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  1. pathos
    Crackdown includes dispensaries in locations in King, Pierce and Thurston counties

    DEA agents, along with federal and local police officers, raided multiple marijuana dispensaries Tuesday under federal law that prohibits owners to distribute, sell and use medical marijuana.

    The coordinated sweep involved raids of five dispensaries in Pierce County, five dispensaries in Thurston County and at least six dispensaries in Seattle.

    DEA Special Agent Matthew G. Barnes released a statement that said the raids were conducted in part because these businesses were in violation of federal laws "for cultivating, selling or distributing marijuana under the guise of state medical marijuana laws and exploiting such activities to satisfy their own personal greed."

    Local medical marijuana users were surprised at the raids.

    "I'm in shock because now I have no pain medicine," Cameron Christenson said outside of the Cannabis Co-op on Rainier Avenue.

    Christenson suffers from chronic pain after having 17 surgeries on his leg for an infection that doctors have been unable to cure.

    He was on a portable morphine pump for two years and became addicted to the opiate. When he couldn't kick the habit, his doctor prescribed medical marijuana to ease his pain.

    "I can think of 100 crack houses in town — why don't you go raid them?" he asked.

    "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."

    Roy Fleetwood arrived at the dispensary to find its doors locked.

    "It's a sad day for medical marijuana users," he said. Fleetwood purchases pot brownies and other marijuana edibles for digestive issues. He's has been a medical marijuana user for the past six months.

    "This is a great collective garden here and they have 'medibles' and just coming here and shutting it down is absolutely ridiculous," Fleetwood said.

    Another medical marijuana user, Ben Holcomb, thinks it's OK that officials go after illegal dealers but does not think they should turn their focus to dispensaries.

    "I think the DEA should be targeting those that are selling to those that do not have a medical marijuana license," Holcomb said. Holcomb uses medical marijuana to alleviate arthritis pain in his knee.

    "Those people [selling on the black market], are going to be thrilled today," he said. "Their profits just went up."

    A news release from the Thurston County Narcotics Task Force said they had been investigating storefronts in the area that were operating as illegal dispensaries for the past five months in what they termed "Operation Green Sweep." Officials made numerous purchases of marijuana from the dispensaries. As a result, detectives secured search warrants for the businesses.

    The task force arrested 17 people, who were booked for unlawful possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver.

    The DEA issued a statement in regard to Tuesday's raids that said:

    "It has never been our policy to target individuals with serious illnesses ... The DEA remains committed to the enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) in all states."

    The statement iterated the DEA's right to exercise its "investigative authority to pursue criminal actions for any violation of federal law, when warranted." The department's investigations can include any individual or organization that "grow, manufacture or distribute any illegal drug to include marijuana, and those who rent or maintain a property to facilitate drug trafficking."

    SEATTLE—
    STATE LAWS V. FEDERAL LAWS

    The state of Washington is one of 16 states, along with the District of Columbia, that has passed legislation permitting medical marijuana use. However, that doesn’t translate into "legalization" of marijuana use, its growth and distribution.

    "Marijuana, even medical marijuana, is not legal under federal law, regardless of what our state law says," a spokesperson from Gov. Christine Gregoire's office said in regard to Tuesday's raids.

    "Until that changes, there is not a system to supply legitimate patients who may need medical marijuana. The governor has committed to seek a change in federal law for medical marijuana and it is a path she will continue to pursue."

    U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkin's office released a statement that said the businesses served with search warrants Tuesday "attracted the attention of federal law enforcement for a number of reasons: their failure to abide by state medical marijuana guidelines; indications that they were distributing large amounts of drugs; and evidence they were laundering large amounts of money."

    Some of the businesses that were targeted had been the subject of community complaints and one person involved with a dispensary was arrested for violating court-ordered terms of his parole for a prior federal conviction.

    It has been rumored for a while that there could be a federal crackdown on the dispensaries and grow operations as states and the federal government grapple with how to effectively deal with the legalities surrounding medical marijuana.

    Recently, Katrina Pflaumer, former U.S. attorney for the Western District of Washington, Robert Alsdorf an attorney and retired state Superior Court judge, and Anne Levinson, a former Municipal Court judge and deputy mayor of Seattle, have endorsed Initiative 502, which would decriminalize marijuana in Washington and seek to make "long-overdue change for the better in public policy," the group said in an opinion piece in the Seattle Times. Former Seattle FBI chief Charlie Mandigo has also said he endorses the initiative.

    In the November election, residents of Tacoma voted to make marijuana enforcement the lowest priority, passing the measure by a two-thirds vote.

