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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