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Drug Enforcement Administration agents and local law enforcement officers raided more than a dozen medical marijuana operations in Western Washington on Tuesday, but the sweep did not affect collectives in Issaquah and Preston.
The operation targeted at least 14 medical marijuana operations in King, Pierce and Thurston counties. Overall, authorities arrested more than a dozen people.
Officials said the operations targeted in the raids failed to meet state guidelines or used the state medical marijuana law as cover to make illegal sales.
“Our job is to enforce federal criminal laws. In doing so, we always prioritize and focus our resources,” U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan said in a statement. ”As we have previously stated, we will not prosecute truly ill people or their doctors who determine that marijuana is an appropriate medical treatment.”
Representatives at The Kind Alternative Medical Collective, a nonprofit collective in Preston, and GreenLink Collective, a nonprofit collective in downtown Issaquah, said the raids did not affect the local operations.
Initiative 692, passed in 1998, allows people suffering from certain medical conditions to possess a 60-day supply of marijuana. Marijuana, for medical purposes or otherwise, remains illegal under federal law.
State law allows up to 10 qualifying patients to join together and form a collective garden of up to 45 plants, so long as the marijuana is not visible from public spaces.
“However, state laws of compassion were never intended to protect brash criminal conduct that masquerades as medical treatment,” Durkan said.
Issaquah is in the midst of a moratorium on the marijuana collective gardens as officials attempt to clarify rules for such operations.
Under direction from the City Council, the municipal Planning Department is developing a measure to determine what or if restrictions should apply to the collective gardens. Council Services & Safety Members discussed the proposed ordinance Monday.
The council enacted the moratorium in June. The following month, council members agreed to uphold the ban, but after hearing from medical marijuana users and advocates, directed planners to formulate a solution.
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