DEA Tax Collectors

Medical marijuana raids


During his presidential campaign, Barack Obama repeatedly promised to call off federal raids on medical marijuana providers in states that allow therapeutic use of the drug. Since his election, Obama administration officials have repeatedly promised to keep his promise. Yet as of this writing, the raids continue.

Two days after Obama's inauguration, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) raided a medical marijuana dispensary in South Lake Tahoe, California. A few weeks later, it raided two dispensaries in Venice, one in Marina Del Rey, and one in Playa Del Rey. Asked by The Washington Times to reconcile these actions with President Obama's avowed commitment to respecting state medical marijuana laws, White House spokesman Nick Shapiro said, "The president believes that federal resources should not be used to circumvent state laws, and as he continues to appoint senior leadership to fill out the ranks of the federal government, he expects them to review their policies with that in mind."

On February 25, one of those senior leaders, Attorney General Eric Holder, reaffirmed that "what the president said during the campaign…will be consistent with what we'll be doing here in law enforcement.…What he said during the campaign is now American policy." A few weeks later, Holder was more explicit. "The policy is to go after those people who violate both federal and state law," he said at a March 18 press conference.

One week after that, the DEA raided a licensed medical marijuana dispensary in San Francisco. "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. Williams was not specific, but an unnamed city official with knowledge of the raid told the San Francisco Chronicle the pretext seemed to be "alleged financial improprieties" related to the state sales tax.