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DEA Raids Legal Weed Dispensaries in Washington Again

Last Wednesday, at least four medical marijuana dispensaries in Washington state—where even recreational use of pot is legal in small amounts—got quite a scare when the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)came calling. The clinics, all of which had been targeted back in 2011, were supposedly not abiding by state law, which is the often cited, albeit quizzical, justification for a federal raid.

In Washington, one dispensary owner initially worried he was being robbed. Other owners throughout the state feared this was the beginning of an official federal crackdown—the Department of Justice had decided to deal with states where recreational weed use is legal by sending in the DEA. But a source told Seattle’s King-5 that the raids took place because those specific marijuana outfits had the same problems they had in 2011, not because of any new federal policy.

In lieu an official federal policy toward states that have legalized medical marijuana, this ad hoc, willy-nilly method of policing has become the norm, and you might not be too off base if you assumed that the DOJ’s unspoken strategy was to kill the industry by a million paper cuts.

According to Americans for Safe Access, the Obama administration has spent $300 million on medical marijuana raids since 2009. Crackdowns have lead to serious jail time for dispensary owners in MichiganandMontana. No arrests were made this week in Washington, but several thousand dollars in marijuana was seized, along with cell phones, papers, and computers. The DEA also started the process of seizing a boat through asset forfeiture. Supposedly these dispensaries were laundering money and providing marijuana to nonpatients, which is possible. It should also have been up to the state to decide if state law was being broken.

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