DEA Raids in California

It looks like the next round in the battle of feds vs. state in medical marijuana is just beginning in California.

In what the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) called a "government crackdown on patients," federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) officers raided the offices of longtime marijuana activists Dr. Molly Fry and Dale Schaefer, who run the California Medical Research Center. The raid, which took place on Friday, October 5, marks the first time federal agents have targeted a state medical marijuana facility since voters legalized the possession and cultivation of medicinal cannabis in 1996, and comes only weeks after newly-appointed DEA director Asa Hutchinson announced that any use of marijuana as a medicine is a violation of federal law." Added Hutchinson: "[We're] not going to tolerate any violation of the law."

During the search, DEA agents seized 32 marijuana plants, computer files and medical records of the over 6,000 club members from Fry, a physician, and her attorney husband Shaefer.

NORML Foundation Legal Director Donna Shea spoke out against the raids. "In addition to violating the rights of Californians to set their own public health policy, the DEA has seized records that are protected by attorney/client and doctor/patient privilege," she said.

Also in early October, DEA agents seized more than 200 plants from a medicinal pot farm outside of Los Angeles, the L.A. Times reported. The marijuana was being grown for patients at the Los Angeles Cannabis Resource Cooperative, the paper said.

In another case, the director of the Salmon Creek Cannabis Cooperative in Humboldt County, CA is facing federal charges after police raided and seized 200 plants from the club. California NORML Coordinator Dale Gieringer called the decision to prosecute the case federally "highly unusual," since the federal government typically involves itself only in pot cases averaging 1,000 or more plants.

Marijuana activists are worried that the recent raids are indication of a trend in DEA activity that could target medical marijuana clinics, particularly in California, where the issue has received much public attention and support.

Keith Stoup, director of NORML said, "We can only hope these actions do not represent a new federal intitiative to override the will of the voters in California."

But with the John Walters nomination [as of this writing, the final outcome of his Senate Judiciary Committee hearing are not yet known] looming over reform advocates' backs, this could be the first in a long series of battles with the new administration to maintain an unsatisfactory status quo.

For more information on the case, visit DRCnet .

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