Task Force Raids LA Marijuana Dispensaries, Shoots Dog

There has probably never been a more confusing legal environment regarding marijuana than there is right now in California, and last Wednesday’s multi-agency raids on two Los Angeles medical marijuana dispensaries serve as perfect illustrations.

In February, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said that the DEA would no longer raid marijuana dispensaries that are operating in accordance with state law. Holder later said “our focus will be on people, organizations, that are growing, cultivating substantial amounts of marijuana and doing so in a way that’s inconsistent with Federal law and State law.”

On August 12, a task force that included the FBI, LAPD, LASD, and DEA raided the Organica and Overland Gardens collectives at gunpoint, in riot gear, and with air support. At Organica, the officers shot a dog belonging to owner Jeff Joseph, detained patients and employees, used sledgehammers to knock away interior sheetrock to search for evidence, and confiscated cash and property. Joseph was taken into custody and charged with felony marijuana possession under California’s Health and Safety Code. Although LAPD sought the search warrant last week — and it’s still unclear exactly why Organica and Overland were targeted — witnesses say DEA appeared to be in command.

California law allows individuals to possess or grow marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation, but laws regarding distribution and sale are less clear and enforcement is typically left to local authorities.

Mr. Joseph’s attorney, William Kroger, described a legal environment that is evolving rapidly and often varies wildly from one locale to another. Kroger provided Huffington Post with an exclusive copy of the search warrant served on Joseph and Organica.

Former Seattle police chief Norm Stamper told me that the intended effects of Mr. Holder’s statements about federal involvement “can easily be blunted if the state law loophole is exploited by law enforcement” and that the sometimes cozy relationship between area federal and local officials can mean that agencies are “only too happy to enlist” each other when one jurisdiction wants to initiate a case but cannot themselves do so.

DEA administrator Michelle Leonhart, appointed by President Bush after serving in various California DEA field posts, has overseen the last decade of DEA paramilitary-style engagement with California marijuana dispensaries. While it seems unlikely she sought approval from the AG’s office for the latest raids, she is undoubtedly aware of the new administration’s change in direction (however nuanced it may be.)

No federal charges have been filed, raising the question of what standard the DEA is applying when deciding whether to “assist” local authorities in enforcing state marijuana law.

The legality of the two raided collectives is for the courts to decide. As perplexing as the current legal environment is for medical marijuana patients, one thing is quite clear: despite administration statements, little has changed with regard to federal enforcement of marijuana laws, even in states where it has been decriminalized.

– Article from The Huffington Post.

Comments

10 Comments

  1. Interested Observer on

    Prohibitionists are Nazis. The DEA is the Gestapo, whose job it is to arrest and persecute a minority for their beliefs. Prisons for drug offenders are concentration camps and forcible rehab is “re-education”. Now, Benton from Georgia is advocating the “final solution” of executing drug dealers – and don’t believe for a second he’s the only one in favor of it. Another Holocaust is just around the corner. Just remember: just because it’s legal, it doesn’t mean it’s right; and just because it’s illegal, it doesn’t mean it’s wrong. See drug laws for what they are – a violation of your human rights.

    Power grows from the barrel of a gun; pot grows from the Earth.

  2. Anonymous on

    eg. NORML do your best at thisone please.

  3. Anonymous on

    the patients in california need to issue a class action lawsuit against these agencies. put the pressure on them through their system. a cop or dea agent cannot deprive patients of their prescribed medicine. everyone wants to fight but don’t know how to. take them to court. take them to the supreme court. the government won’t listen to or believe its own citizens are outraged. take them to court. it is the only way.

  4. gstlab3 on

    THE GOOD PEOPLE OF LOS ANGELES OUGHT TO DEMAND TO SEE THE SEARCH WARRANTS/ VIA DISCLOSURE AND THE REASONS BEHIND THE RAIDS., IF NO GOOD CAUSE CAN BE FOUND IN EITHER THE ISSUING OF THE WARRANTS AND TO THE MANNOR IN WICH IMPLIMENTING THEM WAS CARRIED OUT., IF IT ALL COMES TO COURT EVERYONE SHOULD START AN EDUCATION CAMPAIGN CONCERNING JURY NULLIFICATION AND WE AS A PEOPLE WILL FIGHT THE UNJUST TREATMENT OF THESE CARE GIVERS AND THEIR PATIENTS!!!!! NULLIFY THE LAWS AND THE LAWMAKERS WILL BY NULLIFICATION BY JURY TRIAL!!!!!! WE ALL MUST DEMAND A JURY TRIAL TO GET OUR RIGHTS BACK!!!! DO IT!! DO IT NOWWWW!!!!!!!!!!! GET TO THE JURY!!!!!!! NULLIFY!!!!

  5. Anonymous on

    cops are shit shooting peoples pets .the life of a cop is worth less than a dog .yet folks arent killing them dont make any sense

  6. Anonymous on

    live is sacred !

    It was UNLAWFULL to justify their actions and sacrifice the dog.

    Please do understand the difference between LEGAL & LAWFULL.

    LAWFULLY we can posses and produce almost unlimited amounts of cannabis, though LEGALLY we can’t.

    Cannabis will only become LEGAL then, when enough people are able to comprehend the meaning of LAWFULL.

    ( in essence “LAWFULL” is just a healthy set of rules given the power of eternal truth and value, ment to enable us to live in peace with each other)

  7. Anonymous on

    A barking dog, regardless of the threat level, is usually seen at a threat and police will simply shoot the animal rather than deal with it. In a raid in Maryland (at the wrong house) the owner’s dog was simply shot because it was there. This entire situation is hateful.

  8. Anonymous on

    Man, if they shot my dog in a fucking drug raid, I’d be livid. I’m speechless and horrified by the actions of these “law enforcement” groups. They’re a bunch of useless turds when it comes to this kind of thing. They have NO BUSINESS fucking up people’s lives because of marijuana in the first place and events like this just go to show how much they get off on their power trip. Fucking jerks.

    This shit needs to change, and soon. Fucking legalize it already.

  9. Pfarthing6 on

    As long as things are so murky and some dispenseries look like good targets, this is going to happen. The cops are sending a message, “Keep it low profile or ELSE.” All one has to do is look through the papers. The people who normally get busted like this are the ones in the limelight for whatever reason.

    So, why not take their warning? If all the dispenseries were just outlets with only small amounts of cash and crop, small enough to sacrifice to Caesar, I bet there would be fewer busts as it wouldn’t be worth it.

    How can this be done? Well, spread the love. Instead of big grow ops, have micro-grows all over the place. A bit of a headache, but better than the alternative and it might put more people to work too.

    Think of how much man power it would be to bust a 100 micro-grows with a few plants each spread all across a city or county rather than bust a single grow op with 100 or more plants? And equally, depositing the money many times a day and getting micro stash shipments several times a day would mean that there wouldn’t be enough on site to be worth the exspense of the bust.

    We have to know the enemy, know his tactics, his passions. Deprive him of his passions and turn the tables on his strategy. As in chess, allow for sacrifices, but not foolish ones.