A federal raid of a model California medical marijuana dispensary and trade school has sparked outrage across the state, with activists firing off that the federal crackdown is not only unjust, but is going to cause the local economy to suffer.
Our California medical marijuana attorneys are appalled at the ongoing barrage against law-abiding dispensaries, peacefully conducting business, generating tax dollars and assisting sick patients in their local municipalities.
In this case, the dispensary owner himself - Richard Lee - is wheelchair bound following a severe spinal injury during a work injury and uses medical marijuana for the intense pain. For years, he has served as an advocate for the legalization of marijuana and has become a well-known fixture in his Oakland neighborhood. He was a veritable force behind the 2010 Proposition 19, which would have legalized recreational marijuana.
According to the Los Angeles Times, federal agents served a search warrant not only on Lee's former Oakland marijuana dispensary and nursery, but also on his home and marijuana trade school, which had served as a teaching tool for caregivers and patients who wanted to organically grow their own medical marijuana.
As some activists were quoted as saying, if the federal government had hoped this would be a quiet operation, they hoped wrong. As revered as Lee is, the agents essentially kicked the hornet's nest. Patients struggling with chronic pain have said Lee has helped to wean them off powerfully addictive prescription pills and onto the less habit-forming medical marijuana.
In addition to agents with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, the raid also involved officials with the U.S. Marshal's Service and the Internal Revenue Service. Lee has been taken into custody and detained for questioning.
The move by agents is especially puzzling because the Oaksterdam dispensary had essentially served as a model within the medical marijuana community, working with law enforcement and city officials to ensure operations were done legally and to the benefit of patients and taxpayers. In fact, Oakland City Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan openly questioned the reasoning behind the raid. She made the point that the city, which has undergone massive budget cuts, has had to cut officers at a time when violent crimes appear to be proliferating. Just this week, a shooting at Oikos University resulted in at least 7 deaths, she said, illustrating that there is serious crime in the city that requires law enforcement focus. Continuing the assault on California's medical marijuana dispensaries is a waste of time. She said if there is a surplus of federal law enforcement muscle, it would make more sense to expend it attacking the issues of illegal gun dealers and violent crime.
She added that Oakland is among those municipalities with the toughest restrictions on the medical marijuana community, and there had been no issues arising from their legal operation.
"It's really a success story in terms of how regulation can work," she said.
Certainly, there are dispensaries - although they are very few - that have been known to regulate without approval or outside the law. So why not go after those operations?
At the end of the day, targeting lawful marijuana dispensaries is going to push the demand for marijuana back onto the black market, where no one benefits.
The CANNABIS LAW GROUP offers experienced and aggressive representation to the medical marijuana industry in Los Angeles, throughout Orange County and elsewhere throughout Southern California. Call 714-937-2050 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.