Why Is the DEA Trying to Cover Up the Agency's Medical Marijuana Raids?

The Drug Enforcement Administration raided two medical marijuana dispensaries in California yesterday. The agency is now refusing to disclose any details of the raid, according to Redding.com

Federal drug agents Wednesday raided a pair of medical marijuana collectives in Anderson and Mount Shasta.

DEA agents served federal search warrants at the Green Heart locations in both cities, Special Agent Casey Rettig said.

However, documents relating to the warrants and the warrants themselves are sealed in federal court, Rettig said. She couldn't provide a court case number.

Owner Gina Munday was notified by her alarm company Wednesday morning, thinking someone had broken in, she said. The DEA officers had kicked in the door, she said.

"They broke all the windows, vandalized the inside of the building and took all of the medicine," Munday said. "We were so surprised."

As with dozens of other DEA raids on medical marijuana businesses, no one was arrested at either dispensary, yet all documentation concerning the raid--the warrant, inventory of seized assets, and the incident report--were sealed by court order at the DEA and respective U.S. Attorney's request. 

This is all part of a strategy that dates back to at least 2009. It goes like this: With permission from the U.S. Attorney's office, the DEA raids a dispensary, seizing marijuana but also cash and electronics; it makes no arrests, but asks a judge to seal every document pertaining to the operation and refuses to talk about it with the press. This has two effects: It implies that an investigation is ongoing (even if it's not); more perniciously, it makes it difficult to learn where and how often these raids are happening. 

Two years ago, when I worked at The Daily Caller, I did a comparison of local reports of raids versus press releases from the DEA and U.S. Attorney's offices. Here's what I found: 

Late last week, DEA and FBI agents raided five medical marijuana dispensaries in Nevada. In July, DEA agents raided the home of 65-year-old Mendocino County, California, grower Joy Greenfield and confiscated plants, money, and her computer. Also in July, DEA agents raided the home of a couple in Michigan who were licensed by the state to use marijuana, as well as three medical marijuana dispensaries in San Diego. In January and  February of this year, the DEA raided two medical marijuana research labs in Colorado.

In all of the above cases, the DEA and the U.S. Attorneys’ offices issued no press releases and held no press conferences. The websites for DEA and the U.S. Attorneys’ offices in Detroit, Denver, Northern California, and Los Angeles (which also handles cases in Nevada) make no mention of the above dispensary raids, but do feature news releases for raids, arrests, and investigations involving harder drugs, as well marijuana trafficking, which is illegal in all states.

According to Americans for Safe Access spokesman Kris Hermes, this is one of the more notable differences at Obama’s DOJ, where Bush-appointee Michele Leonhart is now Obama’s choice to run the Drug Enforcement Agency. “There was a time under the Bush administration that [the DEA and U.S. Attorneys] were quite proud of their attempts to undermine state marijuana laws,” Hermes told The Daily Caller.

“Either these are rogue DEA agents and U.S. Attorneys operating in violation of Holder’s memo, or the DEA and the DOJ want to be able to go about continuing a policy of undermining state marijuana laws without drawing attention.”

While the lack of press releases and the use of sealed records are two different issues, they go hand in hand. Sealing a record gives the DEA and the DOJ a perfectly legitimate reason to say no comment to whoever raises questions about these operations, even if the records are sealed on spurious grounds. Joy Greenfield, mentioned above, was never arrested, yet the files surrounding her case were sealed at the DEA's request. Is the investigation into her grow operation ongoing? Are there any charges pending against her? Was she involved in a gang? The DEA won't say--can't say!--because her file was sealed by court order shortly after her home was raided. 

As a result, tax payers, dispensary owners, caregivers, and sick people are all left in the dark about why these raids are happening, and more importantly, what the DEA does with the assets it seizes.

"They know the raids aren't popular with the public and that bringing people to court provides more news hooks for the press to write about their extremely unpopular activities," says LEAP's Tom Angell in an email.

"At the same time, they do these smash and grabs to try to intimidate the industry out of existence. The career drug war bureaucrats at DEA are terrified of the increasing public acceptance of legal, regulated and taxed marijuana sales. They want to stop it before it's too late and too many members of the public see that medical marijuana centers improve public safety and neighborhoods and decide that we should just legalize marijuana for adult use."

And while I don't know how the two might tie together, it's interesting that at the same time the DOJ is sealing records of raids (including warrants, affidavits, incident reports, and inventories of seized items), FOIA denials at the DEA have gone through the roof.  

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  • ||

    Surely this type of nonsense can't continue indefinitely?

  • geo1113||

    Good to see that you used proper punctuation.

  • Jesus H. Christ||

    Yes it can, and don't call me 'Shirley'.

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    Why Is the DEA Trying to Cover Up the Agency's Medical Marijuana Raids?

