Federal agents raided the offices of the California Medical Research Center in El Dorado County Friday, seizing 32 marijuana plants and thousands of medical records from club members. Club proprietors Dr. Marion Fry and her husband, attorney Dale Schafer, were not arrested in the raid. The bust marks the first time federal agents have targeted a state medical marijuana facility since voters legalized the possession and cultivation of medicinal cannabis in 1996, and comes only weeks after newly-appointed DEA Director Asa Hutchinson announced that any use of marijuana as a medicine "is a violation of federal law ... [and we're] not going to tolerate a violation of the law."
NORML Foundation Legal Director Donna Shea strongly criticized the raid. "In addition to violating the rights of Californians to set their own public health policy, the DEA has seized records that are protected by attorney/client and doctor/patient privilege," she said.
In a similar event, DEA agents recently seized more than 200 plants from a medicinal pot farm outside of Los Angeles, the L.A. Times reported. No arrests were made. The marijuana was destined for patients at the Los Angeles Cannabis Resource Cooperative, the paper said.
In a separate case, the director of the Salmon Creek Cannabis Cooperative in Humbolt County is facing federal charges after police seized the club's 200 plants. California NORML Coordinator Dale Gieringer called the decision to prosecute the case federally "highly unusual" since the federal government typically involves itself only in pot cases averaging 1,000 or more plants.
"We can only hope these actions do not represent a new federal initiative to override the will of the voters in California," NORML Director Keith Stroup said.
For more information, please contact Donna Shea, NORML Foundation Legal Director, at (202) 483-8751 or California NORML Coordinator Dale Gieringer at (415) 563-5858.