DEA raids 18 4 Seattle-area medical marijuana dispensaries, were they justified?


Update – 2:55 p.m. 7/25/2013: According to the Associated Press, four dispensaries were targeted in raids yesterday, despite claims by one Washington attorney that as many as 18 were on the chopping block.
So far, Seattle Cross, Tacoma Cross, Key Peninsula Cross and Bayside Collective (formerly Lacey Cross) are the four dispensaries identified. All four were also parts of raids in 2011. The feds haven’t officially commented on it, but employees at Bayside Collective say agents told them that the raids were part of a two-year investigation.

Original story – 9:20 a.m. 7/25/2013: Federal agents shut down a number of medical marijuana dispensaries in the Puget Sound area yesterday, though Drug Enforcement Administration officials declined to comment on how many dispensaries or why they were being targeted in the first place. reports that a total of 18 dispensaries were targeted. [See update above)
According to an Associated Press report in the New Tribune, the dispensaries include the Bayside Collective. Employee Casey Lee says the feds took 12 live plants and a quarter pound of marijuana after serving him with the search warrant. They also took Lee’s cell phone (so don’t try calling him). Another employee said the DEA came in with guns drawn and told her it was part of an ongoing, two-year investigation.
Another dispensary, Bayside Gardens, was raided but says they remain open in protest on their facebook page: “We are still open! We may not have meds at the moment but we are still open! They will not keep us down! Thank You everyone for ALL of you support and love. We have no Meds, but we still have our dignity and we aren’t going anywhere.”
So, swing by there and pick up your rolling papers and support them. You might want to pay with cash, though.
While the raids suck, Dominic Holden over at The puts forth an interesting argument: Yes, Obama’s administration has been shitty with regards to medical marijuana and have spent a lot of money ($300 million) busting medical marijuana so far, but if these dispensaries weren’t operating within the letter of their state’s laws aren’t they asking for the feds (or the state for that matter) to step in and bust them?
He points to the owner of a Seattle medical pot shop that was recently busted selling pounds out the door to people without medical marijuana cards as one example of a dispensary owner who fits that description and ponders if that isn’t the case with those raided Wednesday. It’s an interesting argument and brings up the larger point that some pro-regulation/pro-cannabis folks have been saying all along: regulations keep the feds at bay.
All of that is pure speculation at this point, though. As Holden points out, the charging documents for the dispensaries raided yesterday have not been released yet and we here at Toke have not heard nothing of that nature yet about any of the shops that were shut down.
Either way, we would hope to see the feds leave things like medical marijuana regulations to the states that allow them — and that includes occasional enforcement.