- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 18, 2007

Federal agents in California and Washington state have raided several medical marijuana distribution centers, seizing thousands of pounds of the drug, marijuana-laced edibles, weapons and cash. There were no arrests.

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge Ralph W. Partridge, who heads the agency’s Los Angeles field office, said his agents served 11 federal search warrants yesterday at marijuana distribution centers located throughout Los Angeles County, including five locations in West Hollywood, four in the San Fernando Valley, as well as locations in Hollywood and Venice.

“Today’s enforcement operations show that these establishments are nothing more than drug-trafficking organizations bringing criminal activities to our neighborhoods and drugs near our children and schools,” Mr. Partridge said.

He described the investigation as ongoing, adding that “leads are being actively pursued and developed.”

In California, according to the DEA, there is no state regulation or standard of the cultivation or distribution of medical marijuana. The state leaves the establishment of any guidelines to local jurisdictions, which can vary widely.

The DEA and its local and state counterparts routinely have said that large-scale drug traffickers hide behind and invoke California’s Proposition 215, even when there is no evidence of any medical claim. Prop. 215 created an exemption from criminal penalties for medical use of marijuana. But it does not legalize marijuana; it only changes how medical patients and their “primary caregivers” will be treated by the state’s court system.

The DEA said high-level traffickers often pose as caregivers and are able to sell illegal drugs with impunity.

Drug-enforcement agents also raided the Everett, Wash., headquarters of an advocacy group for medical marijuana patients, confiscating what police documents said were more than 1,000 marijuana plants and computers whose owners said contain personal information on 200 people authorized to use the drug for medicinal purposes.

Detective Roy Alloway, assigned to the federally funded West Sound Narcotics Enforcement Team, discounted assertions by spokesmen for the group that the center was designed as a source for medicinal marijuana only. He told the Associated Press the site was a drug-dealing enterprise, adding that it was “absurd” to think that the number of plants there would be covered by a medicinal marijuana medical authorization.

Washington law allows possession of marijuana in doctor-approved cases but makes no provision for obtaining it.

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