Drug Law

DEA Raids Calif. Marijuana Collectives; Ignores New Federal Policy

| by Marijuana Policy Project

After word spread of DEA raids on medical marijuana collectives in San Diego and Mendocino County last week, many are left wondering if federal agents deliberately violated the Obama administration’s instructions to not interfere with state medical marijuana laws.

Under the Department of Justice policy announced in an October memo, federal agents are no longer supposed to target or prosecute medical marijuana patients or providers who operate in “clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state law.”

Yet, according to local accounts, the sites raided last week were legal under state law. From the Press Democrat:

Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman confirmed Friday that the [raided] property owner had the proper paperwork and the marijuana was legal in the eyes of the county.

“This was a federal operation and had nothing to do with local law enforcement,” he said. “The federal government made a decision to go ahead and eradicate it.”

Steve Elliott has more in Alternet:

A multi-agency federal task force descended on the property of Joy Greenfield, the first Mendo patient to pay the $1,050 application fee under the ordinance, which allows collectives to grow up to 99 plants provided they comply with certain regulations.

Greenfield had applied in the name of her collective, “Light The Way,” which opened in San Diego earlier this year. Her property had passed a preliminary inspection by the Mendo sheriff’s deputies shortly before the raid, and she had bought the sheriff’s “zip-ties” intended to designate her cannabis plants as legal.

In the days before the raid, Greenfield had seen a helicopter hovering over her property; she inquired with the sheriff, who told her the copter belonged to the DEA and wasn’t under his control.

The agents invaded her property with guns drawn, tore out the collective’s 99 plants and took Greenfield’s computer and cash.

Joy was not at home during the raid, but spoke on the phone to the DEA agent in charge. When she told [him] she was a legal grower under the sheriff’s program, the agent replied, “I don’t care what the sheriff says.”

The DEA has not yet released any statement explaining their actions, which all reports indicate violated their DOJ-issued guidelines.

With the number of state medical marijuana laws at 14 and growing, there is an urgent need for the federal government to ensure that its policy on state medical marijuana laws is made “clear and unambiguous” to its enforcers as well. The DOJ guidelines issued in October should have done just that, but apparently the DEA in California didn’t get the memo.