Medical Marijuana

Beware the Jack-Booted Feet Bermuda-Shorts Clad Thighs of Armored Drug Cops

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Going to Bermuda!

As Nick Gillespie noted earlier this morning, California authorities seem intent on cracking down on the state's pot dispensaries. What does that mean? Well, for starters, if you're the owner of an L.A.-area pot dispensary, those goofy-looking guys hanging around outside your door may not just be having fun:

Clay Tepel knew there were risks to setting up a medical marijuana shop: it could lose money, be robbed or be raided by authorities.

Still, he wasn't expecting the phone call one August day when a voice said the police were outside and he needed to open up or they would bust down the door. His first thought that it was a joke turned to terror when he opened the door.

Heavily armed officers in helmets, bulletproof vests and, oddly enough, Bermuda shorts stormed his store, handcuffed him, disabled security cameras and seized his drugs before taking him to jail.

News of Tepel's bust came in the wake of a statement last week by Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley that he wants to shut down pot clinics that sell pot for profit. Cooley's currently investigating "several hundred" area dispensaries, according to the AP. But he's got an easy way to avoid a visit from his fashionable enforcers:

Cooley said he would target stores who are profiting and selling to people who don't qualify for medicinal marijuana.

"All those who are operating illegally, our advice to them is to shut down voluntarily and they won't be subject to prosecution," Cooley told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Humungus say, "Just walk away"

Good deal? I'm not so sure. It reminds me of the bargain The Humungus offered the citizens of the gasoline-rich encampment in Mad Max 2. First he and his goons surrounded their settlement; then they harassed the residents for a while (killing at least a couple, if I recall correctly); then The Humungus offered them a generous choice: "Just walk away." If they did, he'd let them keep their lives. (Watch the Lord Humungus' complete speech here.)

But in the middle of a post-apocalyptic wasteland, are you really going to just walk away from your only supply of energy, the most plentiful supply you're ever likely to see in your life? And in the middle of Los Angeles, are you really going to just walk away from the pot dispensary that you worked so hard to open?

Still, per Nick's post, there was some good news on the medical marijuana front today:

Federal drug agents won't pursue pot-smoking patients or their sanctioned suppliers in states that allow medical marijuana, under new legal guidelines to be issued Monday by the Obama administration.

The policy is aimed at federal agents, so it won't affect Cooley's investigations. And, as Nick said, "The devil is in the details… and how the policy is enforced." And it looks to me like it still leaves significant leeway for federal drug enforcers to make choices about what they'll pursue:

The memo, the officials said, emphasizes that prosecutors have wide discretion in choosing which cases to pursue, and says it is not a good use of federal manpower to prosecute those who are without a doubt in compliance with state law.

In other words, owners of pot dispensaries shouldn't necessarily expect a break; if authorities decide to target dispensaries, then these new guidelines won't provide any cover.

But by suggesting, however tacitly, that maybe drug cops might have better things to do than raid medical marijuana clinics, it looks to me like a teensy, tiny, step toward a saner drug policy.

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  1. Heavily armed officers in helmets, bulletproof vests and, oddly enough, Bermuda shorts stormed his store, handcuffed him, disabled security cameras and seized his drugs before taking him to jail.

    Why, one wonders, did they disable the security cameras? Did they seize the recordings as well?

    1. Uh, so no one would see them in Bermuda shorts and black socks, obviously. Thuggishness? Brutality? Corruption? All pale before the horror of being filmed in Bermuda shorts.

      1. I don’t have a problem with the shorts. I have a problem with the shorts and the jacket.

        1. It seems to be a standard procedure these days, probably because even though they’ll argue that you’re eyes are deceiving you when the video goes public, they’d really prefer that their reports be the only account of what happens.

        2. The socks! Oh! The humanity!

    2. DEA always takes down and confiscates security cameras when they raid a dispensary and now it’s become SOA. No dispensary or collective raid has been caught on videotape since WAMM was raided in Santa Cruz in 2002. All of the major marijuana policy orgs would love to have some fresh video to show on Capitol Hill, instead of WAMM reruns.

  2. What i want to know is, where’d Suderman get that picture of SugarFree, Warty, RC, and Naga?

    1. Bullshit. My mask has way more spikes.

      1. Their assembled beardlessness sickens me.

    2. What’s just of the frame is the puppy we were kicking. Good times, good times.

  3. But he’s got an easy way to avoid a visit from his fashionable enforcers:

    Of course he does, he’s a prosecutor! Ala Charles Rangel, the powers that be are usually exempt from the laws they are supposed to enforce (unless they really piss off one of their own in power).

    /snark off

    Did they seize the recordings as well?

    Will the sun rise in the East? We cannot say with absolute certainty. However, I would say the odds are in the same ball park.

  4. What i want to know is, where’d Suderman get that picture of SugarFree, Warty, RC, and Naga?

    From when they attended Underzog’s Bar Mitzvah. Or was it his bris?

  5. Wow, now those are some pretty goofy looking dudes!

    RT
    http://www.anonymous.ua.tc

  6. It reminds me of the bargain The Humungus offered the citizens of the gasoline-rich encampment in Mad Max 2.

    I prefer the quid pro quo offered by Karl Hungus in Logjammin’: “I’m here to fix deine Kabel.” You can imagine where it goes from there.

    1. Ze are de Experts. Leave zem alone.

    1. Don’t be fatuous, Xeones.

      1. I am the walrus?

  7. The CA Legislature really fucked up with this. So, what else is new? They need to re-work it. Otherwise, they’ll end up with more assholes like Cooley, trying to make a name for themselves.

