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War on Marijuana Returns with Federal Crackdown on Seattle Dispensaries

By Scott Gacek May 5, 2013 War on Marijuana Returns with Federal Crackdown on Seattle Dispensaries
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DEA Delivers Menacing Letters to State-Compliant Seattle Businesses

SEATTLE, WA – After a several month long cease-fire, the War on Marijuana has reignited in Washington, with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) ordering 11 Seattle-area medical marijuana dispensaries to shut down within 30 days.

Despite November’s voter-approved Initiative 502, which legalized marijuana for all adults 21 or over in the state of Washington, and 1998′s voter-approved Measure 692, which legalized medical marijuana in the state, the 11 dispensaries received letters from the DEA advising them that distribution of marijuana was illegal under federal law, and they were to cease operations within 30 days or risk having their properties seized under federal drug trafficking laws.

“The people of Washington have spoken,” says Kari Boiter of the Washington Chapter of Americans for Safe Access. “An overwhelming number of voters say cannabis is not a crime, particularly if you are seriously ill. Yet the Feds continue to threaten patients and caregivers with civil and criminal penalties. Is this how they will treat the I-502 industry?”

The Washington State Liquor Control Board is currently moving forward with a plan to tax and regulate marijuana for recreational purposes, with sales authorized for adults 21 or older, including plans to issue state licenses to marijuana producers, processors and distribution centers.

It was unclear why the 11 dispensaries were singled out, but owners of several of the targeted dispensaries owners say they are in full compliance with all local and state laws.

“These collectives have worked extensively with the city and state to ensure compliance,” said Rachel Kurtz, an attorney representing several targeted dispensaries.  “The letters from the DEA make no distinction between legitimate licensed businesses and those who have made no effort to obey state and local laws.”

“We strictly followed Washington’s medical marijuana law,” says Arasp Khoshkhoo, a dispensary owner. “We had business licenses from the City of Seattle and the State of Washington. We paid our taxes. We did everything any other legitimate business would do.”

“I would love for the DEA to come out here and take a look,” said Douglas Gerdes, owner of The Only Natural, who received a letter on Tuesday. “I’m not doing anything wrong.”

“These letters suggest that if my clients remain in business, they could lose their companies, their homes, their cars, basically every piece of property that the Feds consider an asset,” says Seattle attorney Kurt Boehl, who represents three of the affected dispensaries, including Wallingford’s Truly Helpful Collective.

Seattle DEA spokesperson Jodie Underwood says the letters, which were sent Monday, are identical to ones mailed last summer to more than two dozen dispensaries in the area, which reference federal drug sentencing laws that increase penalties for drug offenses located within 1,000 feet of a school, park or “other sensitive location.”

Underwood added that the letters “have nothing to do with Washington state law.”

State Representative Roger Goodman (D – Kirkland), a supporter of medical marijuana, called the move another “shot across the bow” of Washington’s pot laws by the DEA and the federal government.

Goodman also pointed out there is no state or federal law governing how close a medical marijuana dispensary can be from a school, even though the DEA letters reference the businesses are being targeted for being “within 1,000 feet of an educational facility.”

Neither Washington or Seattle prohibits dispensaries from operating within 1,000 feet of a school or park. Due to the city’s dense population, almost every business in the city — marijuana or otherwise — is located within 1,000 feet of a school or park.

Nonetheless, some dispensary owners were proactive in ensuring that their businesses were located more than 1,000 from a school nonetheless, in an attempt to be over-compliant, respectable business owners.  But that didn’t matter to the DEA.

“When I opened my shop in Shoreline, the city measured the distance between my front door and the school down the street,” says Laura Healy of now-closed Green Hope Patient Network, targeted last summer by the DEA. “The city said I was 1,058 feet from the nearest school, but the letter from the Feds said I was within a thousand-foot school zone.”

Healy, who closed her dispensary and did not re-open in another location, now works for the Washington chapter of Americans for Safe Access, a medical marijuana patient advocacy organization.

At least one targeted dispensary owner has another ideas of their next move — full compliance with the DEA and federal medical marijuana law.

“I’ll probably go underground, break the law and do what it looks like the Feds want me to do,” said one targeted dispensary owner. “Be a black-market dealer, sell to anyone, and not pay my taxes.”

