Raid Preparedness ASA's Emergency Raid Response Campaign
This document is a tool for preparing for a law enforcement raid. Not every bullet point applies to every provider. Think of this as a guide to having an internal conversation with partners, managers, and staff - as opposed to a simple checklist. To sign up for raid alerts as a providor, please visit the ASA Raid Center.
When providing medical cannabis, there are certain principals and methods of operation that should be considered:
- Organize & protect patient, doctor, and financial data - use encryption software and off-site storage whenever possible (or in accordance with state and local laws)
- Establish and maintain your center in a legal and professional manner - pay your taxes, obey zoning laws, comply with all labor laws, etc. Failure to do so can complicate your legal situation following a raid.
- Minimize exposure by keeping inventory manageable and discussing financial obligations with any debtors or investors in advance.
- Label all medical products and related items "for medical use only"
- Have off-site location to store backup copies of patient and financial data, maybe with your lawyer
- Avoid storing any illicit drugs, weapons, pornography, or unauthorized persons on- site
- Monitor the area around centers for signs of surveillance; approach people who are suspicious. Get license plate numbers and record information about the contact
- Consider having an alternative location to continue services for qualified patients- churches, etc
- Be prepared to forward patients to centers that are still open
In order to prepare for a raid by local or federal law enforcement, consider the following logistical items:
- Fill out ASA's Raid Support form and send it to ASA's Oakland office
- Set up a collective phone tree of people to notify such as you lawyer, PR people, grassroots coordinators, other phone trees and important contacts
- Have backup, off-site phone number for patients and supporters to call (maybe an 800#)
- Set up call forwarding to forward calls from a raided center to an active member
- Develop several methods of communication for during a raid (cell and regular phones)
- Have cameras and/or video cameras available to document a raid from inside and on the outside. Use a remote storage device to prevent the DEA from taking your tapes
- Prepare email, phone and fax blast lists to contact supporters immediately: keep the data in a backup location
- Let other people in your life know what you are doing and that you may be at risk.
- Make plans for child, pet, and plant care. Have a general plan on how to manage your personal affairs if you are arrested.
In preparing for a raid, there are also legal arrangements to consider that may help mitigate the harm:
- Secure the services of or retain one or more lawyers
- Plan for bail/bond
- Plan a legal defense fund
- Plan to support people who get arrested and help get people out
- Plan for being released on your own recognizance; get attorney-client data sheets filled for all employees
- Have more than one attorney on notice
- If you are arrested, be prepared to stay in jail while details of your bail are worked out. It may take a couple of days to reduce it to a manageable amount and secure your release.
Since this issue is very political, it is important to consider the following steps to activate supporters to take action:
- Get ready to mobilize your supporters fast
- Develop and train patient and collective spokespeople
- Distribute a flyer now for patients of "what to do if a center is raided"
- Attend direct action, legal patient spokesperson, and legal observation trainings
- Develop raid scenarios for your dispensary and train staff to enact them
- Contact city council members to find support and have them primed to respond
- Develop quick notification techniques to let all employees know if a raid is underway, especially people in remote areas of a center
- Develop sister alliances with likeminded organizations, companies, and individuals
- Encourage public support for medical cannabis and providers associations
- Learn the magic words "I choose to remain silent and want to see my lawyer," and teach your staff, patients, roommates, etc.
- Develop a media plan
- Prepare an action list of people in places of influence to contact in case of a raid
- Develop celebrity and high profile spokespeople
- Develop non-violence guidelines
- Decide goal of direct action & decide what the action is
- Designate spokespeople, press liaison, police liaison, legal observers, vibes watchers, and outside observers
- Make protest signs and banners and store offsite
- Be politically active in advance to keep our issue a priority in the public mind
- Lobby your elected and appointed officials at the local, state and national levels
- Get the states and cities that have medical cannabis laws to front and support our efforts
- Educate people about jury nullification and the need to not convict for medical cannabis
Considerations for Providers During a Raid INSIDE THE FACILITY
In the event of a raid by law enforcement, there are considerations for persons inside a facility that is being raided:
- Execute appropriate response based on your raid scenarios worked out in advance
- Calm patients and anyone else involved in the raid
- Do not consent to a search, even in the case of a legal search warrant. Do not resist a search, after stating your lack of consent, stand aside and maintain your right to remain silent.
- Say the magic words "I choose to remain silent. I want to see my lawyer," and do not speak or give information after invoking these rights.
- Quickly get all the patients inside to understand that they should only say the magic words and stick to them.
- Call the person at the head of your phone tree to begin the outside mobilization. Notify Americans for Safe Access immediately
- Designate a spokesperson to uphold the magic words and communicate with officers in case of emergency
- Designate a legal observers and vibes watchers inside to manage people stuck inside
- Listen to what the police say to discover information or clues to additional plans
- Get lawyers inside to help if possible
OUTSIDE THE FACILITY
In the event of a raid by law enforcement, there are considerations for persons outside a facility that is being raided:
- Call all the lawyers
- Make sure Americans for Safe Access is notified to begin support role using our toll free hotline: (888) 929-4367
- Call press people and activate media plan
- Call patient spokespeople to come to the scene
- Further activate phone tree
- Coordinate a vigil to support the raided center
- Photograph the raid and make photos immediately available to out-of-town press and supporters
- Contact city council and other key spokespeople to respond
- Have a human on hand to answer off-site emergency response phones
- Update message on all voice mail/ answering machines to reflect current response plans
- Find out which medical cannabis providers and individuals were targeted and find out who is still open for patients
- Stop patients and people from accidentally wandering into a raid or commenting to the police
Considerations for Providers AFTER A RAID
After a raid has occurred, there are certain logistical steps to consider:
- Coordinate an activist/supporter meeting the next night to plan the ongoing campaign
- Coordinate long-term plan for public support and coordination
- Continue implementing media plan
- Make a flyer to update people on what is happening
- Distribute a list of people to target for complaints about a raid
- Activate communications network to get support
- Contact city council, politicians, and celebrities to maintain their support
- Utilize patients and citizen spokespeople
- Organize ongoing and/or overnight vigils
- Re-open or refer patients to ongoing services
- Calm and reassure patients and suppliers
After a raid has occurred, there are certain legal steps to consider:
- Get word out to other providers about raid specifics so they can be better prepared
- Get people out of jail and offer jail support to those inside
- Plan Court support
- Develop long term legal plan and response to case(s)
- Work on defense fund