Smokey's Lounge In Salem, Oregon Was Raided By Local Police
Smokey's Lounge in Salem, Oregon was raided Tuesday, making it the third 'official' medical marijuana "dispensary" in Oregon to be raided. Unlike medical marijuana "dispensary" raids in other states, all three raids in Oregon were by locate police. However, unlike previous raids which were isolated to Washington County Oregon, this raid was in Marion County Oregon, multiple counties away. In Washington County, the sheriff's office has gone rogue and has been harassing medical marijuana patients and entrepreneurs for quite some time now. But the raid in Salem is different.
The owners of Smokey's lounge are my personal friends. I drove past their lounge often, and would even go in there to play arcade games and catch up with Smokey (real name is Ed Lara) from time to time. I actually drove past his lounge on Tuesday morning when I was on my way to the Capital Mall, and saw a police car out front, and a raid style van on the other side of the building. I immediately text my friend to make sure everything was OK. I never received a text back, which got me very worried. My worries were well founded. I drove back later in the day, and the raid was in full force.
The only major media report about this, so far, is from the legendary reporters at Salem-News.Com. Here is an excerpt from Bonnie King's article:
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.
Smokey's had received multiple threatening letters from the feds, which I personally read. I won't lie, I was a bit scared when I read the letters because of the language that was used. They weren't generic letters that were sent to other dispensary owners that I knew; these were personal letters, which almost gave me nightmares and they weren't even addressed to me! Smokey would often tell me that he wasn't worried about the feds because he wasn't doing anything wrong; he was simply helping patients. To prove his sincerity, Smokey teamed up with Oregon Green Free which is one of the oldest OMMP organizations in the state, if not the oldest. He let the organization have their meetings at the lounge free of cost.
Oddly enough, it wasn't the feds that are attacking Smokey's lounge. Under the disguise of an attempted burglary investigation, the cops then pursued a warrant for 'probable cause' and used the tactic to raid the lounge and charge Smokey and his girlfriend with 22 felonies combined. The police say that one of Smokey's headshops was broken into, and when they were investigating that, they randomly decided to check all of Smokey's other properties and ended up at his lounge. Hell of a hunch right? What's weird to me, is that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Smokey and his employees took all of the meds off site at the end of the day. How the police found anything that they would deem 'felony worthy' doesn't make sense. If they indeed raided the lounge when it wasn't open, they would have found nothing.
However, 22 felonies later, Smokey and his girlfriend are sitting in county jail, each assigned a half-million dollar bail. One of the charges for Smokey and Lupe were for possession of cocaine. If you have ever believed anything I have ever written on this site or others, believe me when I say that I know for a fact that neither of these two are cocaine consumers. I have been close friends with Smokey for over 20 years, I have smoked more marijuana with him than most other people on the planet have smoked in their life, and never, ever have I seen or heard of him doing cocaine. I'm not going to go as far as saying there is a conspiracy at hand, but I'm not saying this investigation is totally clean either. It smells very, very fishy.
Smokey is an Oregon icon. But don't take my word for it, here is another excerpt from Bonnie King's article for Salem-News.com:
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.
One of my first interviews I ever did at TWB was actually with Smokey. It was before he owned his lounge, back when he had first moved from his headshop from it's first location to downtown. I'm going to try to send some e-mails and texts to see if I can't get more answers. I know his attorney pretty well, and if he feels comfortable passing me along some info, I will gladly update this article to reflect the new info. If you are a "dispensary" owner in Oregon, I would be on watch. As I said before, this raid did not involve the feds, it wasn't in Washington County, and yet the "dispensary" was still ransacked. Will this happen to other "dispensaries" in Salem, and/or beyond? Only time will tell.