Federal Agents Raid 11 Medical Marijuana Clinics

January 17, 2007

City News Service, KNX 1070 (LA)

Medical marijuana advocates plan to demonstrate outside West Hollywood City Hall in the wake of Drug Enforcement Administration raids that shut down 11 outlets around Los Angeles county.

Federal authorities do not recognize the California law, approved by voters in 1996 as Proposition 215, that allows some people to grow and smoke the normally illegal weed.

''The DEA continues to say that they are not going after patients,'' said Steph Sherer, executive director of Oakland-based Americans for Safe Access. ''But every time they raid a medical cannabis dispensary, hundreds of the most seriously ill lose their access to medicine.''

In West Hollywood, marijuana outlets were raided 7828, 7825, 7901 and 8464 Santa Monica Blvd., and at 8921 Sunset Blvd.

About 50 protesters shadowed DEA agents, who wore body armor, helmets and face masks as they carted away evidence.

Six other stores were searched and closed down, including four in the San Fernando Valley, one in Hollywood and one in Venice, said Sarah Pullen of the DEA.

About 20 people were detained, but apparently no one was arrested.

Pullen estimated that Los Angeles County has about about 200 marijuana outlets.

The Los Angeles Police Commission voted Tuesday to support a moratorium on new marijuana outlets, and police Chief William Bratton pledged to work with federal authorities to prosecute businesses in violation of the law.

The total amount of pot and cash seized was unavailable.

Ralph Partridge, who heads the DEA office in Los Angeles, said the raids showed that the storefront operations are ''nothing more than drug trafficking organizations bringing criminal activities to our neighborhoods and drugs near our children and schools.''

Some guns were seized in the raids.

West Hollywood politicians, who voted Tuesday night to impose restrictions on marijuana outlets, have sympathized with those who contend they need pot as medicine.

''The city of West Hollywood has had a long-standing commitment to the compassionate use of medical marijuana for those persons who are facing catastrophic illnesses,'' City Manager Paul Arevalo said.

Senate bill 420, which took effect in 2004, clarified Proposition 215, and taken together legalized possession and cultivation of marijuana for qualified medical patients.

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