Marijuana dispensary owners must always be wary of regulatory and compliance issues, as well as unlawful search and seizure. A search and seizure by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration can result in serious criminal charges and penalties. According to media reports, two legally-authorized medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles were raided, even though staff members vehemently insist they were in compliance with state drug laws. This case is another example of the patchwork state and federal laws related to medical marijuana. To make matters more confusing, any citizen can still technically be hit with federal criminal charges despite being in compliance with local and state laws.
After an initial investigation, the Department of Justice confirmed the raid was based on a search warrant executed on the two dispensaries. According to a representative from the DEA, the warrant was sealed and would not be made public. Reports indicated several DEA raids initiated in two separate locations in L.A.
Authorities raided properties, seizing money, marijuana and computers. The West Hollywood staff members said no arrests were made, adding there was significant confusion about why the raids took place. The dispensaries have been established in the community for over 10 years, and operators insist they are “100-percent” state-compliant, abiding by cultivation, sale and tax laws.
While two dispensaries were included in the raid, several others were not, adding more mystery to the federal warrant, search, and seizure of property.
With a lack of transparency coming from the DEA, many other dispensary owners are deeply concerned about their own operations.
Our Orange County marijuana attorneys are dedicated to raising awareness to protect the rights of our clients. In addition to providing sound counsel and guidance on local, state, and federal regulatory and compliance matters, we are also experienced in handling criminal defense. If you are under investigation or have been charged with a marijuana-related crime, do not move forward in your defense without an experienced marijuana law attorney.
California is one of 23 states that has legalized medical marijuana cultivation, distribution, possession and use. Despite state laws, marijuana remains illegal for any purpose under federal law. Even shops that are considered state-compliant are at risk of federal action and criminal charges. Unfortunately, even legitimate business owners could find themselves facing federal criminal drug charges.
In this case, staff members for at least one dispensary raid were handcuffed and detained for more than an hour, though they were later released. The DEA also handcuffed and detained two patients who happened to be in the shop during the raid.
The recent L.A. raids are a reminder that compliance issues are not always straightforward, and even well-meaning dispensary owners can find themselves under federal investigation. The L.A. raids reportedly began with an undercover agent attempting to purchase medical marijuana, and quickly spiraled into a chaotic scene. A DEA agent at the scene claimed the case was about how the business operated. The same dispensaries were raided in 2007 when they were in a non-compliant location.
The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.
More Blog Entries:
D.C. Decriminalizes Marijuana, Federal Land Raises Legal Complications, July 16, 2014 Los Angeles Marijuana Lawyer Blog
United States Marijuana Laws Influencing Other Countries, February 14, 2014, Los Angeles Marijuana Lawyer Blog