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May 1, 2013 at 10:10 AM
Cease-and-desist letters were sent to eleven Seattle area pot dispensaries because they are within 1,000 feet of schools or other prohibited areas, according to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.
The DEA would not identify the businesses or their precise locations. Spokeswoman Jodie Underwood said they are in the greater Seattle area.
Despite Washington state’s new legal recreational pot law, enacted by voter-approved Initiative 502, all forms of marijuana remain illegal under federal law. A policy statement from the Obama administration is supposedly coming on the new legal pot laws in Colorado and Washington.
Underwood said the 11 dispensaries received the same letters that went to 23 local dispensaries last August. She said the letters, dated April 29, did not have implications for Washington and Colorado’s new laws.
“DEA enforces federal drug laws and these letters have nothing to do with any pending legislation or state law. The ballot initiatives in both states are under review by DOJ,” she said.
The letters warned dispensary operators and landlords that the pot businesses appear to be within 1,000 feet of a prohibited area, which tend to be places such as schools and playgrounds frequented by youth. The DEA told recipients of the letter to stop distributing marijuana within 30 days or face property seizure and forfeiture.
“As we continue to identify locations, additional letters will be sent out,” Underwood said.
The DEA sent letters to 63 dispensaries in Orange County, California last week. But a Department of Justice spokesman and California marijuana activists saw those actions as part of a continuing crackdown in Orange County rather than a signal of new federal policy in Colorado and Washington.
Last week a DOJ spokeswoman in Washington, D.C. responded to questions about legal pot with a terse statement: “The legalization initiatives in Washington and Colorado are still under review by the Department.”
March 5, 2013 at 12:05 PM
Two key figures in Washington’s legal pot law said there’s nothing new or particularly relevant in the call from eight former DEA chiefs to nullify new pot laws in Colorado and Washington.
The author of Washington’s new law, Alison Holcomb said the anti-drug warriors are reprising the same arguments they used in campaigns against the two states’ new laws last year. “They’re not raising new issues. They’re arguing we need to stick with the status quo,” said Holcomb, drug policy director for the ACLU of Washington.
The federal war-on-drugs has been an “abject failure,” said Rep. Chris Hurst, D-Enumclaw, who leads state House oversight of the new law. Hurst accused the ex-DEA chiefs of “irrelevant meddling.”
A former narcotics detective, Hurst said Washington residents have the right to determine their destiny. “I stand with the citizens of Washington to try and get it right,” said Hurst, a retired police officer.
The bigger issue looming over the two states is an impending decision by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder on how to respond to legal marijuana for adult recreational use. The federal government still considers marijuana a dangerous drug with no medical value, like heroin. Holder recently said his decision is imminent.
Many, including the former DEA chiefs and Holcomb, speculate that Holder may announce his policy at a Wednesday meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington, D.C.
Holcomb said she has no “inside line” to the Department of Justice and no solid information on Holder’s thinking. (more…)
June 14, 2012 at 10:43 AM
The Associated Press
ABERDEEN, Grays Harbor Couny — Federal agents and officers broke down the door on the wrong home Wednesday during a series of drug raids.
The resident told KBKW she was taking a shower when armed agents broke in and forced her outside in a bath robe. She later found out the search warrant had a different address than her home, where she lives with her 2-year-old daughter and mother. Her broken door was replaced by Wednesday evening.
Drug Enforcement Administration spokeswoman Jodie Underwood says the raid was part of an operation with multiple agencies serving search warrants in Western Washington cities.
KBKW reports the raids apparently targeted marijuana growing operations.
November 30, 2011 at 12:24 PM
Gov. Chris Gregoire followed up on an earlier pledge by announcing today that she was asking the federal government to reschedule marijuana to a drug that can be prescribed and sold in pharmacies.
Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, who joined Gregoire on a conference call today, said he will also back the petition to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration to make marijuana a Schedule II drug, which allows for use with “severe restrictions,” putting it in line with such drugs as cocaine, PCP and methadone.
Currently, the Controlled Substances Act classifies marijuana is Schedule I, with no accepted medical value. The DEA rejected such an idea as recently as July, turning down a petition first filed in 2002 by a coalition of advocacy groups.
In the response, signed by DEA administrator Michele Leonhart, the DEA says it cannot reschedule marijuana because a “material conflict of opinion among experts precludes a finding that marijuana has been accepted by qualified experts, even under conditions where its use is severely restricted.”
Gregoire, in a statement, citied the continuing popularity of the state’s 1998 medical marijuana law as cause to seek rescheduling.
“An ever-growing number of doctors now tell thousands of suffering patients they may find relief from the unique medicinal qualities of cannabis. There is simply no question that pharmacists could safely and reliably dispense cannabis to patients — just as they do for other controlled and more problematic drugs.”
Both Gregoire, a Democrat, and Chafee, Republican-turned-Independent, this year blocked proposals to license and regulate medical marijuana dispensaries, saying they could put state employees at criminal or civil risk of violating federal law. Both governors caught political heat because other states, including Colorado, have regulated dispensaries with no risk to employees.
About The Today File
The Today File is a general news blog featuring real-time coverage of Seattle and the Northwest. It is reported by the news staff of The Seattle Times and edited by Assistant Metro Editor Nick Provenza.
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