As Promised, He Called Off the Medical Marijuana Raids—For a Week


Well, this didn't take long:

Federal agents raided a medical marijuana dispensary in San Francisco Wednesday, a week after U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder signaled that the Obama administration would not prosecute distributors of pot used for medicinal purposes that operate under sanction of state law.

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents raided Emmalyn's California Cannabis Clinic at 1597 Howard St. in San Francisco's South of Market district mid-afternoon….

The dispensary had been operating with a temporary permit issued by the Department of Public Health.

"Based on our investigation, we believe there are not only violations of federal law, but state law as well," DEA Special Agent in Charge Anthony Williams said in a prepared statement….

A source in San Francisco city government who was informed about the raid said the DEA's action appeared to be prompted by alleged financial improprieties related to the payment of sales taxes.

If those alleged sales tax problems turn out to be the official rationale for the raid, the Obama administration's alleged change in policy may not amount to much. When Holder said the feds would not go after medical marijuana dispensaries that comply with state law, I assumed he meant state law governing the distribution of marijuana for medical use. If he instead meant any state law, the DEA has a pretext to raid any dispensary that allegedly has fallen short of a state (or local?) legal requirement, no matter how trivial, even if state law enforcement agencies have shown no interest in the issue.

I discussed the possible impact of Holder's announcement in this week's column.