As state laws decriminalizing marijuana begin to take effect (and grow in number), proponents of access to the drug have been holding their breaths to see how the feds would react. And in Washington State, it looks like several medical marijuana dispensaries found out the answer today as the Drug Enforcement Administration confirmed a series of raids in the Seattle area.
Colorado and Washington State have decriminalized the drug, while close to 20 states have laws on the books regulating its medical use. But marijuana is still illegal by federal law, meaning that state efforts to legalize pot have more or less moved forward with the knowledge that federal agencies might just go ahead and enforce federal law anyway. Here's NBC, explaining more:
One of the dispensaries was the Bayside Collective in Olympia, the state capital, where seven government vehicles converged Wednesday morning. Agents with guns drawn seized business records and about $2,500 worth of marijuana intended for cancer patients, Casey Lee, who works at the clinic, [said]. "It's humiliating," Lee said. "They don't get to see the cancer patients."
According to the AP, the raid on Bayside, and presumably the other clinics, was part of a two-year investigation that'll go before a grand jury in September. Washington state law allows for the possession of marijuana up to one ounce, and has state laws regulating its use medically.
And while access for patients to medical marijuana will likely drive the conversation surrounding the latest raids, there's another discussion out there challenging the way in which marijuana laws are enforced in the U.S.: earlier this year, a New York Times report, citing ACLU data, outlined the stark racial disparity in marijuana arrests nationwide, with Brooklyn, it turns out, being the epicenter of disparity in pot arrests.
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Meanwhile, we're wondering how the recent raids in the Seattle area will affect former Microsoft exec Jamen Shively's plans to found the Starbucks of pot.