Marijuana activists nervous after raids

Marijuana activists in the U.S. fear that recent raids by federal agents are the beginning of an attempt by authorities to wipe out local dispensaries which provide marijuana for medical purposes.

The raids follow the U.S. Supreme Court backing of the enforcement of federal drug laws earlier this month.

Bruce Mirken, the San Francisco-based spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, referring to three high-profile raids of pot clubs by the Drug Enforcement Agency, says they are wondering if this an opening round.

California law allows pot clubs to sell marijuana to people with a doctor's approval to use it and San Francisco has long tolerated the presence of the establishments.

Mayor Gavin Newsom says the raids will not change that, but he suggests the clubs need to be monitored by local officials to ensure they dispense marijuana only to the those with medical conditions.

Federal agents are insisting that the raids this weeks struck at fronts for criminal enterprises.

Fifteen people linked to three San Francisco pot clubs have been arrested, and more than 9,000 marijuana plants with a street value estimated at $5 million have been seized in the raids, linked to what they described as a probe of international drug trafficking and money laundering.

They insist the timing of the raids in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court decision earlier this month was a coincidence.

According to DEA Agent Javier Pena, the San Francisco agent in charge of the probe, they have been investigating a group of major narcotic traffickers for two years, and they expect to make further arrests and seizures.

Although the DEA apparently empathizes with sick individuals, they will not rule out further raids of San Francisco pot clubs says Pena.

But medicinal marijuana activists are not convinced and believe the government aims to make an example of San Francisco's pot clubs.

Mirken says they are trying to check the veracity of what the DEA and U.S. Attorney were saying.

He says the charges filed were overwhelmingly marijuana cultivation charges, and on the surface it looks like a medical marijuana raid.


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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