    California has escalated the issue to the courts: Medical marijuana advocates have filed lawsuits in California's four federal judicial districts aimed at quickly winning court orders to halt the U.S. attorneys from closing dispensaries, the Los Angeles Times reported.

    One of the attorneys who filed the lawsuit, Matt Kumin, said that plaintiffs plan to ask the judges assigned to the cases for temporary restraining orders halting the crackdown of medical marijuana dispensaries.

    "The government has gone well down the road to allowing medical cannabis in the United States," Kumin told the Times. "It can't reverse itself now, particularly because of the promises it made to the American people and the federal judiciary. They're stuck."
    Lawsuits were filed Friday and Monday against U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, DEA head Michele Leonhart and each of the four federal prosecutors, including U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. in Los Angeles.

    At the executive level, President Obama and Holder have each said that it is not a priority of the federal government to prosecute or raid medical marijuana users and businesses, while others in federal law enforcement believe they are simply enforcing the law by cracking down on medical marijuana dispensaries.

    The legal quandary states find themselves in with federal, state or local agencies intent on enforcing federal law is causing ripples nationwide. States may allow for medical marijuana use, yet it is not an FDA-approved drug. And while the president and attorney general may state they have a more lenient view of medical marijuana use, overall the Obama administration opposes drug legalization. In a statement on its website, the official White House policy toes the following line: "Legalization threatens public health by increasing availability of drugs and undermining prevention activities. It also hinders recovery efforts and poses a significant health and safety risk to all Americans, especially our youth. Marijuana is a harmful drug and its use should be prevented and treated — not promoted. Outside the context of Federally approved research, the use and distribution of marijuana is prohibited in the United States."

    In these trying times, it’s also hard to turn down the revenue that licensing fees and taxation of medical marijuana businesses could generate for cash-strapped states — it is estimated the state of California could generate annual revenue between $1.5 billion and $4.5 billion and annual sales taxes of $50 million to $100 million. While Washington doesn't have the same number of registered dispensaries — there are a little more than 100 registered medical marijuana businesses in King County — the state still could see a sizeable revenue stream if medical marijuana sales and businesses were able to be taxed.

    Initial legislation in Washington state decriminalizing marijuana was enacted November 1998. The legislation removes state-level criminal penalties on the use, possession and cultivation of marijuana by patients who possess "valid documentation" from their physician that affirms the person suffers from a debilitating condition and that the "potential benefits of the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the health risks."

    The legislation has since gone through various amendments and in the latest legislative session Gregoire vetoed legislation that would have regulated dispensaries.

    DISPENSARIES RAIDED NOV. 15, 2011

    Green Earth, 10118 224 St. E., Graham, Wash.
    Magix Medz, 7824 River Rd. E., Puyallup, Wash.
    Herbal Connection, 6204 112th St. E., Puyallup, Wash.
    Club 420 North, 11457 Pacific Ave. S., Pacific, Wash.
    Evergreen Med'l, 9506 Canyon Rd. E., Tacoma, Wash.
    The Healing Center, 316 Capitol Way North, Olympia, Wash.
    Olympia Patient Resource Center, 420 Steele St. SE., Olympia, Wash.
    Lacey Cross, 4227 Pacific Ave. SE., Lacey, Wash.
    Cannabis Outreach Service, 5709 Lacey Blvd. SE. #104, Lacey, Wash.
    Triple D's, 21530 Old Hwy 99 SE., Grand Mound area, Wash.



    David Rose
    Q13 FOX News Online
    11:04 p.m. PST, November 15, 2011

    http://www.q13fox.com/news/kcpq-dea-raids-seattlearea-pot-dispensaries-20111115,0,3078011,full.story

    news video story embedded on linked story


    COMMENT:
    "This is demonstrates a disconnect between state and federal laws. While the state of Washington has allowed medical marijuana to be prescribed legally it remains a schedule I substance allowing the DEA complete impunity to prosecute anyone selling this "illegal" substance. Isn't this like saying that it is legal to prescribe a medication but not allowing an organization to sell that medication or manufacture it?

    It appears to be completely contradictory to me. I cannot see any real progress until the federal law is changed and MM is decriminalized. Then the states can set regulations and keep the damn feds out the mix entirely".
    The second link involves the "gray zone" of Medical Marijuana and speaks to what I am getting at.

    The Legislature tried to legalize dispensaries earlier this year, but Gov. Christine Gregoire vetoed the bill. This has left Washington in an untenable position: on one hand, we say that legitimate patients can use marijuana, but on the other, we don’t really let them obtain it.

