Tag Archives: raid

UPDATE: Florida Medical Marijuana Patient Raided Hours After Being Mentioned in Newspaper

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Cathy Jordan

Yesterday, the Miami Herald published an article discussing a recent poll that shows a majority of Florida voters support medical marijuana. The article specifically mentioned the Cathy Jordan Medical Cannabis Act and talked about how it could affect the gubernatorial race in 2014.

Apparently, certain folks in law enforcement didn’t like what they saw. Continue reading

Another Victim of the Government’s War on Marijuana

Matthew Davies

Today’s New York Times includes a feature story about California medical marijuana provider Matthew Davies, who federal prosecutors are pressuring to accept a five-year mandatory minimum as a plea agreement. Federal authorities indicted Matthew last year on charges of marijuana cultivation, calling him “one of the most significant commercial marijuana traffickers to be prosecuted in this district.” By all accounts, the two dispensaries Matthew owned were in total compliance with state law and were models of professionalism and service.

He brought graduate-level business skills to a world decidedly operating in the shadows. He hired accountants, compliance lawyers, managers, a staff of 75 and a payroll firm. He paid California sales tax and filed for state and local business permits.

“This is not a case of an illicit drug ring under the guise of medical marijuana,” [his attorney] wrote. “Here, marijuana was provided to qualified adult patients with a medical recommendation from a licensed physician. Records were kept, proceeds were tracked, payroll and sales taxes were duly paid.”

Does this sound like a dangerous criminal who we should spend federal resources to arrest, prosecute, and possibly jail? Medical marijuana providers who followed state law, like Matthew, weren’t supposed to be the targets of federal attack and provide an excellent example for others in the industry. Nevertheless, he is facing a significant amount of time in jail regardless of whether he takes the plea, which will surely take a serious toll on him and his family.

“To be looking at 15 years of our life, you couldn’t pay me enough to give that up,” Mr. Davies said at the dining room table in his two-story home along the San Joaquin River Delta, referring to the amount of time he could potentially serve in prison.

Matthew and his family are not taking this lying down. Matthew’s wife Molly published this open letter to President Obama today in the Huffington Post. You can find out more about Matthew’s case and how you can help at http://www.keepmattfree.org/.

Another Group of Victims in the War on Marijuana

In another example of drug war excess, officers raided and vandalized the home of Beach Park, Illinois resident Paul Brown on Friday afternoon of last week. The apparent impetus for the raid was a mysterious package delivered to the house 10 minutes earlier. Brown’s son-in-law, Wilmer Aries, received the package and noted that it was not addressed to any of the house’s residents. Instead, it bore the name “Oscar” and an unfamiliar last name.

Brown, a 58-year-old architect, explained that the officers with the Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group broke down his front door in the no-knock raid, handcuffed him, and pointed a gun at his face. “The garage door was open. They could have just walked in,” he said. “They didn’t have to crash the front door down.”
Although the officers seized the package, claiming it contained marijuana, their two-hour ransacking of the house, including ripping out insulation from the basement walls, uncovered no evidence to incriminate anyone in the house and led to no arrests. “They were upset they didn’t find anything. When I asked them who was going to pay for the door they basically said, ‘Not us’,” said Brown, who noted the door on his luxury home was valued at $3,000 some 12 years ago and the lock set was another $130 from Home Depot.

Brown even noted that the officers, far from apologizing for their mistake, seemed to be congratulating each other on the operation with high fives and fist-bumps. His subsequent calls to the MEG were not returned, nor were calls from news outlets. He has hired a lawyer to file a civil suit and explains that he and his 77-year-old mother-in-law were particularly shaken by the incident. “She’s afraid to even take a nap on the couch now,” he said. “I can hardly sleep. It changes your frame of mind.” His lawyer, Christopher Cohen, characterized the Browns as “innocent bystanders in the war on drugs.”

As Reason.com notes, this is not the first time a wrongful no-knock raid was carried out in the U.S. based simply on the delivery of a package of marijuana. In 2008, the home of Cheye Calvo, mayor of Berwyn Heights, Maryland, was raided by a SWAT team and his two dogs fatally shot. The mayor complained, leading to an investigation, but as the raid was ultimately ruled legitimate, this will likely not be the last such incident.

