Federal Agents Raid At Least Five Las Vegas Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

ASA Media Liaison Kris Hermes 510-681-6361

Federal Agents Raid At Least Five Las Vegas Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

Advocates underscore need for dispensary regulations, end to federal enforcement

LAS VEGAS - The federal Drug Enforcement Administration
(DEA) conducted raids earlier today on at least five medical marijuana
dispensaries
in Las Vegas, Nevada, and reportedly seized patient and
financial records, but made no arrests. According to the Associated
Press, Natalie Collins, spokeswoman for the local U.S. Attorney's
office said that the federal search warrants and "supporting affidavits
stemming from what she
called 'an ongoing law enforcement operation' were sealed by federal
court order." The dispensaries raided today by federal agents and local
police included: Happiness
Consultant, Salvation Haven, Nature's Way, Organic Releaf, &
Holistic Solutions.

The federal raids come nearly a year after an October 2009 Justice
Department directive issued to U.S. Attorneys in medical marijuana
states, deprioritizing enforcement against medical marijuana patients
and providers. The Las Vegas raids occurred less than two months after
another spate of federal raids in July against state-compliant patients
in
California and Michigan. "The federal
government should never be called on to enforce local or state medical
marijuana laws," said Caren Woodson, Director of Government Affairs
with Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the country's largest medical
marijuana advocacy group. "The federal DEA must abide by the Justice
Department
policy and stay out of the enforcement of local and state medical
marijuana laws."

In July, Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman stated publicly on local
television that allowing dispensaries was "a very legitimate goal," and
that, "If doctors say that it does a patient some good and gives relief
to somebody that has a dire need for it, I'm all for it." Nevada failed
to consider the issue of distribution at the time of adopting its
medical marijuana law in 2000. Although the state allows "Designated
Primary Caregivers" to supply medical marijuana to patients, the
qualifications are stringent and require "significant
responsibility for managing the well-being of a person diagnosed with a
chronic or debilitating medical condition."

Nevada's effort to address the need of sick patients to access local
distribution of medical marijuana mirrors the efforts in other states
like California, Colorado, Michigan, Oregon and Washington. Both Maine
and Rhode Island have amended their laws to include state-licensed
distribution similar to the medical marijuana laws of New Mexico. The
trend to ensure safe access to medical marijuana by establishing
licensed distribution facilities has even extended to states currently
deliberating new medical marijuana laws, such as Iowa, Kansas, Maryland
and Wisconsin.

"A failure to regulate the much-needed distribution of medical
marijuana by states such as Nevada should not be seen as a green light
by the feds to conduct raids," continued Woodson. ASA has and will
continue to work with both federal officials in the Obama
Administration as well as local and state officials in Nevada to
address the safe distribution of medical marijuana as a public health
issue.

The DEA is currently being directed by Bush-appointee Michele Leonhart,
who served as deputy under DEA Administrator Karen Tandy; both were
responsible for more than 200 federal raids in California and other
medical marijuana states during the Bush Administration. Against
objections from medical marijuana advocates, President Obama nominated
Leonhart to head the DEA under his Justice Department, but her Senate
confirmation has yet to be scheduled.

Further Information:
Justice
Department memorandum from October 2009 regarding medical marijuana:
http://blogs.usdoj.gov/blog/archives/19

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Americans for Safe Access is the nation's largest organization of patients, medical professionals, scientists and concerned citizens promoting safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research.

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