Covelo, California, Jul 7, 2010: The DEA flouted Mendocino County's newly enacted medical marijuana cultivation ordinance by raiding the first collective that had applied to the sheriff's cultivation permit program.
A multi-agency federal task force descended on the property of Joy Greenfield, 68, the first Mendo patient to pay the $1050 application fee under the ordinance, which allows collectives to grow up to 99 plants provided they comply with certain regulations. Ms Greenfield had applied in the name of her collective, “Light the Way,” which opened in San Diego earlier this year. Her property had passed a preliminary inspection by Mendo sheriff's deputies shortly before the raid, and she had bought the sheriff's “zip-ties” intended to designate her plants as legal. In the days before the raid, Ms Greenfield had seen a helicopter hovering over her property; she inquired with the sheriff, who told her the copter belonged to DEA and wasn't under his control.
The agents invaded her property with guns drawn, tore out the collective's 99 plants and took Ms Greenfield's computer and cash. Ms Greenfield was not at home during the raid, but spoke on the phone to the DEA agent in charge. When she told him that she was a legal grower under the sheriff's program, the agent replied “I don't care what the sheriff says.”
When she returned to her house she found it in disarray with soda cans strewn on the floor. “It was just a mess,” she said, “No one should be able to tear your house apart like that.”
Ms. Greenfield called the raid a “slap in the face of Mendocino's government.”
The DEA has been tight-lipped about the raid, but claims it was part of a larger investigation involving other suspects.
“Here Mendo is trying to step out in front by passing this ordinance, and what do the feds do but raid the first applicant,” commented Ms Greenfield's attorney, Bob Boyd of Ukiah. ” The DEA is stepping all over local authorities trying to tax and regulate.”
Neither Boyd nor other locals believe that the sheriff tipped off the DEA or gave them any information about permit applicants. Sheriff Allman has been highly supportive of efforts to bring local growers into the permit program. Nonetheless, observers fear that the raid will have a chilling effect.
“This raid is clear evidence that the DEA is out of control,” said California NORML director Dale Gieringer. “A change in federal law is long overdue. In the meantime, the DEA needs a new director who will enforce Attorney General Holder's pledge not to interfere in state medical marijuana laws.” The agency is currently directed by Michele Leonhart, a Bush holdover who has presided over numerous medical marijuana raids and has obstructed research efforts to develop marijuana for medicine. Obama has renominated her to head the agency — a move strongly opposed by drug reformers, who are calling on the administration to honor its pledge of change.