Oaksterdam University Raided

UPDATE: Not many more details have emerged regarding the purpose of yesterday’s raids. From the Oakland Tribune:

Authorities refused to provide details about the raids carried out by U.S. Marshals and agents with the Drug Enforcement Agency and Internal Revenue Service. Lee was briefly detained in his home, but not arrested, supporters said. Two protesters were arrested as agents seized marijuana plants and other materials from Oaksterdam’s downtown Oakland locations, all of which remained closed Monday.

Thankfully, the gunman at Oikos University in Oakland that murdered seven people and wounded several others while this was happening turned himself in to authorities. With law enforcement wasting time and resources on targeting state-legal educational businesses and legal medical marijuana patients, who knows how long he could have been at large? No one else was hurt by this person, but things could have gone very differently.

The political nature of the targets chosen by the feds has not escaped lawmakers or the marijuana reform community, either. While protestors turned out in large numbers to decry the attacks, legislators from five medical marijuana states were sending a letter to the federal government, asking it to end its interference with state medical marijuana programs.

Americans for Safe Access and other supporters of medical marijuana rights will be holding a press conference today, Tuesday, April 3 at 11:00 a.m. on the steps of City Hall located at 1 Dr. Carlton B Goodlett Place in San Francisco. If you are in the Bay Area, let the federal government feel your presence.

 

ORIGINAL (4/2/12 AT 12:47pm EST): For the last several hours, agents from the U.S. Marshals, DEA, and IRS have been conducting a raid on Oaksterdam University and other businesses associated with Proposition 19 proponent Richard Lee. Lee was the primary financial supporter of the attempt to make marijuana legal in California in 2010, and his marijuana businesses in Oakland helped revitalize that area of the city.

Reports are still coming in, but it seems that several people have been arrested in the raids and more are being detained at the scenes.

Supporters of medical marijuana patients and the marijuana reform community were quick to respond in defense of Oaksterdam, which is an industry leader in cannabis science education. Protesters have flooded the area, and there are unconfirmed reports that several have been arrested as well.

While law enforcement has been busy knocking over a pillar of the community, a shooting was taking place at the exact same time at a nearby Christian university. At least eight people have been injured, and as of a few minutes ago, the suspect is still at large.

This is a tragic day for the residents of Oakland. Their public servants need to be using every resource at hand to deal with real problems, not persecuting legitimate, peaceful businesses and medical marijuana patients.

Corrupt Cops Busted Selling Improperly Seized Assets

A Michigan man came forward this week with his story of police abuse, and unfortunately, it sounds all too familiar.

According to Rudy Simpson, police raided his home for marijuana based on an anonymous tip and a marijuana stem supposedly found in his garbage. The police found a quarter ounce of marijuana, 12 alleged marijuana seeds, and half of a pill for which Simpson produced a prescription.

Apparently, this was all the justification the police needed to confiscate three pages worth of Simpson’s personal property under Michigan’s asset forfeiture laws, including musical equipment, televisions, DVDs, computers, and other electronics. State law allows authorities to confiscate any materials paid for with profits from drug sales, based only on probable cause. No evidence was ever produced to link Simpson to any marijuana sales, yet his property was seized anyway. According to Simpson, the officers acted like “thugs,” eating food out of his refrigerator and trashing his home during the raid.

Unfortunately for the cops, they raided the home during a band rehearsal, and were unaware that the entire incident was being recorded. This included the police testing their vocal skills on the mic, then openly talking about which of Simpson’s belongings they and their team leader wanted to take! (Follow the first link of this post to listen.)

It turns out this particular unit made quite a bit of money by confiscating big-ticket items during routine, low-level drug busts, either keeping the items or reselling them illegally. The head of the unit, Luke Davis, is currently under indictment for corruption.

This is just another sad example of one of the more insane aspects of the war on marijuana users. Thousands of people have had their homes and belongings stolen by law enforcement, without due process, never to be returned. Some of these people were never even officially charged with a crime or were found not guilty of the charges, but in most cases, the police still sold the property and kept the proceeds!

We live in a great nation. We also live in a nation where the people who are supposed to protect you can kick your door down, terrorize your family, shoot your dog, and take your land and property — all because they think you have some plant matter that is safer to use than alcohol. And there isn’t much you can do about it.

This is why all Americans need to support ending marijuana prohibition: It is simply un-American.