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  • Doctor Gonzo

    I feel so honored to be the first comment. All of my hard work and dedication has paid off. Getting the top comment has been a dream of mine for many years, and i would like to thank those who have helped me along the way. First and foremost i would like to thank god for giving me this opportunity. Next i would like to thank my parents. I want to thank my cat Belle, for being really fat and always there for me. I would also like to thank my pet tadpole for surviving against all odds for over a week. Next i would like to thank the squirrel that lives in my backyard for climbing trees because that gives me inspiration that i need to get through the day. This is a special moment in my life and i would like to thank any of my unmentioned friends and family that have helped me along the way. This moment will be a moment that i will never forget. I just remembered a few other people i would like to thank; facebook, the fish i caught in the third grade, my light in my room because i wouldn’t be able to see the keyboard without it, the internet for letting me go on facebook, my house because without it i would be homeless, and last but not least i would like to thank all the people out there that actually took time out of their day to read this. I cannot stress how much of a big deal to me this is. I have been trying to be the first comment on a post for years, but that has not been possible until this amazing day. Hopefully my good luck will continue, but this is undoubtedly a rare occasion. If you asked me how i did this, i would say, you can achieve anything you set your mind on. To all the kids out there reading this, i would like to tell them to follow their dreams. Being the top comment is amazing. Thank you everyone.

  • James

    The DEA is a terrorist organization

  • http://www.facebook.com/alexander.sippel.77 Alexander Sippel

    Vote for rand or ron paul in 2016, they both favor legalizing mmj and they want to end the federal reserve and reversing the patriot act :)

    • bobby day

      rand said he doesnt support legalization

      • Darren

        But he did say the states should be able to determine their own marijuana laws, and that’s all we need, a president who is willing to stand up for states rights. This situation will eventually result in a domino effect for state legalization laws.

        In all honesty the president can deschedule marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act with an executive order, however this can be undone by Congress or any subsequent president elect.

        With the current shifting tide in public opinion regarding marijuana legalization though, I would like to believe that sometime in the foreseeable future the people of the United States won’t consider voting for a prohibitionist administration.

        • bobby day

          good answer but i dont trust him

  • The Awakened

    So first it’s… clamp down on marijuana and it’s users, because it is ‘illegal’….and now that the people have voted it into legality as a result of universal awakening and unstoppable shifts of consciousness….it is suddenly, clamp down on marijuana because we want total control of it, with no sensitivity towards the FACT that laws on marijuana have always been controversial and unjust and which today calls for ‘RESPECT’ towards those conscious people who were doing it right in the first place- Go Fuck yourselves DEA !! Your attitude will perish ……..

    • http://www.facebook.com/asa.hubner Asa Hubner

      The states will have to remove the arresting powers of the sheriff’ , like Massachusetts . This way the DEA can’t request local help . This will require them to do it on their own . The State police only enforces state law . Then can refuse assistance to the DEA . The they will be too afraid to deal with the protesters . We must legislate and remove arresting authority NOW !

  • http://twitter.com/kimrobinking confused

    please become an activist thats the only way keep writing everyone

  • http://churchofsmoke.org/ Jose

    Washington should declare an emergency legislative session to legalize rocket launchers in order to restore states’ rights.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/aulbrea.kaye2012 Aulbrea Kaye

    its really sicking how much government spends on putting pot dealers or users in jail be it for medical use or not. you give people 3 hots and a cot for selling pot or using but dont do crap to stop herion meth or guns. this world has really become sad did any one see the comment said we suppl mexico with guns and drugs i bought fell out of my chair laughing.

    • Sandydog

      ” but dont do crap to stop herion meth or guns.”
      That would require ‘real’ police work, it would be tough. Besides if you were a jailor, which type of people would you prefer in your jail?

      • http://Overgrow.ning.com/ ElectroPig Von FökkenGrüven

        They do a great deal about heroin use, actually. Do you honestly believe that the US government isn’t in complete control of 80% of the world’s heroin production for nothing?

        Considering the fact that, prior to the US invasion and occupation of Afghanistan without a declaration of war, they only produced 30% of the world’s heroin supply, and that was declining under the taliban, obviously, if they wanted to keep their people safe, they had to make sure that more poppies were grown and not allowed to be used as opium, but processed into far more addictive and profitable heroin.

