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Poll: The feds take down a medical marijuana leader

April 03, 2012|By Jon Healey
  • Police officers arrest a pro-marijuana protester outside Oaksterdam University in Oakland on Monday.
Police officers arrest a pro-marijuana protester outside Oaksterdam… (Noah Berger / Associated…)

Not one but two federal agencies raided the Oakland medical marijuana businesses run by Richard Lee, one of California's leading advocates of legalization, on Monday. A judge has sealed the affadavits behind the raids of Lee's apartment, dispensary, marijuana museum and medical marijuana trade school, so there's no way of telling yet what led the Internal Revenue Service and the Drug Enforcement Administration to target him. But Lee was unabashedly pushing the edge of the legal envelope in at least one respect: He argued that dispensaries could be run as for-profit businesses, not simply collectives that members joined to share the weed they grew.

Lee's supporters argue that the Justice Department is going back on its promise earlier during President Obama's tenure not to target those who are complying with a state's medical marijuana regime. The problem, though, is that it's not at all clear what compliance means in California. State and local authorities are waiting for California's Supreme Court to reconcile conflicting rulings about what dispensaries can do and how they can be regulated by local governments.

In the meantime, what should the feds do? The possession and distribution of the drug is illegal under federal law, after all. Take our wildly unscientific poll, leave a comment, or do both!


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