Chanting "DEA Go Away!" supporters of medical marijuana met DEA agents and other law enforcement officials as they were raiding a South Hill medical marijuana dispensary Thursday afternoon.
The DEA is raiding several medical marijuana dispensaries in Spokane in what Assistant US Attorney Tom Rice is describing as "Official Law Enforcement Action." Rice confirmed a raid was taking place at the THC Pharmacy in the South Perry District on the South Hill.
Club Compassion, located at 1004 E. Bridgeport, was also being raided by authorities. An eyewitness reported that a third medical marijuana dispensary, located at the intersection of Market and Peone, was being raided as well.
While not confirmed by law enforcement, podcaster Russ Belville aka "Radical Russ", was hosting a live call-in show online where he was updating a Google map showing the sites that were being raided.
Rice would not comment on the nature of the "enforcement action" except to stay that is illegal to possess or sell marijuana in the United States.
The Spokane Police Department acknowledged the situation in an e-mail from department spokesperson Jennifer DeRuwe which said, "Apparently the DEA is contacting local dispensaries today. They are the lead agency and should handle all the media. SPD may be on scene in a support role."
A Spokane Police patrol car was spotted parked in the driveway of THC Pharmacy.
Coincidentally, advocacy groups that support medical marijuana were in Spokane Thursday holding a medical marijuana raid preparedness class, according to website TokeofTheTown.com.
Seattle-based Cannabis Defense Coalition had scheduled raid preparedness classes across the state this week and a class was being held Thursday afternoon when they received word of the raid at THC Pharmacy.
That class was being held by two other advocacy groups, Americans for Safe Access and the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws. The class was adjourned so the people attending could protest the raids.
On April 7, US Attorney Michael Ormsby said that marijuana stores violate federal law and they must close right away.
"The proliferation of marijuana stores, which are not authorized under state law, suggests that drug traffickers are attempting to avoid application of state law through the use of these stores," Ormsby said.
There are other locations being raided by authorities, but Rice would not confirm how many and where those locations are. There are 40 marijuana dispensaries in Spokane.