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Medical Marijuana: DEA Hits California Dispensary in First Raid of Obama Administration -- New President Promised End to Raids

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #569)
Politics & Advocacy

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) raided a medical marijuana dispensary in South Lake Tahoe, California, Thursday, marking the first dispensary raid during the brand new Obama administration. On the campaign trail, candidate Obama said repeatedly he would end such raids.

DEA and SFPD dispensary raid, May 2008 (courtesy Bay Area Indymedia)
Neither the DEA nor the Obama administration had commented on the raid by Thursday evening. With the Obama administration mere days in office, many high-ranking Bush officials are still on the job, including acting DEA administrator Michele Leonhart, who has been responsible for numerous federal raids in California. The Obama administration has yet to name a new DEA head or permanent drug czar (head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy), and attorney general nominee Eric Holder is still undergoing congressional vetting.

"Whether or not this unconscionable raid on a medical marijuana provider is the fault of federal officials from the previous administration, President Obama has an opportunity to change this harmful and outdated policy," said Caren Woodson, director of government affairs for Americans for Safe Access, the leading national medical marijuana advocacy organization. "We are hopeful that these are the last remnants of the Bush regime and that President Obama will quickly develop a more compassionate policy toward our most vulnerable citizens."

During the Bush years, the DEA raided more than a hundred California dispensaries, sometimes merely seizing their medicine and cash, sometimes prosecuting their operators and sending them to federal prison. But the DEA has also gone after a medical marijuana organization in Washington state that supplied starter plants for its members, used a federal grand jury in Oregon to obtain patient records, and even threatened New Mexico officials planning to implement that state's medical marijuana distribution program.

In Thursday's raid, DEA agents hit the Holistic Solutions dispensary in South Lake Tahoe, seizing cash and medical marijuana. They made no arrests.

"President Obama must rise to the occasion by quickly correcting this problem and by keeping the promise he made to the voters of this country," said Woodson, citing Obama's repeated campaign pledges.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Anonymous (not verified)

Regardless of the fact that Mr. Obama will probably not keep his words, it seems to me that these cops who rob and assault defenseless, unarmed ill people and their medication providers are cowards! They are no different than terrorists. As a matter of fact, they are terrorists! How can they be proud of themselves when they assault weak, unarmed and sick people as they brandish automatic weapons in their faces and bully them into submission and then steal their property? These cops/agents are disgusting and send a very bad message to our children!

Norman Lepoff, M.D.

Fri, 01/23/2009 - 12:30pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

I am with you in your struggle to legalize PLANTS. am a 57 year old refugee of the drug war. And I am tired of the senseless vicitmization of the people who benefit from this wonderful plant. This fascist oppression of the people must stop. 900.000 people raped by the police state, imprisoned for possessing a non toxic, pain relieving plant is a crime against humanity. But if they will not prosecute Bush, the War criminal, then they are equally culpable. Someday change may come, but apparently it won't involve Obama.

Sat, 01/24/2009 - 10:30am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Something tells me that Obama played everyone in the medical marijuana community. It is a sad day for us all but did anybody really expect this black man to be any different than the 43 white men before him? He told everyone what they wanted to hear now he is showing what he really planned on doing!

Sat, 01/24/2009 - 5:06pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

It used to be "cops and robbers." Now, you can't find the fine line of distinction between the two.

Sun, 01/25/2009 - 1:13pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

The real problem with the illegality of marijuana is that it undermines the rule of law. During the Vietnam debacle, I observed that marijuana possession charges were used to silence dissent. It didn't matter whether dissenters actually possessed any marijuana (although they sometimes did). It was always easy to plant marijuana on an unsuspecting loudmouthed Vietnam War dissenter, and then "find" it. Having "found" it, the whole weight of the apparatus of justice could be applied to these irritants of the military-industrial complex. The chilling effect on public speech was exactly what Johnson (yes, Lyndon Johnson, the great civil rights reformer!) and, later, Nixon wanted.

Things have been no different since Vietnam; if anything, they have been worse during the Bush/Clinton/Bush years. The purpose of law in the U.S. should be to maximize personal freedom, consistent with maximizing the personal freedom of all others. But the de-facto purpose of drugs laws is oppression. If you have money, you can use drugs and get away with it. If you don't, you always have to cop a plea, and surrender your freedom. The numbers (the growth in the jail population of nonviolent "offenders", and the growth in marijuana use and in its availability) tell the story.

Since when is it "conservative" to oppress? Since when is it "liberal" to oppress? But most conservatives and liberals (with notable exceptions including the late William F. Buckley and George Soros) apparently do not deeply grasp the purpose of law in a freedom-seeking society. We are ruled by a duopoly that just doesn't get it. With the best will in the world, Obama still has to deal with this monumentally inconvenient fact. (If you don't believe me, just listen, sometime, to what John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi say about the issues before the government, and to their opinions about what Congress should do about them. Yikes!)

If Obama deeply understands that the purpose of law is to maximize freedom -- and there is plenty of evidence that he does understand this very well indeed -- there is reason to hope for significant reform. I'm giving him a year or two to get around to the marijuana issue, though. His plate is very, very full right now, and reform will not be easy, because only a minority in Congress, some Republican and some Democratic, understands that the purpose of law is to liberate, not to oppress.

Personally, I find the absence of marijuana from Obama's public agenda a strong indicator that this issue is on his actual agenda. My fondest hope is that he will enable the powerful self-remodeling features of our republic to do their work, and I think maybe he actually will. If, after a few days in office, Obama hasn't already reformed everything that needs reforming, we should not be discouraged.

We should pitch in and help get things fixed. The time for complaining is over. The time for action is now. "Action" means using the available legal tools to promote needed changes. Free speech is always in order. Write to the media. Blog. Demonstrate (nonviolently!). Leaflet. Educate. Refuse to be intimidated. Refuse to be discouraged. Vote. Educate yourself. Nonviolent civil disobedience is certainly indicated, too; we're all living under a well-established pattern of oppression of a minority whose members pose no special threats to society. Give money to organizations that are working for reform, such as the Drug War Chronicle. The ACLU, too, is working hard this area, and the HRC is working in what I regard as a related area. All three are worthy targets of your improve-liberty-in-America dollars.

Steve Newcomb

Sun, 01/25/2009 - 1:38pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Where is the Rosa Parks of the marijuana movement? Lets plan atleast one day ayear to smoke and get busted in front of cop shops and court houses across the fruited plains...Take all cases to jury trial and ask for nothing but a speedy trial and see the media come running for your story and see yourself on tv....Stop the dreaming the start demanding that you won't sit at the back of the bus any longer.....Stand up and be counted and get off your ass and stop being an arm chair revolutionary with a loud mouth who can only say "hurray for our side".....For the health of it be somone with more than an opinion with no action but a mouth full of poor me stories....I've done 2 1/2 years for the movement in Federal prison and I'm so sick and tired of you all talking about the injustice without putting your own fanny on the line for it>>>>CB Bateman, Redding,Ca.>>>[email protected]

Tue, 01/27/2009 - 12:02pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

This is a good idea that is being discussed elsewhere. Please checkout what Andrew Carroll accomplished at these sites and join the discussion to plan something effective:

Wed, 01/28/2009 - 8:10pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Join the Revolution and lets get our Individual liberties back! We must fight for our rights and work from the ground up! Take out the big government which is stifling us as a people and as individuals.

Thu, 01/29/2009 - 5:04pm Permalink

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