Agents Raid West Hollywood Marijuana Dispensaries

January 16, 2007

NBC 4 and City News Service, NBC 4 TV (LA)

Federal agents on Wednesday raided five of the seven medical marijuana dispensaries in West Hollywood, a city councilman said.


Drug Enforcement Administration agents raided four locations on Santa Monica Boulevard and a fifth on Sunset Boulevard, said Councilman Jeffrey Prang.


DEA representatives could not be reached immediately for comment, but a spokesman for the Sheriff's Department -- which polices the city -- confirmed that raids were carried out in the city by DEA agents.

"Basically, the DEA is serving search warrants at locations in West Hollywood and the Sheriff's Department is providing traffic control and security," said sheriff's Deputy Ed Hernandez.


Prang said he drove by one of the locations Wednesday afternoon and it had been taped off.


"The DEA was inside, going through computer files and papers," said Prang, who is employed by the Sheriff's Department in a civilian capacity.


The raids came on the heels of a vote by the West Hollywood City Council on Tuesday night "toughening the restrictions affecting these establishments," said Prang.


"West Hollywood has been a leader and advocate of the compassionate use of marijuana for people with HIV and other serious illnesses who find it brings them relief," Prang said.


He said marijuana is known for lessening the nausea connected with chemotherapy treatments used to treat cancer and also helps people with HIV or AIDS who get "wasting syndrome."


The marijuana helps them maintain their appetite, he said.


"I'm not an expert, but if people are terminally sick or are suffering, why would one deny them access?" he said.


He said another medical marijuana dispensary was raided in the San Fernando Valley last week, and several in Northern California were raided over the last few weeks.


Supporters of the medical marijuana dispensaries said they plan to stage a protest at West Hollywood City Hall on Thursday to condemn the raids.


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

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