Dispensary Protester.jpg
Image source
DEA agents raided at least four medical-marijuana dispensaries in Spokane yesterday, a month after federal prosecutors warned the business owners and their landlords

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Spokane Marijuana Dispensaries Raided; Feds Say New State Law Won't Stop Crackdown

Dispensary Protester.jpg
Image source
DEA agents raided at least four medical-marijuana dispensaries in Spokane yesterday, a month after federal prosecutors warned the business owners and their landlords that they are operating in violation of both state and federal law. Meanwhile, Gov. Gregoire will likely decide today whether she will sign SB 5073, a bill to overhaul Washington's medical-marijuana regulations and expressly permit the type of pot dispensaries that were targeted yesterday. Gregoire has stated she will veto at least a portion of the proposal, but a spokesman for the Eastern Washington U.S. Attorney's office says that even if the bill in its current form becomes law, the crackdown on Spokane dispensaries will continue.

Asked if the dispensary raids would continue even if Gregoire were to sign SB 5073 into law as it was approved by the state legislature earlier this month, Tom Rice, spokesman for the Eastern Washington U.S. Attorney's office replies, "Yes. It continues to be a violation of federal law. That was spelled out in the letter that the U.S. Attorneys sent to Governor Gregoire. It [marijuana] continues to be listed as a Schedule I controlled substance."

Posed the same question, Emily Langlie, a spokeswoman for the Western Washington U.S. Attorney's office, says, "I'm not in a position to speculate. It [the state law] is something that doesn't exist at this point."

According to multiple statements issued by Gregoire's office, the new law might never exist at all. Gregoire has said she will likely veto the bill because she's worried that the medical-marijuana law will put state workers at risk of federal prosecution. But, as the ACLU, a University of Washington law professor, and many others have already pointed out, Gregoire's reasoning is flawed, not least because no other state with a medical-marijuana law has seen its workers targeted.

As for the events in Spokane yesterday, Rice says that no arrests have been made and no charges have been filed. However, DEA agents, aided by local law-enforcement agencies in Spokane, did enter at least four of the city's 40 medical-marijuana dispensaries and confiscate their weed and cash. Here's a Google map of the dispensaries that were targeted, courtesy of Spokane podcaster/activist NORML podcaster/blogger "Radical" Russ Belville:
View Spokane Raids in a larger map

"More than one of the locations are next to grade schools and schools," Rice says. "Under federal law it's more egregious, the penalty is greater if you're distributing drugs in a school zone."

Coincidentally, the DEA came knocking at the same time pot activists were hosting a "raid training" seminar for Spokane dispensary owners. As detailed Tuesday on the Daily Weekly, the class--which is being offered again this afternoon in Ellensburg--is the work of the Cannabis Defense Coalition, NORML, and Americans for Safe Access. The lecture on how to best react to law-enforcement actions was disbanded early, and attendees headed to the dispensaries to protest the raids as they were in progress.

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