        So for those who think that the US government isn’t doing anything about “the real drug problem”, it’s time to spend a few seconds doing some research on the topic. You’ll be surprised at what you’ll find!

        PS: The US government states that “there are no accepted medical uses of cannabis, therefore, it is illegal.” These are the same people who threatened trade sanctions and border closures (we all know those are both precursors to war) against Canada in 2002 when Canada was only going to “decriminalize” cannabis…because the US government was filing illegal patent applications with itself, so that it could grant itself multiple, multiple-medical-use patents on cannabis and its components.

        US Patent 6630507 (prime example) was granted to the US government by the US patent office, in order to ensure that if people ever woke up and forced the repeal of cannabis/hemp prohibition, that the US government would still retain full control of a natural plant it did not create…which is entirely against patent law.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.ellison.5494 Joe Ellison

    America has awakened. We are conscious and aware of our governments lies regarding Marijuana. We know it is safe. We know it is medicinally beneficial for many numerous illnesses,we know it and it’s byproducts,hemp,hemp seed oil,etc,have many uses and applications,from cloth and paper production,to biomass fuel and energy applications,just to name a few,we realize it’s potential to help our economy as well as improve the quality of life for many citizens currently suffering from illnesses which Marijuana could help to alleviate. Hear us U.S. Government,We Know you have lied to all of us about all these things for decades now,and wasted trillions of our tax payer dollars perpetuating a senseless war on a substance,and citizens who use it that you our elected officials knew was not only harmless,but actually beneficial from the start,and we are angry,and sick of this costly,and pointless war on marijuana,we are aware,and nationwide legalization will happen with or without your consent or approval,if you’re not with us,you’re against us,and we will vote you out of office,impeach the president and kick him out of the White House, and elect some more open minded, progressive thinking officials to replace you. The days of Marijuana prohibition have already gone on for far too long,and the winds of change are blowing gale force. Get on board and help us end this ridiculous prohibition,or get out of the way. We are not sheep,we are not stupid,and the blinders are off. America has seen through your lies and will no longer tolerate this from our elected officials,so if you’d like to remain elected officials,then do your job and represent the will of the people,and legalize,or continue trying to spread your lies and bullcrap propaganda and we’ll put someone else in your position who will.

    • Curtis Simpson

      You have my 100% support, but where are we to start?

      • Lost in Thoughts

        Write your legislators. Get proactive about letting EVERYBODY know you’re stance. Educate yourself on your stance, and defend it without being rude or disrespectful.

  • Sandydog

    Who benefits (who is helped) when the DEA raids legal dispensaries? My guess would be the illegal sellers.

    • Mike

      Yep, that’s mainly what the DEA does — act as the price support mechanism for the cartels.

      • http://Overgrow.ning.com/ ElectroPig Von FökkenGrüven

        And how many times have you heard since the creation of the DEA, of a raid on a pharmaceutical warehouse? Pharmaceutical manufacturer? Pharmacy?

        Yeah…that’s the exact same count that I got, too…ZERO!

        • latchkeykid

          yeah it’ always a same classic case of “don’t do drugs, except the drugs we make that usually include the side effect of death.” The audacity of our government to implement injustice with force on its own citizens due to the growing a plant that has never killed a soul on this planet is simply disgusting.

          • http://Overgrow.ning.com/ ElectroPig Von FökkenGrüven

            The lines are clear. The government does not work for the people, or for the country, or for the interests of the people, the country, or the sovereignty of either.

            It’s all a game about money. Who gets to rob the people the most. Which corporation takes the biggest slice of the pie. Which media outlet convinces the largest number of wilfully ignorant sheep to slaughter themselves, for the enrichment and perverse enjoyment of those at the top pulling the strings…the people who NEVER make the news, for ANY reason.

            “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain…he is of no consequence!” So saith The Mighty Oz…and so it is done.

  • http://Overgrow.ning.com/ ElectroPig Von FökkenGrüven

    It’s time we REPEALED prohibition. For everyone. Everywhere.

    “More of the same” isn’t working. It never did. It never will.

