Feds raid pot dispensary second time in a month

November 02, 2006

David Olson, Press-Enterprise

Authorities on Thursday raided a Palm Springs medical-marijuana dispensary for the second time in a month.

An affidavit supporting the search warrant that authorized the raid accused Palm Springs Caregivers of illegally selling marijuana for profit, said Special Agent Sarah Pullen, of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, which carried out the raid with officers from the Palm Springs Narcotics Task Force. The dispensary continued its illegal sales after a raid on Oct. 4, she said.

State law allows it to provide marijuana only to those who need it for medical reasons.

No one was arrested Thursday.

Employees at the dispensary could not be reached for comment Thursday night. After the Oct. 4 raid, the dispensary's office manager, Tanya Garcia, denied the allegations of illegal sales.

Authorities hauled away hundreds of bags and pill containers that contained marijuana, along with baked goods and liquids that contained the drug, Pullen said. She said the DEA did not have the authority to shut down the dispensary in the 2100 block of North Palm Canyon Drive, but its entire inventory of marijuana was seized Thursday.

The investigation into Palm Springs Caregivers began in September, after a man who police say "has a working relationship" with the dispensary left a bag of "marijuana edibles" as a tip for an employee of the Spa Resort Casino in Palm Springs.

California voters legalized marijuana for medical use in 1996. It is one of 11 states where medical-marijuana initiatives have passed.

But the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that medical-marijuana users can be prosecuted under federal law.

Riverside County supervisors entered the debate over medical marijuana in September, when they voted to join a lawsuit with San Bernardino, San Diego and Merced counties challenging a 2003 state law that requires counties to issue identification cards to medical-marijuana patients who have a doctor's recommendation.

Reach David Olson at 760-837-4411 or dolson@PE.com

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