Medical Marijuana Activists Claim Seraches Were Illegal

December 18, 2005


Medical marijuana supporters say last week's searches of 13 dispensaries was illegal because the federal warrants were issued by a state judge. Critics of the searches note that marijuana is legal under California law if it's recommended by a doctor, and state judges are bound by state law.

Jon Sullivan, who owns two dispensaries that were searched, noticed immediately that Superior Court Judge John Thompson signed the warrant.

"I asked them about it, and they wouldn't comment," Sullivan said. "It's important because it's a county judge violating state law ... I think it will help with the appeal, if there is one."

Thompson declined to discuss the jurisdictional conundrum.

Misha Piastro, a spokesman for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, said the sweep was part of an ongoing investigation that began six months ago, days after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the federal government's authority to prosecute medical marijuana cases. If evidence suggests crimes occurred, cases could be presented to federal or county prosecutors, he said.

"The warrants were executed as an investigative tool," Piastro said. "We are still investigating whether any charges will be brought, and where."

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