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Medical Marijuana: More Than a Dozen Dispensaries Hit, 31 Arrested in Coordinated San Diego Police Raids

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #600)

San Diego medical marijuana demo
One day after the San Diego City Council voted 6-1 to create a medical marijuana task force to help draft local laws governing dispensaries, local law enforcement agencies backed by the DEA Wednesday raided more than a dozen dispensaries in the city and its surroundings. For a complete list of the dispensaries raided, go here.

The raids were the result of an investigation led by San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, a long-time ardent foe of medical marijuana. At a Thursday news conference, Dumanis announced that 31 people had been arrested, $70,000 in cash seized, and 14 dispensaries shuttered.

Taking a page from the DEA's playbook, Dumanis attempted to portray the dispensaries as drug dealing operations, not medical providers. The raids have "nothing to do with legitimate medical marijuana patients or their caregivers," she said. Instead they were aimed at "so-called medical marijuana businesses that appear to be run by drug dealers."

Under California medical marijuana law, dispensaries are legal if they are organized as collectives and operate as nonprofit entities. San Diego has licensed nine dispensaries, but had an estimated 60 dispensaries -- at least until Wednesday's raids.

San Diego patient activist Donna Lambert
It's not the first time Dumanis has gone after dispensaries. A series of raids in 2007 shut down a dozen dispensaries and led to prosecutions that are still underway.

Medical marijuana supporters were livid at both Dumanis and the Obama administration. "Not only does the federal government have no place helping to enforce state and local medical marijuana laws," said Americans for Safe Access California director Donald Duncan. "Local officials must regulate medical marijuana and enforce those laws with civil actions, not with the barrel of a gun. It is incumbent on District Attorney Dumanis to help pass local regulations in San Diego not to aggressively undermine safe access to medical marijuana," he said.

"We're extremely disappointed that the feds participated in this attack on patients. The priority of the White House should be protecting patients, not helping local officials enforce oppressive restrictions," said Margaret Dooley-Sammuli, deputy state director for the Drug Policy Alliance. "Any concerns that the District Attorney may have will not be resolved through SWAT-style tactics like pulling people from their wheelchairs, as we saw yesterday. The federal government has no business enforcing state and local medical marijuana laws. It's our local governments' job to regulate medical marijuana and enforce those rules -- not with armed raids, but with civil actions," said Dooley-Sammuli. "The Obama administration has allowed Ms. Dumanis to use federal resources to further obstruct implementation of Prop 215 as she prepares to run for reelection in 2010. The people of San Diego deserve better."

Look for a feature article on San Diego's continuing recalcitrance regarding medical marijuana next week.

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.


San Diego Resident (not verified)

I live in San Diego and I vote. I can guarantee you I won't be voting for Dumanis.

Clearly, Obama's promise to keep the Feds out of California dispensaries is meaningless rhetoric.

I am so upset and disappointed, I don't know what to say. It is not a proud day to be an American.

Fri, 09/11/2009 - 1:39pm Permalink
Matthew Meyer (not verified)

The article seems to leave important questions unaddressed. It says, "San Diego has licensed nine dispensaries, but had an estimated 60 dispensaries." Well, why the discrepancy? Are the unlicensed dispensaries operating according to state law? Were any of the dispensaries that were raided among the nine licensed ones?

Many of us would like to see marijuana penalties go away, but even in California there are still rules to be followed in producing, distributing, and consuming medical cannabis. As a reader, I am interested to know what role those state rules are playing here. Are San Diego authorities really going after people playing by the rules or not? It is impossible to tell from the article.

Fri, 09/11/2009 - 2:25pm Permalink
Moonrider (not verified)

In reply to by Matthew Meyer (not verified)

Most (all?) of those raided dispensaries, were operating under legal license until a day or two before the raids when those licenses were arbitrarily pulled (perhaps so they could be raided?).

I'm pro-choice on EVERYTHING!

