Wondering why the federal government launched an aggressive sweep of medical cannabis centers in Washington this week?
U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan pinned the raids and arrests on “brash criminal conduct” that included illegal drug distribution, violations of state law and money laundering, according to a statement released after the crackdown.
The raids are the result of four ongoing investigations in the western part of Washington targeting dispensaries that allegedly were doing much more than providing marijuana to registered patients.
Durkin said that numerous individuals and dispensaries are abusing state laws enacted in the name of compassion for suffering patients. In some cases, officials were tipped off by local residents who expressed concern that certain dispensaries were engaging in illegal practices.
“In determining how to focus our drug enforcement resources, we will look at the true nature and scope of an enterprise, and its impact on the community,” Durkin said. “We will continue to target and investigate entities that are large scale commercial drug enterprises, or that threaten public safety in other ways. Sales to people who are not ill, particularly our youth, sales or grows in school zones, and the use of guns in connection with an enterprise all present a danger to our community.”
While medical pot businesses in other states fear they could be next, the raids in Washington apparently didn’t involve dispensaries that are compliant with state laws. The federal government is simply trying to weed out businesses that are in clear violation of the law. In California, on the other hand, a similar crackdown also ensnared dispensaries that are ostensibly in compliance with state regulations.
The differing approaches create even more confusion in an industry that is perpetually on edge.