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Debate rages over DEA raid of Westside medical marijuana dispensaries

A DEA raid on three Westside medical marijuana dispensaries has generated outrage from supporters, some of whom had expressed hope that the federal government would halt such actions once Barack Obama took office.

On Tuesday, three different groups of DEA officers simultaneously served search warrants to the  dispensaries about noon, said Sarah Pullen, a DEA spokeswoman.

“I can’t get into details as to the probable cause behind the warrants except for the fact that they’re dealing with marijuana, which is illegal under federal law,” she said.

An employee of Beach Center Collective in Playa del Rey said DEA officers confiscated so much property that it would not be able to reopen.

“They took everything,” said the 32-year-old employee, who asked not to be named. “You name it, they took it -- right down to the television. The computer, patient files, medicine, cash in the register -- that’s it, we’re done. It’s just too bad. [Our patients] have epilepsy, cancer, MS, diabetes -- two of our patients have one leg. They’re gonna have to travel a lot farther and go to places that aren’t as safe for them.”

Representatives of Marina Caregivers of Marina del Rey and Alternative Caregivers Discount Dispensary in Venice also said their places of work shad been raided and suffered damage.

In response to the recent DEA raids, Americans for Safe Access, an organization that promotes safe and legal access to marijuana, is planning a  rally for Thursday at noon in front of the downtown Los Angeles federal building.

“When a dispensary is raided by the DEA they come in and confiscate all of the patients’ medicine,” said Don Duncan, co-founder of ASA. “In some cases that means the dispensary can’t reopen. It could also result in somebody being prosecuted in federal court and spending time in jail. The city of Los Angeles is trying to regulate these facilities and this kind of federal interference makes that regulation impossible.”

Cities around the state have been dealing with complaints about the proliferation of dispensaries, with some city councils voting to prohibit new ones.

--Corina Knoll

Comments () | Archives (42)

Excellent! Another stoner storefront shut down. Reading these rediculous comments about how these places are like the Mother Theresa Institute makes me laugh. Go visit one and meet some of these "medically desperate" people peddling their stash outside.

This DEA action in California has always been absurd: the U.S. government's "official" stance is clearly out of touch with the vast majority of citizens, who find medical marijuana acceptable; my guess is the official stance is also clearly out of touch with most of the OFFICIALS working in the government, who I'd bet have smoked and enjoyed it when they did.

So why do we allow them to continue the hypocrisy?

In addition, in this time of huge government debt, it's now not only absurd to be doing this, but it's an outrageous use of funds--funds we don't have.

DEA can do more productive work going after meth labs or people selling rock cocaine but we need clarification from the feds as to the legal distribution of medical marijuana to treat health issues. With health care costs in the stratosphere and no end in sight using organic medication is a cost effective alternative to those suffering from stress to terminal cancer.

Please! stop this waste of TAX money to go after Medical Marihuana. It's enough, the state of California voted on it. And we said yes loud and clear.
This is not causing any harm to anybody, in fact is provinding healing to a lot of people.

I'm no lawyer, but whenever initiatives are placed on the ballot for voters to decide on, you would think that they go through some kind of legal review. In this case Federal law will always trump state law when it comes to illicit drugs or narcotics. Local government will not be able to regulate these dispensaries because the legal issues have not been worked out.

If anything, cannabis needs to be re-legalized outright and alcohol should be outlawed. That is, if prohibition laws are to reflect what is truly dangerous.

While they're at it, they should close all the bars and liquor stores and make cigarettes illegal too. It's ironic that this is illegal while booze and smokes are not.

The DEA must be VERY well funded if they can reach this low on the priority list. It looks to me like government expenses will have to be trimmed or at least distributed to states more equitably. The states need more income just to fund mandated programs; the federal government has cause to share more with states. That money could come from fat programs like the DEA. For that matter, they should be sharing better with the Forest Service and the National Parks Service, both severely impacted by wildfire control costs. Maybe some of that Plan Colombia and other foreign aid could also help out. Why are we dishing out foreign aid at all after dumping trillion$ into the financial sector glory hole? We could use that money to help hospitals deal with unfunded care and help defray the cost of universal medical care. BTW, does everyone not see that universal preventative care should save a significant part of the costs of a universal health plan. Sorry for wandering afar, but that's where this topic leads.

Does the DEA have nothing else better to do? Why don't they raid all the crack houses in South Central LA or meth labs in the High Desert area instead of wasting time and money on these legal dispensaries? Those other places cause exponentially more violence and problem then a bunch of sick people or peaceful stoners with the munchies

as an A.I.D.S. patient who volunteered on prop 215 this angers me.
We as a country are in debt and how much did this farce cost the the taxpayer.
This morning I awoke with nasuea and was out of medi-mari. my px for marinol takes to long, last to long and is uncontrolable I use it when I KNOW i have nothing planned but an easy day so walked down to my dispensary got home had a puff and was able to eat my breakfast.
Legalize tax and our country's debt will drop when will the tobacco lobby change it's crop they are acting like the auto industry unwilling to change.

