Federal drug agents target pot dispensaries

More than 20 dispensaries were raided and two people were charged when Federal drug agents launched a crackdown on medical marijuana providers in California.

Drug agents searched three pot clubs and more than 20 homes and businesses in San Francisco completing a two-year investigation into an alleged marijuana trafficking ring.

Officials refuse to say how many people were arrested or give any other details.

Drug enforcement agents removed marijuana plants from a dispensary on Wednesday, June 22, in San Francisco.

Mayor Gavin Newsom had enacted a moratorium in March, preventing any new clubs from opening until the city devises a plan to regulate the city's 43 medical marijuana clubs that dispense marijuana to the sick and dying.

According to authorities the clubs raided opened after the moratorium was passed.

In Sacramento, Dr. Marion Fry, and her husband, Dale Schafer, were arrested on charges that they grew and distributed marijuana from their storefront California Medical Research Center between August 1999 and September 2001.

These actions come two weeks after the Supreme Court ruled that medical marijuana users can be prosecuted under federal law even if their home states allow use of the drug.

California is one of 10 states that allow medicinal marijuana use.

First Assistant U.S. Attorney Lawrence Brown said the Supreme Court ruling had laid to rest any question whether federal authorities have jurisdiction. Prosecutors also said the cases involved illegal drug runners operating under the guise of legitimate medical marijuana providers.

Laurence Lichter, an attorney representing Fry and Schafer, is questioning the charges against his clients, who according to the indictment grew more than 100 marijuana plants during the two-year period.

He says marijuana was legal in this part of the United States until this month, so any attempt to hold them as serious criminals would have been inappropriate.

Meanwhile the Rhode Island House has passed a bill that will allow certain patients to grow and smoke marijuana. A similar bill passed the state Senate two weeks ago.

Gov. Don Carcieri has threatened to veto the legislation, but lawmakers are confident the bill has enough votes to override a veto.

Democratic Rep. Steven Costantino says that for him the issue has always been a matter of compassion, and he is amused by the fear that this is going to cause a sudden, out-of-control use of marijuana.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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