Kent Kelley, Laguna Beach Shopkeeper, Arrested in "Largest" Marijuana Raid in Santa Barbara History

​​​At about 8 a.m. on Aug. 12, more than two dozen Santa Barbara County narcotics detectives raided a 50-acre property just above the 101 Freeway near the Dos Pueblos Ranch. Inside nine large greenhouses they discovered between $40 million and $80 million worth of marijuana plants and another $1 million of processed cannabis. Authorities are now calling this the largest haul of its kind in Santa Barbara history. 

Arrested during the raid were two men, John Freeman Dodson, 57, and Kelvin Kent Kelly, 61, both of whom were charged with felony pot possession (for sale) and felony marijuana cultivation, according to an Aug. 13 article in the Santa Barbara Daily Sound

Kelley may be familiar to readers of OC Weekly as the owner of the Laguna Beach-based clothing shop Cherry Moon, and before that, San Clemente's Blind Faith gallery, a reincarnation of a 1960s era shop he ran in Laguna Beach. He also used to sweep floors at Laguna's Mystic Arts World, a headshop on Pacific Coast Highway that was established in 1967 by the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, and which burned down in a mysterious June 1970 fire considered by many to have been an act of arson carried out by local members of the right-wing John Birch Society. (Kelley shared some memories about Mystic Arts World for my July 2005 article about the Brotherhood, "Lords of Acid," which I also included in my recent book, Orange Sunshine: The Brotherhood of Eternal Love and Its Quest to Spread Peace, Love and Acid to the World, Thomas Dunne Books, March 2010.)

"This is actually ludicrous," said Essence Kelley, Kent's sister. "He wasn't the owner of the property, and he had nothing to do with the growing operation. He and this other guy just happened to be there." The Daily Sound article said the property was leased by an unspecified party from an unspecified owner, who reportedly had no knowledge of the pot farm. "The raid comes after sheriff's detectives concluded a weeklong effort to destroy illegal marijuana gardens in the hills above Santa Barbara last month," the article states. "Authorities seized and destroyed 91,000 plants in the backcountry. The street value of those destroyed plants is estimated at $182 million.

This isn't the first time Kelley was caught up in law enforcement's zeal to crack down on marijuana, medical otherwise. On Jan. 17, 2007, he was briefly detained (but not arrested) when DEA agents raided what was then the largest cannabis dispensary in Los Angeles, the Farmacy, where Kelley was working at the time, as well as 10 other medical marijuana providers. 

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8 comments
Carriew1975
Carriew1975

I've known Kent for a long time and know he had no part of this. FREE KENT KELLEY!!!!

Mort
Mort

I worked in the Mystic Arts World store and believe me we harmed no one and further more we did not burn down the store.But I know who did so does the rest of us.

He who speaks, does not knowHe who knows, does not speak

DeeDee
DeeDee

Yeah right - Kelley just happened to be there at 8AM in the morning - just stumbled into the place - took a wrong turn off the freeway.

I love the sister's comment: "This is actually ludicrous," she said. "He wasn't the owner of the property, and he had nothing to do with the growing operation. He and this other guy just happened to be there." Hey sis, what were they doing there - setting distribution plans?

Though we need to pass the marijuana initiative in November and make the stuff legal and stop the war on drugs, I wonder if the braindead Californians will defeat it while they elect Meg Whitman - in 6 months this growing operation may be totally legit.

Luca V
Luca V

BackdoorJesus, I was thinking the same thing!! Plus add all the pot busts in California for the current year... lots and lots of money there

Schadenfreude
Schadenfreude

The JBS would be all for it - just so long as it was their candidates in office taking orders from them. I'm talking John Birch Paranoid behavior here - if you aren't with them then you, like Ike and his brother, are a commie. Protecting our Precious Bodily Fluids from commie plots has no limits, as AuH2O said, �I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice!"

In the immortal words of Bircher & movie star Gen. Jack Ripper on the perils of fluoridation, "Nineteen hundred and forty-six. Nineteen forty-six, Mandrake. How does that coincide with your post-war Commie conspiracy, huh? It's incredibly obvious, isn't it? A foreign substance is introduced into our precious bodily fluids without the knowledge of the individual. Certainly without any choice. That's the way your hard-core Commie works."

Nick Schou
Nick Schou

The short answer: read the book. The long answer is that a person quoted in the book says that a local JBS guy bragged of such a scenario after the fact. What really happened is unknown, and I quote people with the less widely held belief that the hippies burned the store down themselves. What basis exists for either view is up to readers to decide for themselves. Either way I wonder what the JBS of today would think of government agents invading private property in the name of plant eradication? Your thoughts?

ernie1241
ernie1241

What possible basis was there for making the statement that..."the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, and which burned down in a mysterious June 1970 fire considered by many to have been an act of arson carried out by local members of the right-wing John Birch Society." ???

Why was the JBS suspect?

BackdoorJesus
BackdoorJesus

Just an aside...

If you figure CA state & local sales tax runs around 8% depending on location...

...and 8% of $182,000,000 is $14,560,000...

...that's 14.5 million in potential revenue that the SBPD just lost the state.

Good job gentlemen.

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