    "Oh, no reason. Why?"

  • Pip||

    Dear Obama

    FUCK YOU!

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    A judge has to agree to sealing the records. So that's nice that there's a check on what would be unbridled federal agents' power.

    And I assume the seal also means the targets either don't get access to them or aren't allowed to speak about them if they do see them.

  • ||

    So basically it's asset forfeiture without even the fig leaf of charging property with a crime. In other words, outright theft.

    Got it. We are headed down the police state kleptocracy road, folks.

  • ||

    Goddamnit Epi, don't you know a nightwatchman minarchist state is absolutely necessary to prevent this sort of thing?

  • ||

    Exactly. Because nightwatchman minarchist states can't grow into statist behemoths. Find an example of one. I dare you!

  • Hugh Akston||

    Come on you guys. You can design a system of checks and balances to ensure that no agency gets too much power.

    I mean it's not like judges would ever become rubber stamps with robes, right?

  • ||

    Hugh, when a person puts on those black robes, they cease to be human and instead become essentially Vulcan, with adherence to pure logic and justice. It is known.

  • ||

    YOU AREN'T A PART OF THIS CONVERSATION HUGH!!!!!

    You add nothing of substance, and besides, I've researched this thoroughly and also make more money than you.

    It's sad when I miss MNG.

  • ||

    Hugh isn't a part of any conversation.

    Don't worry, JJ. You have dunphy now.

  • SugarFree||

    You really put the "gay" in "gay sex."

  • ||

    Me, or JJ? It can be both, you know!

  • ||

    Pfft, I'm not gay, he sucked my dick.

  • SugarFree||

    Sorry, gay people. What they do with each other has nothing to do with you.

  • ||

    Don't listen to JJ, there was no sucking, only blowing. It's amazing how dishonest he can be.

  • ||

    It's amazing how dishonest he can be.

    It's amazing that anyone who knows me (in the Biblical sense - basically I'm saying we have sex) could be amazed at how dishonest I can be. Maybe I'm lying right now. Who knows? (hint: it's not The Shadow).

  • ||

    It was merely a figure of speech, JJ. I'm not actually amazed, just constipated.

  • ||

    and you've got the same tired pop culture references, snark, and contentless drivel.

    everybody's happy!

  • SugarFree||

    Aren't you supposed to be only talking to "adults," aka people who don't call you on your lies, delusions and utter horseshit? Can't resist the urge to troll for attention, can you?

  • Generic Stranger||

    Dumphy is becoming a parody of himself.

  • ||

    Dunphy always was a self-parody. He's just becoming much more nasty now that he realizes how universally loathed he is here.

  • ||

    Seriously. I didn't attack any of your posts today, and you're always acting like you're so anxious to not converse with us, so why make a snarky post yourself?

  • Pro Libertate||

    Asset forfeiture is such a long, clunky term. Is there another, easier term for taking property without due process of law?

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Piracy.

  • John C. Randolph||

    Robbery.

  • sarcasmic||

    Who do you go to for help when the people who are supposed to help you when you're being robbed are the ones robbing you?

  • ||

    The mob?

  • Pro Libertate||

    The Censor!

  • ant1sthenes||

    The A team.

  • sarcasmic||

    I pity the fool who don't eat my cereal!

  • Pip||

    FEDERAL AUTHORITIES OUT ANTI-MUSLIM FILMMAKER...

    http://washington.cbslocal.com.....filmmaker/

  • SIV||

    The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups, said Klein is a former Marine and longtime religious-right activist who has helped train paramilitary militias at a California church. It described Klein as founder of Courageous Christians United, which conducts protests outside abortion clinics, Mormon temples and mosques.

    Anti-Mormonism is at the root. I blame that dog torturer Mitt Romney

  • Brandybuck||

    Twenty to one odds the owners and clients of these establishments will STILL vote for Obama come November.

  • Hugh Akston||

    He's just trying to look tough in front of the Republicans. He's not like that when we're alone. *sniff*

  • ||

    I really would like to see some of these hyper liberal states start voting Green en masse. Let's break this logjam up already.

  • Christina||

    If GayJay had a competent campaign staff they would start directly targeting MMJ people with propaganda.

  • Christina||

    Could Pro-Pot Candidate Gary Johnson Be Obama's Ralph Nader?

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/.....53219.html

  • Pro Libertate||

    You'd think. It's a damned shame Paul won't endorse Johnson, because that would cause some serious shit to fly. For both parties, frankly.

  • General Butt Naked||

    You fucking stooge, the Pauls are playing the long game. To goddamn grabass like yourself it probably looks like the long game is merely a continuation of the policies of Obama and Bush, but you'd be wrong because you're a naive asshole.

