily arrested me," Saunders said Monday. He said he spent a night in Monterey County Jail before being freed on a $60,000 bond posted Saturday.
Members of the Peninsula Regional Violent Narcotics Team arrested Saunders early Friday afternoon at a Marina coffee shop and searched homes associated with his business in Marina and Seaside. Saunders said the homes belonged to his mother and former girlfriend.
Saunders, 43, has been an outspoken and controversial medical marijuana advocate on the local scene for more than a year. He says he will run for mayor of Marina next year after fruitlessly trying to persuade the City Council there to legalize medical marijuana dispensaries.
Saunders also clashed with officials at the Monterey County of Law, which got a restraining order against him in September after he allegedly harassed staff and students.
"This was a political hit," Saunders said Monday of his arrest.
The District Attorney's Office said Saunders was arrested on three felony counts of selling or offering to sell marijuana on Oct. 25, Dec. 5 and Dec. 13. The charges were filed last Thursday, a day before Saunders' arrest.
Cmdr. Bruno Dias of the narcotics team said officers believe that Saunders was selling marijuana to people without proper medical marijuana cards.
"Our goal is not to target individuals who are using marijuana for medical purposes or businesses providing people with marijuana for legitimate purposes," Dias said Monday. "We have reason to believe he was not operating within the guidelines."
Saunders said he always checks to make certain that a customer has proper identification. The only times he said he hasn't is with people who obviously have an acute medical problem, such as terminal cancer or AIDS.
His arrest came a few days after Saunders declared he was using medical marijuana oil at a Marina City Council meeting in front of the council, police chief and video cameras. "That sealed it," he said.
Saunders said Friday's raid resulted in the seizure of three ounces of marijuana and about 20 plants. But he said the raid "wiped out my life's work" of breeding marijuana plants to provide medical benefits.
Saunders said he believes undercover officers posed as two construction workers claiming to have back problems in seeking medical marijuana from him. He said one called him Friday, seeking a pound of marijuana. He told him that quantity was illegal and delivered an ounce minutes before his arrest.
He said he received $140 — about half the going market rate — for an ounce of specially bred marijuana without the intoxicating agent. "I groom it specially for people who don't want to get high," he said.
Saunders said he will fight the charges and seek a public defender to represent him. He said he was astonished the District Attorney's Office would press the charges against him with public opinion leaning toward decriminalizing marijuana.
"I am a poor businessman who gives away my product," he said.
Larry Parsons can be reached at 646-4379 or email@example.com.