Raids in California, Colorado Send Chilling Message to Medical Marijuana Industry

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Last week, the federal government intensified its campaign against the medical marijuana industry by raiding two cooperatives in California and a wellness center in Colorado.

Raids are somewhat common in the industry, as law enforcement agents are always on the lookout for businesses selling weed out the back door and dispensaries that violate state laws. But the recent round of raids is significantly different than what we’ve seen in the past: One of the pot operations busted in California is considered a “model” MMC, while the grow operation in Colorado insists it was fully compliant with state laws.

Northstone Organics, located in Mendocino Country, Calif., has a state permit, pays annual fees and is in good standing in the community as well as with local law enforcement officials. Yet that didn’t stop federal agents with machine guns from storming into the owner’s home – which doubles as the marijuana collective – to destroy plants and seize property. And here’s the kicker: They haven’t charged owner Matt Cohen with a crime or publicly disclosed their justification for the raid. “We actually are a legitimate not-for-profit corporation,” Coehn told the Ukiah Daily Journal. “We worked with the county to get where we are, and there are illegal growers all around us. We fell under what the US Justice Department said was the threshold for prosecution.”

The Colorado raid is much  more complicated, and you can read about it here. In a nutshell, DEA agents and local law enforcement wound up seizing 2,500 marijuana plants from a wellness center while investigating a case involving the owners of a different dispensary. The grow operation, called Cherry Top Farms, was operating according to state laws, its owner claims. But federal agents, who stumbled upon Cherry Top Farms while following the other dispensary owners, apparently had to seize all the marijuana once they saw it. Cherry Top Farms is now temporarily closed, according to a post on the company’s Facebook page.

This could signal a new front in the war on medical marijuana. For the past two years, dispensaries and related businesses that are fully compliant with state laws didn’t worry too much about raids. Now, every medical marijuana business in every state is at risk.