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Court documents show that several narcotics detectives got their green cards before they went undercover and bought medical marijuana at local dispensaries. So why were

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Drug Cops Got Medical-Marijuana Authorizations During Dispensary Investigations

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Court documents show that several narcotics detectives got their green cards before they went undercover and bought medical marijuana at local dispensaries. So why were those places still raided on Tuesday?

The dispensaries in question are the West Seattle, White Center, and Northgate locations of the G.A.M.E. Collective, all allegedly owned by Brionne Corbray. Also raided were Lacey Cross, Tacoma Cross, KPN (Lakebay) Cross, and Seattle Cross -- a network of dispensaries that police say was operated by James Lucas and Lance Gloor. According to search warrant affidavits filed Monday in Western Washington federal court, the operations failed to "comply with letter and the spirit of existing state law."

The court documents say that the DEA's Tacoma office began investigating Lucas and Gloor on October 13, based on evidence gathered by the Thurston County Narcotics Task Force. In August, two detectives from the Task Force obtained their medical cards at South Sound Medicine, self-described "alternative medicine activists" with offices in Lacey and Vancouver. The detectives subsequently made several undercover purchases from the Lacey Care dispensary. On three separate occasions, the affidavit alleges, the detectives were not asked for ID or authorization documents.

Back in April, grow houses owned by Lucas and Gloor in Lake Tapps and Federal Way were busted by local narcotics detectives. The houses each contained more than 300 plants and each used the same five patient names for authorization, the documents allege. The DEA claims that this constitutes "a fraudulent attempt to take advantage of Washington State Medical Marijuana laws."

Lucas was hit with several drug and money laundering charges last November in Pierce County. This time, the DEA claims that he and Gloor laundered $100,000 through a coffee stand. Gloor also allegedly posted a picture of duffel bag stuffed full of cash on his Facebook page with the caption, "This gonna take all night to count...lol."

The investigation into the G.A.M.E. Collective (the acronym stands for Greenpiece Alternative Medicine and Education Collective) began July 27 as part of a broader ATF operation in White Center.

The ATF sent a paid informant to the dispensary on several occasions to buy small amounts weed. According to the affidavit, the informant has a doctor's authorization for medical marijuana. He (or perhaps she) reported seeing several people getting high on the premises, and passed on information about after-hours, BYOB parties hosted by the dispensary.

On August 30, an undercover ATF agent visited the White Center storefront of the G.A.M.E. Collective. He had previously obtained a driver's license under an assumed identity, which he then used to get a green card.

In September, the undercover man struck a deal with a dispensary employee -- identified as "Reggie" -- to trade two glass pipes for $100 worth of weed. As a bonus, "Reggie" offered up a lit joint to the detective. The court documents say that undercover agent, "simulated smoking the marijuana" and then passed it back.

But Corbray, the G.A.M.E. Collective owner, may have already been on the DEA's radar before the ATF investigation got underway. In August, the agency received a letter from an anonymous source accusing Corbray of importing pot from Oregon and California and shipping it to the Black Disciple Gang in Chicago. In April, the affidavit says, he paid $34,052 cash for Mercedes, and listed his occupation on tax documents as "marijuana grower."

The DEA also took note last December when the G.A.M.E. Collective was featured in a video produced Seattle-based Mary Jane Magazine. The dispensary was also featured in the January 6, 2011 issue of West Seattle Herald, and again on March 24 when it was the victim of an armed robbery.

Eventually, the DEA began surveillance of the dispensary and its employees. According to the court documents, the spying didn't uncover anything particularly nefarious. In fact, the best that the agents could do was watch from afar as people came and went, carrying paper bags that presumably contained prescription pot.

The DEA agent writes that he became suspicious because many customers were in their 20s and 30s, and did not fit his stereotype of a medical marijuana patient:

"I did not observe anyone that required a wheelchair, crutches or walker to enter The G.A.M.E. Collective. I know from personal experience, as well as observations of patients suffering from illnesses -- such as certain kinds of cancer, AIDs [sic], or Multiple Sclerosis -- the physical toll such illnesses take on a person's body as well as the side effects of their treatment. I know through experience and observations that hair loss, weight loss, lack of energy, difficulty in the ability to walk or to move limbs, or labored breathing are common and observable signs of such illnesses. During this surveillance, I did not observe anyone who entered or exited The G.A.M.E. Collective exhibiting these signs."
These observations, of course, are patently ridiculous. A DEA agent cannot possibly appraise a person's medical condition and history from his stakeout spot across the street.

As for the issue of the narcotics detectives obtaining medical marijuana cards, at least one local group that provides medical marijuana authorizations says the cops should be treated no different than any other prospective patient.

"From a doctor's perspective they can't be denied health care," says Josh Berman, co-founder of the 4Evergreen Group. "It would be like a hospital denying services to a person just because they're Asian or of some other ethnicity. You just don't do it. We don't don't do background checks, just we do medical history check to see if you qualify."

GAME Collective Search WarrantLacey Cross Search Warrant

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