1:52 PM: We’re outside the GAME Collective medical-marijuana “lounge” in downtown White Center – where the Drug Enforcement Administration has a significant presence at the moment. The DEA tells us it’s part of an “ongoing operation” and that they will have a statement “in a few hours.”
Regional-media sources (here’s KING 5‘s story; here’s The Olympian’s story) are reporting a series of raids at medical-marijuana operations all over the region; we’re checking on the status of others in West Seattle/White Center. More to come.
2:32 PM: We have just driven by three West Seattle medical-marijuana dispensaries, including the GAME Collective’s California SW location; no sign of current police activity at any of them.
5:54 PM: Statement just in from the DEA, in its entirety:
DEA SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE MATTHEW G. BARNES STATEMENT REGARDING MARIJUANA ENFORCEMENT
It has never been our policy to target individuals with serious illnesses. However, there are those operating commercial storefronts cultivating, selling or distributing marijuana under the guise of state medical marijuana laws and exploiting such activities to satisfy their own personal greed. The DEA remains committed to the enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) in all states.
The coordinated enforcement actions of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and our state and local law enforcement partners involve violations of both federal and state law.
The DEA will exercise its investigative authority to pursue criminal actions for any violation of federal law, when warranted. This includes investigating organizations or individuals that grow, manufacture or distribute any illegal drug to include marijuana, and those who rent or maintain a property to facilitate drug trafficking.
8:58 PM UPDATE: We also have received a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office:
Today Drug Enforcement Administration agents and local law enforcement executed search warrants in four ongoing federal investigations in Western Washington relating to illegal drug distribution and other crimes in violation of federal law. Each of the investigations targets commercial enterprises that purport to operate as “medical” marijuana establishments but also fail to comply with applicable state law.
As set forth in the search warrant affidavits unsealed by the U.S. District Court today, these businesses attracted the attention of federal law enforcement for a number of reasons: their failure to abide by state medical marijuana guidelines; indications that they were distributing large amounts of drugs; and evidence they were laundering large amounts of money. Some of these marijuana stores were the subject of complaints from their surrounding communities as well as medical marijuana supporters, concerned about businesses operating outside the letter and spirit of state law. One operator was arrested this morning for violating the court ordered terms of his federal supervised release for a prior federal conviction.
The following is a statement from U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan on the ongoing investigations:
“The activities today and the ongoing investigations are targeted actions consistent with Department of Justice policy and guidelines. Our job is to enforce federal criminal laws. In doing so, we always prioritize and focus our resources. As we have previously stated, we will not prosecute truly ill people or their doctors who determine that marijuana is an appropriate medical treatment. However, state laws of compassion were never intended to protect brash criminal conduct that masquerades as medical treatment. In determining how to focus our drug enforcement resources, we will look at the true nature and scope of an enterprise, and its impact on the community. We will continue to target and investigate entities that are large scale commercial drug enterprises, or that threaten public safety in other ways. Sales to people who are not ill, particularly our youth, sales or grows in school zones, and the use of guns in connection with an enterprise all present a danger to our community.”
Those identified in the search warrant affidavits are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.