Olympia

Raided marijuana dispensaries had been targeted before

Raided marijuana dispensaries had been targeted before
SEATTLE - The four marijuana dispensaries raided by federal authorities in Washington state this week were all targets of previous federal raids.

Seattle Cross, Tacoma Cross, Key Peninsula Cross and Bayside Collective - formerly Lacey Cross - were among about 20 medical marijuana storefronts raided by the Drug Enforcement Administration in November 2011.

The DEA has provided little information about the four searches conducted Wednesday, but an employee at Bayside Collective told The Associated Press she was informed by agents that the raids were part of a two-year investigation.

A search warrant affidavit filed in support of the earlier searches said there was evidence that the medical dispensaries were fronts for commercial drug dealing. No federal criminal charges immediately resulted from the 2011 searches of those four shops.

Washington voters legalized adult possession of marijuana last fall, but it remains illegal under federal law. The state's medical marijuana law does not allow for storefront dispensaries, but many have been tolerated by law enforcement.

A leading marijuana lawyer says there's been a lull in federal enforcement.

"And I think people have misinterpreted that lull," said Doug Hiatt. "And I think that the federal government’s making up its mind what it's going to do and to interpret that lull as acceptance was a really bad idea."

One medicinal marijuana client who wanted to remain anonymous said it's an inevitable fight between the federal and state governments.

"The voters voted. We 'll see what happens," the person said. "I think things will be brought to the supreme court level at some point and this is a good test for the constitution of the United States of America."

Right now, Tacoma Cross will stay closed as will the other dispensaries until further notice, and KOMO News has heard many other dispensaries after they got word of this raid started shutting down too, hoping to be skirted by the DEA.

Those cited were told they needed to appear before a federal grand jury in Seattle in September.