Sat, 09/12/2009 - 4:51pm Permalink
maxwood (not verified)

Looking at this from the PR angle: it throws up more headlines about "show of force" against cannabis, and that stiffens various segments of the electorate who instinctively "side with the aggressor" , i.e. vote for anyone who is quick to show force, especially against some demonized labelgroup such as "potheads" or "stoners". Even Obama knows some of his own votes in the past election were from this Show-them-you-can-get-tough voter category. (Also why there had to be some external attack object such as Afghanistan.)

The crackdown raids are meant to make the advocates of anything antitobaccular look stupid and inept-- why, basically because they failed to manipulate the legal system to protect themselves against being raided, of course, what a bunch of dopers, etc. In the wake of such events supposedly neutral newscasters wink and smirk a bit and say stuff like "the pot" or "the drug".

Now from the economics angle: the cigarettobaco empire is teetering on the edge of total collapse, and sees cannabis as its chief nemesis, not just because someone would buy cannabis instead of tobacco but because cannabis is associated with safe-use reforms, the Downdosage Revolution which dooms the 700-mg.-per-lightup hot burning overdose cigarette format which is the basis of their profit margin-- to be replaced by one-toke herb and single-toke utensils and vaporizers. If cannabis were legalized, these devices would also be unambiguously legal and that is the end of the era of big money in tobacco sales.

The billion-dollar ads have trained the customers to buy and inhale the largest amount of "mild" (i.e. specially mildened through pre-toasting, drug-adulterants etc.) tobaccoes. (Mild so the customer can inhale the most possible nicotine before feeling any respiratory discomfort.) But even tobacco could be marketed in small but very intense servings for use in 25-mg. one-hitters and vaporizers. Cannabis already trains its users to miniaturize, a behavior which once adopted by the present-day ultrahabitual tobacco users could reduce product sales by over 90% even if no one quit smoking!

One "barrier" which currently still delays this happening is the horrendous black market price differential between cigarette tobacco (in a high tax state, $7 per pack, $14 for two packs which are one ounce net weight; by comparison hundreds of dollars for an ounce of cannabis. If cannabis were legalized, and the price fell to $14 an ounce, what would happen to the oligopoly?

Again these "drug raids" are the answer, because they make it prohibitively expensive to dispense marijuana, legally or not (to do it legally you pay a ton of money to lawyers, to do it illegally you invest in all kinds of obfuscation and disguise and protection technology). This shows up as the high black market price and also as a similar high price at dispensaries which is currently being complained about on the innanet.

Such upward manipulation of the cannabis price through right wing big government force should be seen for what it is, the last-ditch stand by Big 2Wackgo using its $ yearly tax payment to local and federal governments to buy precisely this kind of government behavior against cannabis. The Republican Party and "tough anti-pot" candidates such as Giuliani get the most tobacco industry campaign money, but even Democrats know continuing various popular but expensive government programs partly depends on tobacco tax revenues.

Good news: once you shift to microdosage it turns out a 25-mg. single toke (including 30 rebreathings in and out of a breatyhmoisturebonnet) costs about a thousandth of an ounce, i.e. a $300 ounce yields 30c tokes. In a $7/pack state a cigarette costs 35c! So we are winning, an important bar has been passed.

Fri, 09/11/2009 - 6:00pm Permalink
Stephen T. McClaran (not verified)

