Federal agents carry away stolen merchandise, I mean “evidence,” March 15, 2010
Drug Enforcement Agency agents, with the help of the Los Angeles Police Department and Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, raided two medical marijuana dispensaries in West Hollywood, California on Tuesday. It was the first such action in the city since the Obama Administration decided two years ago to take a hands-off approach to dispensaries in compliance with state laws.
The federal warrants were served on the Zen Healing Collective and on Alternative Herbal Health Services, and one individual was taken into custody, which may result in arrest. Both shops were among the four dispensaries the city had authorized to operate, reports John Hoeffel at The Los Angeles Times.
West Hollywood was one of the first California cities to regulate medical marijuana, and is often cited as model for how well medicinal cannabis can be handled by a municipality.
“This is incredibly unsettling that the DEA would strike permitted collectives in a sanctuary city,” said Dege Coutee of the Patient Advocacy Network. “I hope that this is not going to be indicative for what the rest of our summer season will look like.”
“It’s a very unpleasant surprise, of course,” said Don Duncan, California director of Americans for Safe Access (ASA), a medical marijuana patient advocacy organization.
Duncan said the DEA had conducted a total of around a dozen raids in California since the Obama Administration adopted its new approach. “That’s obviously disappointing, although it is an order of magnitude less than what we saw under the Bush Administration,” he said. “My guess is these are one-off raids. I don’t believe this is part of a sweep.”
Agents refused to speak on camera, but DEA spokesperson Sarah Pullen gave this statement to Reason.tv:
DEA, with the assistance of the LAPD and the LASD served federal search warrants at approx. 210 pm this afternoon, March 15, 2011, as part of an on-going investigation. The warrants are federal and under seal by order of the court. Locations were 7800 and 8400 blocks of Santa Monica blvd, West Hollywood. We have one individual in custody right now, which may result in an arrest. Since the warrants are under seal I am unable to discuss any details regarding the warrants or investigation at this time.
When asked in February 2009 about raids on medical marijuana dispensaries in California, Attorney General Eric Holder indicated raids would end on state-approved dispensaries.
“What the president said during the campaign … will be consistent with what we will be doing here in law enforcement … What (President Obama) said during the campaign … is now American policy,” Holder said.
Obama told the Medford Mail Tribune in Oregon during the 2008 campaign, “I’m not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue.”
Los Angeles voters less than a week ago passed Measure M, the “pot tax,” which will tax medical marijuana dispensaries by collecting $50 out of every thousand dollars made.