DEA agents seized several thousand pounds of processed marijuana, bags of cash, guns, and hundreds of marijuana plants. Agents detained 20 people, none have so far been charged with any crime. It was the largest DEA swoop in recent memory.
California voters approved the use of medical marijuana in a 1996 initiative, but the federal government has never accepted that law. Wednesday's raids were only the latest skirmish in an ongoing battle that has seen dozens dispensaries raided this year. Unlike raids in places like Modesto, Riverside County, and San Diego, where recalcitrant local law enforcement worked hand in glove with the feds, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department did not participate, except to provide crowd control for anticipated expressions of public displeasure, and was not even informed of the raids until shortly before they took place.
Medical marijuana activists were not the only people upset by the raids. The West Hollywood city council, which supports the state's medical marijuana law, had only the night before introduced an ordinance establishing permanent regulations for the dispensaries. It was thus little surprise that council members reacted testily.Advocates were hopeful when Obama, while on the campaign trail, said he supported prescriptions for medical marijuana as long as the drug was regulated and that he didn't plan to use Justice Department resources to circumvent state laws. Tuesday's raids showed that, so far, things haven't changed.
The DEA couldn't care less. For the agency, marijuana is illegal, period. For the feds, the raids are not about stopping people from getting their medicine, but about crime, or at least so they say.