    I have been told this by people that are totally not republicans on this here website.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I'm actually willing to accept the Pauls operating within the party. It's not like Ron didn't take the LP for a spin.

    That said, I'm voting for Johnson and think he could make a reasonable splash and cause great gnashing of Demopublican teeth with a Paul endorsement.

    Pretty much no doubt that the GOP owes Paul big, as an independent run by him would've made a hash out of this election. Easily could've equaled the disruptive effect of Perot.

  • General Butt Naked||

    Call me a cynic, but I have come to the conclusion that the Pauls might be in it more for the bigtime politician lifestyle than any lingering ideology. The republican party blew its fucking load on Romney, like the dems did with Obama and without any serious party defectors in either party we are stuck with this shit for a looong time. The Pauls could of done some serious damage and that'd at least give the most statist of republicans pause. Hell, he might of even stolen some Obama voters, or at least sent them Nader or Kucinich's way. Anything to shake things up a bit.

    If you can seriously look at the state of liberty in this country, the spending, the wars, the corruption and conclude that half-measures are called for, then I'd say you're not only a fool, but a dangerous one at that. Imagine if the founding fathers went along to get along; we'd be worshiping the queen's fat, skank ass right now, and you goddamn know it.

  • SIV||

    I'll take those odds. Most of the clients will be too dope-addled to actually vote.

  • James Sinclair||

    Maybe somebody can help me out here, because with unjustifiable shit like this I'm usually pretty good at figuring out what's in it for the infuriating politicians responsible (votes, campaign contributions, political favors, etc.), but in this case I have no idea. What's Obama getting out of these raids? Is there some obscure voting bloc out there that hates marijuana, but doesn't object to Obama for any other reason?

  • General Butt Naked||

    If Obama tries to scale this shit back not only will his weak ass get owned by the jack-booted baby burners at Justice, but he'd also be implicitly admitting that sometimes federal power should be limited.

    For a power hungry coward like our Prez, any loss in power is a fate worse than death.

  • Agile Cyborg||

    What's Obama getting out of these raids?

    You seriously think he gives a single turd about what the DEA is up to?

  • James Sinclair||

    Is that it? He's just asleep at the wheel? I guess that makes as much sense as anything. Honestly, indifference is even more infuriating (to me) than if this was part of some shady political arrangement.

  • ||

    it's clearly more of obama's 3-dimensional chess strategy

    you have to be a nobel peace prize winning constitutional scholar and a genius to even begin to understand.

    honestly, it's just more obama federal govt. muscle flexing.

  • ant1sthenes||

    The drug war, even moreso than the war on terror, is the tool that the federal pigs use to buy the loyalties of the local pigs away from their communities (assuming they have any such loyalties in the first place), by splitting the proceeds of asset forfeiture in ways that local laws or community outrage would not allow.

    If you assume the progressive establishment Obama works for is liberal, this is stupid and self-defeating. If you assume* that it's fascist, and that he can't trust the military to back him on any big power grabs, then it makes perfect sense for them to set up their own loyal paramilitary force.

    *based on, e.g., its corporatist economics, disregard for freedom of speech and religion, lying about the desire for peace while pursing only war, contempt for due process, willingness to undermine checks and balances and usurp other branches' powers, or hostility to any lifestyle freedoms other than those that discourage the reproduction of undesirables like blacks, feminists, and gays.

  • Drake||

    The DEA is a very good sized standing army of 11,000 employees. And it is absolutely loyal only to the Executive Branch of the U.S. government.

    The ATF and FBI round out the divisions of the President's personal army.

  • General Butt Naked||

    Why don't those useless parasite go and help guard out embassies from rock tossing troglodytes? Oh that's right, that would actually be earning a living and would be more dangerous than locking up pot heads.

    What a bunch of fucking fucks.

  • General Butt Naked||

    And why don't I learn how to type a legible sentence?

    Should be:

    Why don't those useless parasiteS go and help guard out OUR embassies from rock tossing troglodytes?

    Jesus.

  • Drake||

    It's not an army to protect the American people. It is an army to be used against them.

  • ||

    "They broke all the windows, vandalized the inside of the building and took all of the medicine," Munday said. "We were so surprised."

    why? in obama's america??!?!?!? you were SURPRISED?

    this is the most open administration in history. they would never seal search warrants just so they could get around explaining/justfying themselves...

    that's unpossible

    fwiw, sealing a warrant/affidavit is really only justified in certain rare circs. heck, i've written scores of warrants. getting them sealed otoh? um, not so much

    as usual, obamaco abuses an aspect of the law, while abusing ... well just plain committing abuse.

    these foia exemptions are ridiculous
    http://reason.com/blog/2012/06.....foia-rejec

    nice article, riggs.

  • Paul.||

    "They broke all the windows, vandalized the inside of the building and took all of the medicine," Munday said. "We were so surprised."

