Medical Patients Protest Raids on Washington State Marijuana Dispensaries

Protesters gather outside the Federal Building in Seattle to voice their opposition to widespread DEA raids in Washington State. (Photos by Stephanie Bishop)Protesters gather outside the Federal Building in Seattle to voice their opposition to widespread DEA raids in Washington State. (Photos by Stephanie Bishop)CANNABIS CULTURE – Protesters gathered yesterday in front of the Seattle Federal Building, braving cold and windy weather to voice their displeasure with recent DEA raids on MMJ access points in King, Pierce, and Thurston Counties.

A crowd that reached over 40 at one point held signs and umbrellas, showing the community that this affront to sick and dying medical marijuana users isn’t going to happen in silence.

The medical cannabis community has been thrown into a state of confusion with the recent round of arrests and shop raids, and patients aren’t sure where to safely access their medicine of choice.

Travel writer and legalization advocate Rick Steves.Travel writer and legalization advocate Rick Steves.Some shops in Seattle, Tacoma, and elsewhere are still open. There are few details about the specific arrests, but speculation other dispensaries may be targeted for providing more medicine than allowed by limits or possibly used cannabis from out of state to supply demand and keep prices low.

There were reports yesterday afternoon of people being released from jail with no charges or being bailed out, but at this point, it is not clear what the total arrested numbers might be.

Several Tacoma area shop-owners told me police and DEA agents used a broad array of law enforcement tactics. Some shops had their files and electronics ransacked or seized, some had cash or dry cannabis and other medical preparations taken. Some employees I spoke with had been given the option of get arrested or get the hell out of the parking lots on arriving at work.

These raids follow on the heels of a show of force a couple weeks back in outlying areas of Pierce and other counties, with Sheriff and DEA officers taking a tour of shops in what now appears to be a civil forfeiture fishing expedition, the likes of which I have never seen on this scale in Washington.

Many newer pot shops stayed closed yesterday in Tacoma, along with many across Seattle and the region. A lot of the shops are still answering calls for their members but may not have answers yet. They are at least trying to provide patient networking and are sharing any new news that comes in.

Reports today say some shops are open. North End Club 420 was not raided as reported and they are helping patients from other clubs today. Tacoma Cross is directing patients there since the raids. If you are a patient looking for information, please call your local access point first. Many shops are fielding calls and helping patients find answers in the confusion.

With Tacoma recently passing Initiative 1 – a citizen initiative calling for lowest priority enforcement for cannabis – with over 65% approval, cannabis activists here were hoping for real changes in police behaviour. That has yet to be seen.

Please contact the Cannabis Defense Coalition or other Seattle area networks if you have info on raids or arrests.

See how the mainstream media is covering the issue in this video from Q13 FOX News: