Feds raid at least 4 dispensaries in Seattle, Olympia, Tacoma
OLYMPIA, WA — Federal agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration launched a new battle in the war against medical marijuana dispensaries in Washington on Wednesday, raiding several medical marijuana dispensaries the Puget Sound region.
A number of dispensaries in the area were closed for business as word of the raids, which began around 11 am PDT, spread among the community.
Raids were reported at Seattle Cross, Tacoma Cross, and Bayside Collective in Olympia, according to Seattle attorney Douglas Hiatt.
“A client of mine who was talking to a D.E.A agent was told that there were going to be 18 places raided today up and down the corridor,” said Hiatt, referring to the I-5 corridor that connects the cities.
DEA spokesperson Jodie Underwood confirmed Wednesday that an operation was currently under way, but declined to provide any details about how many dispensaries were being targeted or how many search warrants were being executed.
Addy Norton, an employee at Bayside Collective, told the Olympian that she was “terrified” during this morning’s raid, telling the newspaper that DEA agents pointed guns in her face as they entered the building.
Another employee from Bayside Collective, Casey Lee, said that agents took 11 or 12 plants and seized about a quarter pound of marijuana, but did not arrest anyone working at the dispensary, saying they would be federally subpoenaed.
“I don’t think we’re doing anything wrong here,” Lee told the Olympian. “This is really disturbing. We just opened last month.”
Lee added that in the short time they have been open, they have done everything they can to comply with Washington state law, which allows medical marijuana collectives to provide cannabis to authorized patients.
Since 2011, federal agents have been cracking down on medical marijuana dispensaries in states that allow them, citing federal supremacy over state laws.
Officials from the US Department of Justice have claimed they are not cracking down on small dispensaries or caregivers helping legitimate patients, only those that they perceive as fronts for drug trafficking, but Lee disagrees.
“We’re late on our rent,” he said. “We haven’t even paid ourselves since we opened.”
While other dispensaries in the area closed their doors Wednesday afternoon in fear of being raided, at least one dispensary owner stayed open, who said he was not nervous about being raided.
“We can’t stop them from coming in whenever they want to come in,” said Louis Johnson, owner of Urban Medicinals.
Jonson said that while they try to follow state law to the best of their ability, closing the door to the dispensary would not stop DEA agents with a warrant, as they would likely break the door down.