Although we all understand that federal injustice only represents an interdependant fallout of specific qualifiers that have been used to priorly determine the said value of specific commodities, we cannot assume that there are any implications that are otherwise set into precedent that are alike to this situation.
But for a known few that have preceeded it in the past pertaining to what was federally over-rulled and made priority by state officials to wait upon. These precedents were made not only as landmark issues but also are signifiers to qualify the pertinence that accoplishes social rights and the interdependant priveledge of democracy.
In persuasive recognition, I see no fall-out in this case but I know that there should be re-cursive effort to establish not only the priveledge of repubicanism in the community as well as further federal-statues and amendments, but another past precedent to refrence and allude to in order to defer, sameness as a qualifier, a necessarry one that will serve to end poor drug litigation: Legislation and preferable liberation.
The next bold moves will be to draw inter-state support in regards to erroneous claims to the individual priveledge as well as demonstation that will lead america past the mentaltity of prohibition and unburden the entrepeneurial spirit of the farming and community in America. We are all well aware of the possible fall-out (hedgemony) if measures cannot be understood and interpreted by and contextually, with proper future legilation, without discrimination and the disturbing fact of discontinuity, stigma and faithlessness.
The important terms will become sensible to not only users of marijuana/ganja, but should also grow well with anyone philosophically sympathetic to the growth and development of a country and stem off anger from the rooted infection and mould coming from the poor and otherwise underspecified legislation. Any mode and means to comprehension made vauge and disambiguoal of future passion will be neglected, so terms motivating the future "-Yours and Mine." will aid in the growth of passion.
We need motivation, hope and inspiration as modal instigators: Made for reform- This will fasion the spirit of our continued movement to constitute clarity of concurrent unsaid ambiguity until trust may be accomplished socially and within the spirit of a free and understanding governance. With chiefly aims for more hope which repraisal may not stem nor deter. Freedom is constructed of perserverance so this age is made of what more may be done as well as what more may be said. There is no qustioning integrity as investments for future value makes absolute of a movement which may not die. What is sincere will rest well and keep others well-rested.
Continuity must be affected, trust must be accorded and by trust of independence the individual must overcome to perservere. The time is not to quit, but to invigorate, incorporate, redefine stutes morally without unnecessarry deference, more-so made of necessarry compasion. This is not to be seen as a battle but to be see as a war, a war on everything thats wrong with the federal and state statues, whats wrong with conservativism and what doesnt hold within the democratic boundries. We cannot condone this sort of irreverance anymore that could we allow a child to have a problem with dependency or abuse in any and all forms. It will be the compassion of the remaining individuals to perpetuate the philosophy that is always the remainder and always accounts for the denominator that is to be dispensed by the label that best depicts triumph. Because the philosophy of love in any realm does not disclude our neigbors me must not be negative toward grotwh nor positive within anything detractive or unnecessarry such as abuse or neglect of each other.
The fact of the matter is we can live, or die alone and whats to be done is not as imporant as what were doing now because it is not our duty to bear the burden of the princple of any structure lest we have already constucted a base. May the signs remain true and sincerely understood, because we are at opportunities call may we answer, percuss, alleviate, reduce as we redefine, and remember what was not sacraficed nor lost but invested to be properly made a commodity with civil union.
Law is the mode of order. May trust never un-include the individual and our burden in such ways gives to strenth that will open conciousness and enlighten and re-enlighten faucets of the minds of our neighbors. the borders and ques necessarry to understanding lie with the law built with faith to be strong because of a trust established long before injustice ever though itself absolute. It will quash unfairness- the love that binds us; It will synergize proof- the feelings that are to be shared; It will connect trust to trust and law to order and the individual to perpetual and insoluble freedom. Sincerity will never miss. So hit the spot ah.

Sat, 09/12/2009 - 7:40am Permalink
REV.SLEEZY (not verified)

Holy Smoke. The people of CA have made their state law what it is. Shame on the DA, DEA, Sheriff, and SDPD. How can they look at them selves in the mirror, and say "To Serve and Protect" sounds like the only ones they are trying to protect are themselves and their jobs. Arresting patients. Do they arrest people going to the liquor store to buy cigarettes?

The Rev.Sleezy, Activist
Universal Life Church of the Holy Smoke
Potland, OR

Mon, 09/14/2009 - 1:04am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

San Diego...Waht did you expect from a military town? We can't have our U.S. sailors buying pot can we?

Mon, 09/14/2009 - 7:08pm Permalink

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