Comments

  1. veritas.socal
    Re: Dispensaries raided again. Contradictions abound

    wow, that sucks

    in san diego, the feds are being lame...they are saying to landlords"if you rent to a dispensary, then we will prosecute you"
    many landlords have kow-towed to the Draconian Egotistical Assholes.
    some dispenseries own their own building, and are not closing.
    some landlords are bucking, and saying " bring it on", and not kicking out the dispenseries

    so far, the feds are only blowing hot air, and allegedly do not have the manpower to back up their mouth. however , if enough dispenseries close, their job will become easier.

    swim hates the dispenseries and their greed, but the feds have no business messing with states rights(wasnt a war fought over this issue in this country?). again, the feds were chillin until the city of oakland, in their greed, wrote the feds a letter saying "we want to produce MMJ at a rate of 54 lb a day in 4 super-grow facilities" and the feds said "all bets are off"
  2. sassyspy
    Better article than my similar one, but tbh, I think they are Tacoma area, not Seattle area, lol.
  3. dyingtomorrow
    I love the statements you read by all these assholes from the dispensaries when they get busted: "they should be arresting *other* people for selling pot 'illegally' or doing other drugs! not wasting tax money enforcing the laws against ME!"

    You seriously read these statements in like every MMJ article. These pieces of shit who get to have their pseudo-legal fix now, arguing moral outrage and trying to stir shit up against "illegal" marijuana and other drug users, to get the heat off of them.

    My favorite part in this article is the sequence of selfish whining assholes complaining about crack houses, then uber-whining that they are going to HAVE to buy their drug on the street now - sounding like a fucking baby, where you know this jerkoff couldn't even comprehend how exactly alike he sounds to a cut off oxy "patient'-addict "having" to buy heroin on the street, and would tell you they should all be arrested - followed by the guy complaining that street marijuana should be targeted. Just hilarious.

    I just picture these socialistic hippy stereotypes so outraged and protesting the drug war. Then handed a "just you get to use legal marijuana card" and immediately hopping the fence to join the "tougher punishment for drug crime!" protestors. You see the same shit sometimes with opiate addicts who suddenly get a good prescription, which is rapidly self justified - for what they consider "more real than anybody else" reasons.

    These peons fundamentally demonstrate how there came to be a war on drugs to begin with. People generally think poorly of one another; that its okay just for ME to do whatever I want or that makes me feel good, but everyone else is too stupid and irresponsible and should be restricted. Then 100 years ago all the well to do and powerful people gave themselves "just you get to get high on whatever you want cards" and said fuck everyone else.
  4. Terrapinzflyer
    DEA raids: Search warrant targeted West Seattle dispensary too

    We’ve obtained a 37-page federal court document related to Tuesday’s DEA search at GAME Collective in White Center (one of a dozen-plus medical-marijuana establishments searched around Puget Sound) – and they reveal that federal authorities obtained search warrants for GAME Collective locations in West Seattle and North Seattle as well, along with the West Seattle home and car of its owner, and vehicles belonging to others associated with GAME.

    The documents reiterate what statements from federal authorities said last night (as included in our Tuesday story), saying that they are not targeting “medical marijuana providers that comply with the letter and the spirit of existing state law,” though marijuana of any type is illegal under federal law. But they allege that five people associated with GAME Collective are suspected of federal crimes including conspiracy to distribute marijuana, distribution of marijuana , and unlawful possession with intent to distribute marijuana. The documents allege that constitutes a “drug-trafficking organization.”

    The court documents also show a tie-in between the GAME investigation and the recent “Operation Center of Attention” raids, as well as detailing a series of undercover buys, and even mentioning a mysterious anonymous letter. The investigation of GAME Collective began in late July, at which time, an investigator writes:

    Utilizing undercover officers and surveillance techniques, controlled purchases of marijuana were performed from individuals at the subject dispensary locations distributing controlled substances in the Western District of Washington. During these operations, the undercover officer was provided Officially Authorized Funds for the purchase of the marijuana. An electronic audio transmitter/recorder was placed with the undercover officer to monitor and record conversations between the undercover officer and suspects. The undercover officer would enter the establishment and provide an undercover identification as a qualified medical marijuana patient. After verifying the undercover officer’s eligibility as a medical-marijuana patient, the undercover was guided to an inner room and shown numerous varieties of dried marijuana, hashish, and other products such as candy and food items containing … THC — the psychoactive substance within marijuana. The undercover officer would purchase different varieties of dried marijuana and THC laden products which were then processed into evidence and sent to the DEA laboratory for testing and analysis for the presence of marijuana/THC.