In a time when we our economy is in a shambles it would seem that anything that potentially generates revenue should be on the table, and taxing pot should definitely be considered as a means of increasing revenue for both the State and Federal govenment.

To dmer,

Opinion noted. Now go back to the bar, get drunk and drive home.

Good! Marijuana is not medicine unless you are TRULY sick. These stores are fronts for drug dealers who peddle this crap to children and teens, who then screw up their lives with it. I'm so sick of seeing teenagers I work with stoned or involved in drug culture at the detriment of their future because of "medical marijuana". This whole thing is a joke. Let medical doctors, as in real licensed MD's, prescribe marijuana to AIDS or cancer patients if they must, but require that only hospital pharmacies can dispense it, and regulate it just like any other schedule 1 narcotic. This legalized street-level drug dealing has to end. Thank you DEA for protecting our children and communities! Take it all!!!!

"Excellent Smithers" says dmer, and defines the comments as "rediculous"...

The mean-spirited and judgmental attitude is truly both "red-iculous" and ridiculous, but that often goes along with being red, loving Big Brother, despising state's rights unless you're defending Jim Crow or the rich get richer policies of Florida...

What a waste of taxpayer dollars...

Yeah, "Go...meet some of these "medically desperate" people," and not just the ones that conveniently fit your stereotype, Mr. Red Iculous...

There is a legal medicine called Marinol which delivers the same drug (THC) to patients with the same medical results. Smoking marijuana presents significant health risks which has been demonstrated in numerous clinical studies. Until federal laws regarding marijuana change we can expect to see many more raids of the not-so-legal " legal dispensaries". And that's probably a good thing.

Or maybe turn their talents towards reducing gang violence, which probably has many more ties to far more dangerous substances than marijuana.

Decriminalize cannabis. Grow a plant in your flower bed and end the most destructive crime wave in US history at the same time.


How do these "agents" take their work seriously?

The DEA isn't about to raid meth labs or crack houses. Those places are dangerous, and DEA agents run the risk of being injured. Much easier to raid medical marijuana dispensaries. This way they fulfill their quota and they run no risk. Of course it doesn't have any effect on real drug problems, but why should the DEA care about real drug problems?

Everyone kept saying Barack is for CHANGE - than he picked 4 people to join his cabinet who couldn't even pay their taxes properly

Now the Clinics in Cali are getting raided again by an agency that is so out of touch with reality

Heroin from Afghanistan and Crystal Meth are the drugs you guys should be going after.

Or Maybe they are more profitable drugs for the DEA to make money on, so they are OK to keep pshing on our streets

What a Joke --- CAlifornnia when Are we going to stand up and fight for our rights against this out of touch GOVERNMENT!!!!

Hey dmer, go check out the science:


You can bully the people all you want, but the truth is out -- and it isn't going back in!

Come on people. Cannabis was banned in 1937, don't you think it's time to come out from under that rock and reevaluate the issue? Obviously these places are doing some good for the financial funders of the DEA because every time I buy my meds from a government certified dispensary I see Uncle Sam's tax on my printed receipt. Let's just try something here, it's called thinking. So a person goes to a liquor and buys cigarettes and a bottle of whiskey. He or she smokes tar and cyanide infused cigarillos and that is ok with everyone right? Well how about the booze? He or she drinks alcohol which is a depressant with horrible side effects such as rage, emotional instability, dependence, and impairs ones physical and mental judgmental and we have a law that says, "well if you're driving and get pulled over and blow .08 you're in trouble but if you drink the whole bottle at home you're cool, just don't hit your wife or kids because we see that happening all the time" Dispensaries are the first step in the maturing of a generation. Those on this side of the fence don't loose hope. The baby boomers are dying off and slowly losing their grip on everything. The generation that just voted in a black president who admitted to smoking weed is at a far better place mentally than our "war on drugs"-minded parents. I can't imagine this being an issue for much longer.

Let me end with this... LET'S EDUCATE, EDUCATE, EDUCATE

How many people would be unemployed and how much taxes would be lost if these places would cease to exist?

Yes they do pay taxes and they do employ people and yes there are people that need it and others that take advantage of it.

Just like Oxycontin users or police who drink on weekends.

California its obvious you don't want to admit it but your dependent upon its revenue. To end it when the people have voted for it time and time again would be just another example of how out of touch the politicians really are.

Over 80 percent of the population has been polled to favor total legalization yet even now every 33 seconds someones arrested and sent to jail for a Cannabis offense.

I could go on for hours on what's wrong with this picture...But we must mention that the state is collecting $150.00 for each of the permits that tells us that your O.K. to proceed with your marijuana , not to mention we must see & pay a doctor for the script. that's between $100.00 and $200.00 ! How unfair can this be ? Bill Volz

These atrocities WILL cease. There will be reparation.

Remember Nuernberg?

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