    So, what does “non-profit” mean in CA? I was under the impression that “non-profit” was mostly a tax and liability designation. Owners of non-profits can still draw salaries. If a company is in violation of a non-profit status, wouldn’t that be enforceable by the state’s tax authority and/or the IRS, not local law enforcement? If LA really wanted to regulate these “dispensaries”, wouldn’t zoning restrictions be an easier way? This Cooley has his head so far up his ass, it’s coming out his mouth.

  8. Just remember kiddies; hidden cameras which cannot be disabled & offsite storage of digital video — of course, you need to leave a few decoys out for the overlords to find and disable.

    1. Wouldn’t such obstruction of justice practices lead to anarchy?

  9. What a puny plan!

  10. Just remember kiddies; hidden cameras which cannot be disabled & offsite storage of digital video — of course, you need to leave a few decoys out for the overlords to find and disable

    I’m opening a (non-dispensary, unquestionably legal) business soon. Still, I plan to do exactly that. I also plan to have an offsite hard drive backup that’s run daily. Just in case the cops or DA “find” some “evidence” on my computer that I didn’t put there.

    Jesus, reading Balko is a mixed blessing. But better paranoid than screwed.

    1. As an I.T. professional, I strongly suggest you have your security system that’s run hourly. If you get raided, and the feds confiscate the local HD before it’s been through its daily backup, the whole thing is a waste of time. You want as close to real-time off-site storage as possible.

    2. I’ve also considered a “hidden room” strategy in parallel with offsite storage.

      Bandwidth out of the building is an issue {assuming you’re trying to use an uninterruptble wirelss link}. So you might need to queue up data that could take a couple of hours to spool out of the building.

      The answer should include mulitple, dissimiler technologies.

      1. Just arm yourself.

        1. Unimpeachable video and audio evidence is essential for your next of kin to collect in the wrongful death suit they bring against the state.

    3. Forget the daily or even hourly backup if you want to footage of what happened prior to them disabling the cams. You need to have your data stream being sent offsite from the direct feed. You can setup systems that will log a certain length of time constantly and in the event the connection is lost or the image is disabled it will automatically hold the previous time in cache. Thus they can do anything they want to but it will all be on tape offsite. If they get to your local machine before it backsup on the hour or at night you will never see that video again.

  11. 50 points for the Humungus reference.

    they’ll end up with more assholes like Cooley, trying to make a name for themselves.

    But is it a good name? I know hard core neocons who voted in favor of Dr. MaryJane. Who is Cooley playing to, exactly?

    1. The only thing I’ve been able to come up with is the drug cartels.

  12. Did you catch the subtle language in Holder’s justice department statement? He said they wouldn’t persue dispensaries which comply with state law (but violate Federal Law) because it’s not a “good use of Federal resources”.

    It’s not because they have finally agreed that the states have rights in this area, it’s because he’s got better things to do… for now.

  13. “emphasizes that prosecutors have wide discretion in choosing which cases to pursue”
    Silly me – what ever happened to “equal justice under law?”

    1. fresno dan-

      Didn’t you know that “the rule of law” is what keeps us civilized?

      And that straightjacketing prosecuotrs is inconsistent with the rule of law?

  14. Still, per Nick’s post, there was some good news on the medical marijuana front today:

    Uh-huh. I’m sure this new policy will really affect things in a positive manner. Yeah. There’s just no way it’ll be ignored, or contains loopholes or anything like that. Because Obama’s proven himself to be completely trustworthy on this issue. Just like all the other things he’s said.

  15. It reminds me of the bargain The Humungus offered the citizens of the gasoline-rich encampment in Mad Max 2

    The purist in me is driven to point out a small error. The movie referred to has the title Road Warrior. While it is the second movie featuring Mel Gibson as the character “Max” (the 1st was: Mad Max), it was not, to my knowledge, originally lead titled or sub-titled “Mad Max 2”.

    1. I think the Australian version was.

  16. I took a shit in Bermuda once.

  17. Cooley said he would target stores who are profiting and selling to people who don’t qualify for medicinal marijuana.

    So the cops decide who qualifies and who doesn’t? And what if the dispensary is non-profit?

  18. OOOEEEEEECHHHK! [throws boomerang]

  19. “Everybody is scared,” said Tepel, who has spoken with other pot store operators. “Why are voters’ rights being stepped all over? This kind of blind justice has to stop.”

    Blind justice? Seems like it’s pretty focused to me. It does have to stop.

  20. How can ANY business even a non profit operate without any profits in the form of donations? Girl Scouts deal cookies and I know for a fact the people running the Girl Scouts get paid a salary and have overhead to cover. Hell the CEO of United Way or Red Cross probably pulls in $500k a year in salary and they are non profits.

    The only entity that can survive without donations or proceeds from selling things is the government.

    You have to be able to make some sort of margin to enable you to even stay open. From what I hear the price at most dispenseries is so high (no pun intended) that for many it is cheaper to just get it on the streets as they always have. I hear they charge street prices in the legal places to keep the cops from busting in claiming they are undercutting the black market and as sch are selling product that can be resold for a profit on the street.

    How they can make the arguement is beyond me as are many of their arguements. Basically they are saying those people legally entitled to get weed as medicine should be forced to pay BLACK MARKET RATES so that the black market is not being undercut. WTF? Are they now concerned dealers on the street will be loosing market share and giving them price protection? Sure seems like it to me.

  21. I hear they charge street prices in the legal places to keep the cops from busting in claiming they are undercutting the black market and as sch are selling product that can be resold for a profit on the street.

    Classic.

    If the dispensary charges low prices, they are undercutting the black market, probably as a quasi-legal source of pot to resell. And should be closed.

    If the dispensary charges high prices, they are making an eevil profit. And should be closed.

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