    IT CAN’T…because it was never DESIGNED to.

    Not “decriminalization.” Not “legalization.” Not “tax and regulate.” Not “regulate like _______.” Not “government controlled.” Not “corporate monopoly controlled.” Not even “for approved and specifically licensed medicinal use only.”

    ALL of those are just different forms of “specifically delineated” PROHIBITION.

    If you want it over, you have to REPEAL it.

    Unless you really WANT “more of the same?”

    http://overgrow.ning.com/profiles/blogs/the-fallacy-of-the-legalize-and-tax-cannabis-initiatives

  • Gary

    In political philosophy, the right of revolution (or right of rebellion) is the right or duty, variously stated throughout history, of the people of a nation to overthrow a government that acts against their common interests.

  • Gary

    Believe me, dear Sir: there is not in the British empire a man who more cordially loves a union with Great Britain than I do. But, by the God that made me, I will cease to exist before I yield to a connection on such terms as the British Parliament propose; and in this, I think I speak the sentiments of America.
    —Thomas Jefferson, November 29, 1775[8]
    By the time the Declaration of Independence was adopted in July 1776, the Thirteen Colonies and Great Britain had been at war for more than a year. Relations between the colonies and the mother country had been deteriorating since the end of the Seven Years’ War in 1763. The war had plunged the British government deep into debt, and so Parliament enacted a series of measures to increase tax revenue from the colonies. Parliament believed that these acts, such as the Stamp Act of 1765 and the Townshend Acts of 1767, were a legitimate means of having the colonies pay their fair share of the costs to keep the colonies in the British Empire.[9]
    Many colonists, however, had developed a different conception of the empire. Because the colonies were not directly represented in Parliament, colonists argued that Parliament had no right to levy taxes upon them. This tax dispute was part of a larger divergence between British and American interpretations of the British Constitution and the extent of Parliament’s authority in the colonies.[10] The orthodox British view, dating from the Glorious Revolution of 1688, was that Parliament was the supreme authority throughout the empire, and so by definition anything Parliament did was constitutional.[11] In the colonies, however, the idea had developed that the British Constitution recognized certain fundamental rights that no government—not even Parliament—could violate.[12] After the Townshend Acts, some essayists even began to question whether Parliament had any legitimate jurisdiction in the colonies at all.[13] Anticipating the arrangement of the British Commonwealth,[14] by 1774 American writers such as Samuel Adams, James Wilson, and Thomas Jefferson were arguing that Parliament was the legislature of Great Britain only, and that the colonies, which had their own legislatures, were connected to the rest of the empire only through their allegiance to the Crown.[15]

  • Gary

    “We The People” have voted. Will history repeat itself, does it have too. The federal government is not supreme, although they think they are, just like parliament did. We have told the feds our wishes and they have refused us, Look at what Kansas just did re: The 2nd Amendment.

  • PCB

    DEA and Obama need to pull their heads out of ass. Cartels are lovn their help to keep drug $$$ in the black market. Absolutely sickening Americans vote these clowns into office.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/ralph.jones.7509836 Ralph Jones

    Well it seems like Anti christ the oppressor is working for death again. If you cant do it legally then you will have to do it illegally so little children dont have to suffer and die as a consequence and also too adults. They are using the law against you on purpose so to seemingly prove that they are the people that know the best , well they are asking for trouble really if they are closing medical Marijuana dispensaries !. Evidence has proven that Marijuana is curing illness and the Dea (TH ) are doing their best to kill you and prevent treatment for your loved ones and friends. They are a false organisation and i advise that you arm yourselves to protect what is right against them. What other option is there ?. I think this DEA is a psychopathic criminal which has somehow gained acceptance. The DEA are indeed terrorists and should be dealt as such accordingly. People of America in favour of Medical Marijuana are the best people i have met on Facebook and if any of them are arrested for doing good i will unleash the consequences on the DEA and destroy their entire organisation and force in an anti terror campaign to free America from Terrorism and the evil DEA. Beware of the truth and mark my words….

