|DEA agent Tuesday morning at Seattle Cannabis Co-op's location in the Rainier neighborhood|
Patient advocates and legal defense groups report that at least nine dispensaries have been raided, according to The Seattle Times. Ben Livingston of the patient advocacy group Cannabis Defense Coalition said he's spoken with several dispensary owners and defense attorney Aaron Pelley, who confirmed raids were occurring.
"I'm in shock because now I have no pain medicine," said patient Cameron Christenson outside of Seattle Cannabis Co-op on Rainer Avenue, reports David Rose at Q13 Fox News. "I can think of 100 crack houses in town -- why don't you go raid those?"
"It means people are going to have to go back out on the street and you don't know what you're getting," Christenson said. "It's going to be a nightmare."
The DEA has also confirmed the raids, reportedly performed by about a dozen federal agents along with local law enforcement, but is refusing to provide any further details, reports Curtis Cartier at Seattle Weekly. DEA spokesman Jodie Underwood told KOMO News that search warrants were being executed, but declined to say how many.
|Sheriff's investigators took part in the raids at Evergreen Medicinal in Puyallup, Washington on Tuesday morning|
Emily Langlie, a spokeswoman for Western Washington U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan, wouldn't comment but said she would have information later in the day.
Disturbingly, local sheriff's departments appear to have taken part in the raids, despite the fact that medical marijuana has been legal in Washington state for 13 years.
One of the raided dispensaries in Seattle was Seattle Cannabis Co-op in Crown Hill. A resident of the area said he saw DEA agents armed with a shield and a battering ram outside the dispensary about 11:10 a.m., and a young woman in handcuffs. Another report received by Toke of the Town confirmed the presence of federal agents in both the Ballard and Rainier locations of SCC.
|The G.A.M.E. Collective Lounge in White Center being raided Tuesday morning|
Seattle Cross on Capitol Hill was also hit Tuesday morning, according to Wes Abney, editor of Northwest Leaf, a local medical marijuana newspaper. And legalization group Sensible Washington told KOMO that searches have been conducted Tuesday at Seattle Cannabis Co-Op in Rainier Valley, at G.A.M.E. Collective's White Center and West Seattle locations, Seattle Cross on Capitol Hill, Tacoma Cross, and Lacey Cross, among others.
Dispensaries in King, Piece and Thurston counties were targeted for unknown reasons, reports KING 5 News, which flew over three separate businesses that were raided: the G.A.M.E. Lounge in White Center, and The Herbal Connection and Evergreen Medicinal, both in Puyallup.
|Medical marijuana dispensary The Healing Center in Olympia being raided Tuesday morning|
KING 5 News crews also went to raids at The healing Center and Olympia Patient Resource Center, both in Washington's capital city of Olympia.
Some of the raided dispensaries are in Graham, Parkland, and Spanaway, according to Pierce County Sheriff Detective Ed Troyer. Two shops in Lacey (Cannabis Outreach Services and Lacey Cross) and one in Rochester (Triple D's) were also raided, reports Jeremy Pawloski at The Olympian.
|David Rose/Q13 Fox News|
The operators and employees of the dispensaries are being "detained and questioned," Thurston County Sheriff's Lt. Greg Elwin said mid-day Tuesday.
Deputies are in the process of making arrests, as well, Elwin claimed, though he wouldn't be specific about how many people have been arrested so far.
"Our narcotics task force has been conducting an ongoing investigation for about the past five months into the medical marijuana dispensaries in Thurston County," Elwin said. "Today, that investigation culminated with five search warrants."
Elwin said he had heard of "similar investigations" in King and Pierce counties that were also "culminating" on Wednesday, so more raids may be occurring through tomorrow.
"This is yet another example of the Obama Administration breaking their promise to leave patients and providers alone when they are abiding by state medical marijuana laws," activist Don Skakie, with the legalization group Yes End Penalties Washington (YEP WA) told Toke of the Town Tuesday afternoon. "Clearly, they were lying to us."