    Apparently Gina Munday doesn't read the news. I'm betting she's voting Obama in November!

  • General Butt Naked||

    You'd think that somebody growing weed for a living would read up on DEA SOPS. She probably thought that since Obama said he wouldn't that he wasn't. Fool.

  • General Butt Naked||

    Anybody else get angry at the picture above. I mean, look at that fuck, arms smugly crossed, probably gets a fucking erection depriving Americans of their liberty and property. Jerks off to pictures of chemo patients in prison. Fucker is worse that the worst welfare cheat out there; at least the welfare cheat won't throw you in jail for providing cancer patients with medicine.

    Not trying to be a Billy Badass, or internet tuff gai, but if one of those DEA guys get cut down by a citizen protecting his property/liberty I would feel nary an emotion of regret. Just like I wouldn't feel bad if a citizen defended his home from burglars in the middle of the night.

  • ||

    I think you pretty much nailed it. Yeah, I keep hoping someone will light those fuckers up.

  • ||

    Sadly, no matter who wins in November, the drug war is going to go on unchecked and probably be ramped up. It will have to get as bad as things were with prohibition. The feds gave up on that because they couldnt find a jury anywhere to convict anyone.

    If I end up on a jury in a MJ case I will vote not guilty no matter the circumstances.

  • John C. Randolph||

    what the DEA does with the assets it seizes.

    Fifty bucks says they're spending in on hookers and blow.

    -jcr

  • John C. Randolph||

    BTW, it would be a great campaign strategy for Gary Johnson to visit businesses that Ruling Party goons have vandalized.

    -jcr

  • Leigh||

    "They broke all the windows, vandalized the inside of the building and took all of the medicine," Munday said. "We were so surprised."

    Stimulus baby! Think of the jobs created fixing those windows and things.

  • sloopyinca||

    "They broke all the windows, vandalized the inside of the building and took all of the medicine," Munday said. "We were so surprised."

    The DEA is in the stimulus business now?

  • sloopyinca||

    From the linked article: But Drug Enforcement Administration officials remained tight-lipped on the details.

    DEA agents served federal search warrants at the Green Heart locations in both cities, Special Agent Casey Rettig said.

    However, documents relating to the warrants and the warrants themselves are sealed in federal court, Rettig said. She couldn't provide a court case number.

    "I don't have any information on that," she said.

    and

    Anderson Police Department would not provide any information, Capt. Robert Kirvin said.

    Looks like the local cops were more than happy to accommodate these federal officers breaking state law. Any chance to kick in a door, I guess.

    I swear to God right here and now that I will personally drive to and purchase a sixpack of their choice for every officer in on an arrest of a federal agent for breaking the law in one of these raids.

  • Really?||

    D E A
    r v g
    a i e
    c l n
    o c
    n y
    i
    a
    n

  • sloopyinca||

    What the fuck is "Evilcy," you fucking retard?

  • Tulpa Doom||

    Oddly, Reason was totally OK with vandalizing and destroying property a few hours ago, going so far as making fun of the folks who tried to put a stop to it by installing security cameras.

    They flip flop more than Mitt around here.

  • General Butt Naked||

    Are you high? They were pointing out the flawed thinking of the officials and the absurdity of the situation. It even says in the goddamn article not to vandalize cameras. Not that that has any-fucking-thing to do with this story.

  • Hope||

    What ever happened to the public's right to know????

  • Agile Cyborg||

    Eat your finest diarrhea food. Plenty of it. Then, imagine yourself as the DEA and the public as that ceramic bowl you shit in everyday. Unload your butt into said bowl and you have the perfect illustration of what the DEA thinks about the public's right to know.

  • Jason S.||

    Good article.

    The DEA should make this information public. I thought Obama promised that his administration was going to be the most transparent administration evahhhh.

    I question what the LEAP guy says here, though:

    The career drug war bureaucrats at DEA are terrified of the increasing public acceptance of legal, regulated and taxed marijuana sales. They want to stop it before it's too late and too many members of the public see that medical marijuana centers improve public safety and neighborhoods and decide that we should just legalize marijuana for adult use."

    Last year in Redding, there were a four dispensary robberies within a month's time:

    http://www.redding.com/news/20.....n/?print=1

    And from a Chico News and Review article:

    Overall community response has been less than favorable. “Most of the community doesn’t like us,” Lidie said. “We’re way more hated than adult bookstores”—though not, of course, by the collective’s customers.

    http://www.newsreview.com/chic.....id=3812581

  • Lincoln||

    It really is time for the public at large to realize that the DEA is a domestic terrorist organization operating under the blessing of our federal government. They are more of a threat to domestic American's safety and liberty than Al Qaeda ever could hope to be.

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