DEA agents accompanied by Riverside County sheriff's deputies raided a small Palm Desert medical marijuana growing collective Tuesday and sent homeowner Gary Silva to the hospital with a dislocated shoulder when they burst through his door in the early morning assault. The raid was only the latest DEA attack on medical marijuana patients and providers since the agency got a green light from the US Supreme Court last June when it ruled that federal law outlawing marijuana trumped any state laws making an exception for medicinal production, distribution, and use.
Agents confiscated 80 plants and an unspecified quantity of prepared marijuana from the home, as well as seizing patient records and equipment. The grow was operated as a legal patients' collective under California law. No arrests were made, but DEA agents told Silva he would be arrested if he grew again.
"Everything I was doing was within California law," said Silva after being released from the hospital where he was treated for his law enforcement-inflicted injuries. "I grew for myself and a few other patients, and donated the excess to a nearby dispensing collective. There was no need for our California sheriffs to call in federal agents to injure me and harass my family."
"This sounds like pure harassment by the DEA and by a local sheriff that isn't happy to uphold state law," said ASA field director Rebecca Saltzman. "It was just a matter of time before a patient would be injured from a federal raid, and if this hostility by the DEA continues, it's going to happen again."
In addition to injuring Silva, who suffers from degenerative disc disease, agents also held his wife and daughter at gunpoint, Silva said. He liked the encounter to being assaulted by robbers. "They did a home invasion," he said.
Medical marijuana supporters and activists planned protests at locations across the country Thursday, including Austin, Denver, Dallas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington, DC, Missoula, Montana, and Riverside, California. The medical marijuana defense group Americans for Safe Access also urged people to call the Riverside DEA offices to tell them to quit harassing patients.
Late Thursday afternoon, California NORML head Dale Gieringer reported that medical marijuana patient and Supreme Court plaintiff Angel Raich had been arrested at an Oakland protest against the Palm Desert raid. According to Gieringer, a security guard told Raich she was using a megaphone too close to the building and arrested her after she talked back to him through the megaphone as she walked away. She was released with a citation.