Jessica Nuna says she was standing behind the counter talking with a patient when the first agents came in. "I'm with the DEA," she says one of them calmly told her--he was the only Drug Enforcement Administration member out of a team of about a dozen Spokane Police officers. By the time the team had left Nuna's workplace--the Medical Herb Providers pot dispensary on Freya Street in Spokane--they had taken around 32 pot plants, $1,400 in cash, several ounces of ready-to-smoke marijuana, and several laptops, cell phones, and other electronic devices.
Barely able to keep from crying, Nuna regardless is promising that the shop is "not done," and that a rally and possible reopening has already been planned for today.
"They came in. They didn't have guns. They just walked in and said 'Yeah, this is a raid,'" Nuna, a volunteer at MHP since 2009, tells Seattle Weekly of what was one of three separate raids on Wednesday, also including the Essence of Mother Earth and Alternative MMD dispensaries. "They were all pretty nice, until I started calling the press."
The DEA and Spokane Police have both referred media to Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Rice, who works directly under U.S. Attorney Michael C. Ormsby, the man who's been warning of these raids since early last month.
Rice, however, has been reluctant to say anything, only confirming to the Spokesman-Review that the raids indeed occurred and that they are ongoing.
Nuna says the agents who raided MHP left several edible cannabis products and other assorted items behind, but did not leave an itemized receipt that accounted for everything they did take, including the money they confiscated.
Nuna took this photo of the raid in progess.
No one was arrested, but the shop's owner Jerry Laberdee was questioned for some time, Nuna says.
She also says that a rally has been planned for today starting at 10 a.m. in the parking lot in front of her store at 306 N. Freya. She tells us that after 1,000 people show up, the store will reopen.
The backdrop to all of this, of course, is that Washington state's policy on pot dispensaries is a blind-groping clusterfuck of confusion--a condition only slightly more epitomized in the halls of Olympia than in homes of the rest of the 39 counties.
And thus we get raids like the ones yesterday or the ones three weeks ago. And we'll get more as time goes on. Already Jenny Durkan, the U.S. attorney for the the Western District of Washington, including Seattle, has made it clear that she's ready to flex some federal muscle by sending a letter warning Gov. Gregoire that state workers could be arrested for overseeing a cannabis-dispensary system in the state.
But until someone oversees a legal dispensary operation, stories like this one will just get more and more common.