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  • Jerry Portillo

    It doesn’t seem like much of a ‘crackdown’. The DEA has to do something. They have made up their bureaucratic minds and decided that no medical marijuana dispensaries will exist within 1000 feet of certain community buildings. They do the same thing in all the MMJ states. Now it is going to get even worse. As we wind down the war on drugs, the agency should become less relevant The smart folks will bail out leaving less capable bureaucrats. If they keep the status quo I’m good with that. Maybe the agency will just wander off and get lost.

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  • GustavTheGreen

    Reagan began the war on drugs to drive up the black market prices and the CIA began using this new cash cow to fund all of its black ops, continues to this day. The DEA is nothing more than an enforcer keeping the low level dealers out of the really big game that the CIA controls. Reagan was simply a puppet.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Us-Hemp/100001145340387 U.s. Hemp

    Medical marijuana was deal with the devil to get a joint; and the devil to get a free pass. you should have stood up for your rights to do what you want. Legalization of a weed is not liberty.

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  • CaguaxBorikenlibre

    It’s time for war!

  • http://www.facebook.com/yackery Robert Proctor

    The feds can’t run their own government without putting the country $15B in debt and triggering a sequester, and Holder has the hubris to tell states how to run their medpot dispensaries? A state that formally legalized marijuana with a general election?! All with the “authority” of the controlled substances act? Pathetic tyrants thump the letter of the law to prop up criminals and corruption while ignoring the virtue of the people.

    The question before the court will be which has supremacy, the CSA or the clear choice of the electorate? Do we protect the CSA from the pot people or protect the peaceful people from abusive DEA enforcement of CSA? It will be interesting to see what language the court uses to tell the feds to get back in line.

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  • leroy beetenoff

    our government is steeped in corruption. nullify their actions and run them out of Washington state. the sheriff can run the fed out of town because local sheriffs answer to no one

  • Patrick Carr

    This is ucking rediculous. I’m personally against the use of marijuana for myself, but to harass legal dispensaries? What’s the problem, they aren’t able to start another foreign war yet? Can’t start another scandal selling guns to Mexican cartels?

  • MadMike

    When activist pour the same kind of money as the spirits and tobacco industry does into lobbying our (crooked) House & Senate leaders, then there may be a chance to simply change pot to a Schedule 2. It’s going to have to be a nationwide concerted effort though. Money talks the only language these guys know.

  • susan

    I guess the DEA doesn’t have to listen to our president when he said The government wouldn’t interfere with with the states. The DEA are the dregs of the earth. Why don’t you fight the war on heroin and meth? Why because they are to scared to take on the cartels. Its easier to go after pot. Id also like to say they in the pocket of the cartels. I mean come on when was the last time you heard of a big bust. Of the drugs that are harmful. Nope you’ve heard about the pot busts. Yeah I agree the DEA is a terrorist organization. DEA YOU SUCK AS A PROTECTOR OF OUR SOCIETY. YOU GO AFTER THE PEOPLE WHO ARE HELPING OTHERS AND DOING IT LEGALLY. THEY EVEN PAY TAXES. WHILE THE CRIMINALS WHO SELL HEROIN MAKE LOADS OF MONEY. AND DO NOTHING FOR THE PEOPLE, JUST AS YOU ARE DOING MAKING MONEY BUSTING THE GOOD GUYS AND LOOKING THE OTHER WAY OF THE CARTELS.

  • susan

    I guess the DEA doesn’t have to listen to our president when he said The government wouldn’t interfere with with the states. The DEA are the dregs of the earth. Why don’t you fight the war on heroin and meth? Why because they are to scared to take on the cartels. Its easier to go after pot. Id also like to say they in the pocket of the cartels. I mean come on when was the last time you heard of a big bust. Of the drugs that are harmful. Nope you’ve heard about the pot busts. Yeah I agree the DEA is a terrorist organization. DEA YOU SUCK AS A PROTECTOR OF OUR SOCIETY. YOU GO AFTER THE PEOPLE WHO ARE HELPING OTHERS AND DOING IT LEGALLY. THEY EVEN PAY TAXES. WHILE THE CRIMINALS WHO SELL HEROIN MAKE LOADS OF MONEY. AND DO NOTHING FOR THE PEOPLE, JUST AS YOU ARE DOING MAKING MONEY BUSTING THE GOOD GUYS AND LOOKING THE OTHER WAY OF THE CARTELS.