    The investigator goes on to mention (though not by name) Operation Center of Attention, the sweeping three-month investigation of White Center-area gang activity that recently resulted in raids and arrests. The documents say that ATF agents “had conducted controlled purchases of marijuana” from the White Center GAME Lounge during that investigation.

    Also from the documents: GAME Collective’s business license is registered to its owner’s southwest West Seattle home, and “Greenpiece Alternative Medicine and Education (GAME) Center … is registered as a nonprofit organization.” And it is noted that the owner’s 2007 Mercedes was purchased with $34,000 in cash last April. (We are not identifying any of the suspects, as we do not thus far have any indication they have been indicted or otherwise charged.)

    Among the background on GAME that is detailed in the documents is the armed robbery we covered at the West Seattle location last March.

    It lists items recovered during the aftermath, including “cannabis candies and … cookies” as well as marijuana and hashish.

    A surveillance operation at the West Seattle GAME Collective location on July 28 is detailed. The investigator writes of seeing five vehicles arrive within 12 minutes, and seeing 13 people go in: “Approximately 10 to 20 minutes later, these individuals would exit The GAME Collective carrying paper bags on their way out that they did not have with them when they entered the establishment.” Most were described as in their 20s or 30s, and the investigator adds, “I did not observe anyone that required a wheelchair, crutches, or a walker to enter the GAME Collective. I know from personal experience, as well as observations of patients suffering from illnesses – such as certain kinds of cancer, AIDS, or Multiple Sclerosis – the physical toll such illnesses take on a person’s body as well as the side effects of their treatment. I know through experience and observations that hair loss, weight loss, lack of energy, difficulty in the ability to walk or to move limbs, or labored breathing are common and observable signs of such illnesses. During this surveillance, I did not observe anyone who entered or exited the GAME Collective exhibiting these signs.”

    Next, the investigator writes of a similar surveillance operation at the North Seattle GAME Collective on August 9th.

    And then, there are details about an anonymous letter received in mid-August alleging that GAME Collective was being used “as a collection point for Oregon and California grown marijuana and (shipped to a gang) in Chicago.” This letter claimed the enterprise was intending “to establish a large warehouse-sized indoor marijuana grow operation in Mount Vernon, Washington.”

    The documents move on to late August, at which time the investigators’ “confidential informant” went into GAME Collective in White Center with $100 provided by agents, as well as audio/video recording equipment. Inside the documents say the informant was met by a man, asked for their medical-marijuana card and ID, shown “41 different varieties of marijuana” and “a lounge area where customers are encouraged to consume marijuana.” The informant allegedly was told “there is an afterhours party every Friday and Saturday … from 2 am to 6 am.” The informant paid $100 for 11 grams of marijuana and left.

    The next day, the same informant was sent in for the same purpose. The documents note they “asked for a beer, but was told no beer was there.”

    (Note: This has been a topic of community discussion at White Center meetings including the WC Community Safety Coalition – whether alcohol was being served at the GAME lounge.)

    The day after that, the informant was sent in on a mission to “purchase marijuana and alcohol if possible,” the documents say. A purchase of marijuana and “five Swisher Sweet cigars” ensued, and then the informant “observed one of the customers of the GAME Collective was consuming a beer and asked for one” but was told “the beer was brought there by the customer and not provided by the GAME Collective.” The informant was told the after-hours party “costs $5 to enter and it’s BYOB – bring your own bottle.”

    Also in late August, an ATF Field Officer working undercover went in, also wired, bought 10 grams of “marijuana identified as ‘Train Wreck’” for $120, and “observed at least 10 people at the bar … and most of them were consuming marijuana on the premises. Several of the patrons were observed … with small piles of marijuana on the bar in front of the customers and the marijuana was being shared between various patrons. (The agent) was offered marijuana on various occasions while he walked through the establishments observing the activities within the GAME Collective.”

    When he went back the next day, the documents say, he was not asked for identification or his medical-marijuana card.

    The narrative moves on to mid-September, when the undercover officer and informant went in to try to barter pipes and smoking devices for marijuana. The document says they were successful – that a GAME staffer “agreed to pay $100 for the pipes,” after being told by the agent “that he intended to sell the marijuana after receiving it for the pipes.” The $100 was received, and given back “for 10 grams of marijuana. (The staffer) offered (the agent) a lit marijuana cigarette … to sample. (The agent) simulated smoking the marijuana and then returned the marijuana cigarette …”

    Then in late September, the documents say, another undercover agent was sent into the West Seattle GAME Collective with $2,000 for “a controlled purchase of three ounces of dried marijuana, ten grams of hashish, and two lollipops allegedly containing THC.” That same agent went to the North Seattle branch the same week with $750 and bought marijuana, hashish, and “two vials allegedly containing hash oil.”

