Aggressive raids belie new federal policy & undermine local efforts to regulate
SAN DIEGO --- Federal agents raided at least four San Diego-area medical marijuana dispensaries Friday in the early morning hours. Sources say that Green Kross, Unified Collective, SDOC and Kush Lounge were all served federal search warrants and were subjected to aggressive SWAT-style raids which resulted in the arrest of as many as 8 people and the seizure of money, medical marijuana and patient records.
These raids come as the City of San Diego is deliberating an ordinance to regulate the local distribution of medical marijuana.
"The patient community is outraged by these actions and demands answers," said Eugene Davidovich of the local San Diego chapter of Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the country's leading medical marijuana advocacy group. "Why is the federal government attempting to undermine our local efforts to regulate?" A recent San Diego Gran Jury encouraged local governments to follow through on implementing state law by regulating medical marijuana distribution facilities that provide needed medicine to patients throughout the county. Both the City and County of San Diego are on the verge of approving regulatory ordinances.
Several federal raids have occurred in San Diego over the past few years, typically with the cooperation of local law enforcement and District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis. The latest raids happened in September 2009 under the multi-agency effort called "Operation Endless Summer."
Despite the confidence of Dumanis in prosecuting state cases against local dispensary operators, one of them being Davidovich, they have only resulted in jury acquittals. "Despite a failure to win convictions in state court, Dumanis continues to aggressively enforce and prosecute groundless medical marijuana cases," continued Davidovich.
In October 2009, one month after raids were conducted on more than a dozen medical marijuana dispensaries in San Diego, the Justice Department issued a new policy aimed at deemphasizing federal enforcement in medical marijuana states. Nonetheless, the Justice Department has continued to take action in California and other medical marijuana states, with San Diego dispensaries being the latest targets.
In addition, the first federal trial of a medical marijuana provider under the Obama Administration is due to take place in the next few weeks. San Diego dispensary operator James Stacy was raided in the same September 2009 raid, but is being federally prosecuted. He is currently trying to mount an entrapment and medical use defense, something routinely denied federal medical marijuana defendants due to court rules that favor the prosecution.
"These raids underscore the importance of developing a comprehensive federal policy on medical marijuana, which will also allow states to care for the health and welfare of their people without unnecessary federal interference," said ASA Government Affairs Director Caren Woodson. "It is not the purview of the federal government to enforce local or state laws."