|Photo: Jessica Nuna|
|This photo was taken by an employee inside Medical Herb Providers dispensary in Spokane, Washington during the raid|
One Drug Enforcement Administration agent, accompanied by about a dozen Spokane Police officers, on Wednesday raided at least three medical marijuana dispensaries in Washington state.
Medical Herb Providers (MHP), Essence of Mother Earth and Alternative MMD were all raided separately, reports Curtis Cartier at the Seattle Weekly.
According to Jessica Nuna of MHP, by the time law enforcement left that shop, they had taken about 32 cannabis plants, $1,400 in cash, several ounces of dried marijuana flowers and several laptop computers, cellphones and other electronic devices.
“They were pretty nice, until I started calling the press,” Nuna told the Weekly.
|Photo: Jessica Nuna|
|Member of the Spokane Police Department taking part in the raid of MHP on Wednesday|
The agents who raided MHP left several edible cannabis products and other items behind, but failed to leave a receipt itemizing everything they took, including the money they seized, according to Nuna.
Nobody was arrested, but the shop’s owner, Jerry Laberdee, was questioned for some time, she said.
Nuna promised that the MHP dispensary is “not done” and that rallies and a possible reopening are already in the works.
The DEA and Spokane Police Department both referred media to Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Rice, who works directly under U.S. Attorney Michael Ormsby, who has been promising such raids since early last month.
Rice, however, would only confirm that the raids had occurred. “It’s one of several,” he said referring to the MHP search warrant. “I can’t say any more than that because the operatings are ongoing,” Rice said, reports Thomas Clouse at the Spokane Spokesman-Review.
Federal agents raided seven Spokane dispensaries on April 29, but none of those cases has yet resulted in any charges.
|Photo: Gonzaga University|
|Spokane Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick says the department doesn’t have the resources to go after property crime anymore. They don’t have any problem raiding dispensaries where sick people get their medicine, though.|
Ormsby’s office in April sent dispensary operators notices advising them to shut down or risk “federal enforcement action.” Many of the estimated 40 dispensaries in Spokane reportedly complied — but not all of them.
Washington voters overwhelmingly approved the medicinal use of cannabis in 1998, but the ballot measure didn’t define how patients could legally obtain marijuana.
The state law allows for dispensaries under its “caretaker” provision, according to advocates, but a Spokane County Superior Court jury rejected that argument last month in the first drug-trafficking trial of a dispensary owner in Washington state.
Additionally, federal prosecutors note that while state law allows for the medicinal use of marijuana, federal law still considers all cannabis possession illegal.
“This is just the beginning of the raids,” said activist Steve Sarich of Seattle-based patient advocacy group CannaCare. “Our Legislature has to start sticking up for us. The voters voted for this. They are treating marijuana as a law enforcement issue. It’s not. It’s a medical issue.”
Sarich’s words were prophetic. As of about 2 p.m. Thursday afternoon, DEA and police were getting ready to stage another raid, gathering in the McDonald’s at Market and Garland in Spokane.
As pointed out by the Seattle Weekly‘s Curtis Cartier, nothing better illustrates the tragic misuse of public resources more than an ironic posting on the City of Spokane website, made just 90 minutes after SPD officers helped raid at least three dispensaries in town:
“We are at a critical point that requires us to severely limit property crime investigations and make additional choices about where to place resources,” [Spokane Police] Chief [Anne] Kirkpatrick said in a written statement. “We will always respond to 911 emergency response calls, but other investigations will be curtailed.”
So there you have it. The Spokane Police Department doesn’t have enough money or time to investigate property crimes, but if you’re providing sick people with medical marijuana? They have plenty of time to come see you.