|From left, activists Anthony Martinelli, Cydney Moore, Daniel Erdmann and Steve Phun protest at the Federal Building in Seattle on Wednesday|
About 40 medical marijuana patients were stirred into action on Wednesday, protesting at the Federal Building in Seattle after Tuesday’s raids by the federal government on dispensaries across Western Washington.
“I can’t tell you how wonderful it was to see over 40 committed activists in the cold and rain in front of the Federal Building today,” said activist Don Skakie of legalization effort Yes End Penalties Washington (YEP WA). “Forty might not seem like much to some, but they represent many who could not, weren’t able or were just plain too scared to show up to defend our rights and tell the Feds to back off.”
One of those patients, 28-year-old Juliana Plemitscher, who treats her epilepsy with cannabis, said she wouldn’t normally join a public protest against marijuana laws outside the Federal Building, reports Scott Gutierrez at the Seattle P.I.
“It never really occurred to me to get involved in something like this, but when it was Seattle Cross that got shut down — those were good guys,” Plemitscher said. “It makes it kind of personal.”
|Protesters at the Federal Building in Seattle, November 16, 2011|
”It was a very professional place,” Plemitscher said, calling into question federal claims that only “noncompliant” dispensaries were targeted. “It reminded me of Starbucks.”
“One thing I liked about them is that they had enough locations, and they were a large organization, and they had the experience to let me know which strains were good for epilepsy and which strains I could avoid the sedating effect with,” Plemitscher said.
Since getting authorized for medical cannabis last year, Plemitscher said, she hasn’t had a single seizure. Before she used marijuana, she said she’d get them about three times a year.
Tuesday was the biggest day for federal medical marijuana raids in Washington since the state’s voters decided in 1998 to allow the medicinal use of cannabis for serious or debilitating illnesses.
Search warrants unsealed on Tuesday claim that law enforcement targeted more than a dozen dispensaries because they were distributing “large quantities” of marijuana, not following state medical marijuana laws and engaged in money laundering.
Some of the dispensaries, according to a federal news release, “were the subject of complaints from their surrounding communities as well as medical marijuana supporters, concerned about businesses operating outside the letter and spirit of state law.”
“Any state laws that purports to make the distribution of marijuana legal, for any purpose, does not provide a defense to federal law,” begins a search warrant affidavit by DEA Special Agent Daniel Olson. “However, our investigation is not currently targeting medical marijuana providers that comply with the letter and spirit of existing state laws.”
Did you notice that “currently” that Agent Olson got in there? That could easily be taken to imply that medical marijuana providers who are in compliance with state law could be next.
|Adamson and Ratta|
|Stephanie Bishop: “It appears none of the business owners in the Washington state DEA raids yesterday received these notices prior to the raid”|
Seattle activist Stephanie Bishop pointed out Wednesday night that dispensaries in other states which were subjected to federal raids got “Target Letters” from the DEA giving them 30 days to close up shop. No such letters were received by any of the businesses raided on Tuesday, according to Bishop.
“These letters come from the DEA and state that the business is selling a controlled, Schedule I substance against Federal law,” Bishop told Toke of the Town Wednesday night. “It points out that state law doesn’t supersede federal law, and gives the business owners 30 days to comply with the notice.
“It appears none of the business owners in the Washington state DEA raids yesterday received these notices prior to the raid,” Bishop said.
The Ballard and Rainier locations of Seattle Cannabis Co-Op, and the G.A.M.E. Collective Lounge in White Center were among the Seattle dispensaries targeted in the raids.
Seattle Cross, according to court papers, has three more locations in Tacoma, Lacey, and Lakebay, a small community on the Key Peninsula. Tacoma Cross and Lacey Cross were also targeted in the raids.
The affidavit claims that undercover detectives bought marijuana multiple times, sometimes without showing medical papers, at locations in Lacey and Tacoma. Authorities also claim that the owner and his business partner were implicated in an illegal marijuana grow operation last year in Pierce County.
“As we have previously stated, we will not prosecute truly ill people or their doctors who determine that marijuana is an appropriate medical treatment,” claimed U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan in a prepared statement. “However, state laws of compassion were never intended to protect brash criminal conduct that masquerades as medical treatment.”
Washington Gov. Chris Gregore earlier this year vetoed a portions of a bill that would have licensed medical marijuana dispensaries and created a registry of patients. Since then, the Seattle City Council enacted an ordinance that requires the shops to get business licenses, go by building codes and follow public-health regulations.