    Next date in the documents is November 3rd. The investigator who wrote the report says he walked by the White Center GAME Collective lounge and “noticed the odor of burning marijuana …”

    From there, boilerplate follows, with generic language regarding why a search warrant would be sought, looking for evidence and possibly records of alleged illegal activity. What the searches yielded, would be the subject of future documents; there are no indications anyone was arrested in connection with this part of the DEA operation.


    November 16, 2011

    http://westseattleblog.com/2011/11/dea-raids-search-warrant-targeted-west-seattle-dispensary-too
  5. pathos
    I agree that there are a large number of people that abuse MMJ and use the new laws to dispense MMJ improperly. Lumping all these people into categories you mentioned is pretty obtuse. Going after the individuals that abuse the laws rather than completely shutting down the only legal source (dispensary) of a MMJ patient's prescribed medication seems to make more sense. Make the dispensaries adhere to requirements that govern pharmacies and liquor stores. That may not solve the problem but it would be a step in the right direction.

    I notice you are a drinker and smoker. How would you feel if these vices of yours were made illegal or remained legal but you could no longer purchase them legally anywhere? Liquor stores are dispensaries for a substance that is the cause of 70-80 thousand deaths every year in this country. How would people react if their liquor store was shut down? Would you attach the words I posted in Bold
    To them?

    Oh, when alcohol was illegal, it was still legally prescribed for ailments much like those that use MMJ suffer. When people whined and complained about the 18h amendment and its link to illegal activity it was finally repealed. Watch Ken Burns documentary "Prohibition".

    I just had a loved one die a protracted death from cancer and MMJ was the only thing that got her through chemo. She tried everything else and endured a great deal of discomfort because she was afraid of the stigma that marijuana users have. The stigma that seems blatantly clear in your post.


    If you choose to respond to this, please leave the vulgarity's and presumptions behind.
  6. dyingtomorrow
    I suppose if vulgarity is defined as speaking plainly, and not being "obtuse" with negative comments, then I have to admit I've always had trouble with that.

    I can't post much of a response because the number of presumptions about my beliefs make it almost nonsensical to me, but here's a thread that will help you understand the context of the post you responded to:

    Libertarian vs. Liberal perpectives on drug legalization.
    http://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=30638
  7. Terrapinzflyer
    @ DyingTomorrow - while I understand your points, and sympathize with them to a degree, I must say you come off sounding like "them". Despite the view (and to some degree the reality) that medical marijuana is being used by some as a back door to legalization, abused by those "illicit drug users", the fact remains a very large number are legitimate patients. And these raids DO hurt legitimate patients who are not using these substances for pleasure. Not everyone prescribed an opiate would go buy heroin if it became unavailable, and not everyone using marijuana as medicine would be willing or able to go buy it illicitly. Sadly- quite a few would likely go to "legitimate" pharmaceuticals with far more side effects.

    I have a number of friends that are MD's specializing in cancer or chronic diseases, and I am amazed by how frequently they prescribe cannabis over traditional medicines, especially opiates.


    Personally I am appalled by the all to common (and all to commonly viewed as valid) observation of the cop in the search warrant:
    I personally know quite a few medical marijuana patients with cancer, lyme disease, chrons disease, MS, that on a "good day" you would never know just how sick they are. (and on a bad day it's there caregiver going to the dispensary- which of the course the cop ignores as a possibility)

    Are there abuses of the system- yes. So bloody well deal with them. With any other medicine that is abused- do the feds go after the manufacturer or pharmacy? Or do they go after the pill-mill script docs and illegal sellers?
  8. dyingtomorrow
    My issue is that there are A LOT of "legitimate patients" who have to use illegal means to get the drugs they legitimately need. What I keep reading in these stories is a particular group of such people, a large number of whom seem to be saying:

    "Hey, there's some other legitimate patients over there getting their drugs contrary to Federal and/or State law - GO GET THEM INSTEAD! We'll even help!"

    Not

    "Hey, this system is bullshit for everyone."

    That makes them assholes in my book. They had the money to sniff out some doctor holding a minority medical view to write them a smoking-up pass, so now they are "morally justified" or something, and anyone who can't afford to do the same (re: pot or any drug) and has to self medicate from illegal sources isn't "legitimate," and is lumped in with the people who belong in jail? Fuck them. Considering their drug and its history they should be especially empathetic to the situation of people out there needing to self medicate from illicit sources. The ones out there showing up in these articles and giving statements to the media trying to rile up law enforcement and support it against everyone else they can, just to get the heat off themselves, are selfish pieces of shit.
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