Despite the people and the state of Washington having made use of recreational marijuana legal, federal raids on medical marijuana dispensaries in the state continue. This of course, is unwanted though not unexpected given the confused status of marijuana. As long as marijuana remains a Schedule I drug in the federal books, law enforcement actions on marijuana sale and possession would continue to be addled.
According to media reports, several search warrants were executed by the Drug Enforcement Authority on Wednesday on marijuana storefronts in King, Pierce, and Thurston Counties.
Casey Lee, the owner of Bayside Collective in Olympia, whose shop had recently been robbed, thought he was being robbed again when cars moved in unison and surrounded the shop, and then men began to emerge with their guns drawn. But when he saw the badges, he knew his loss was backed by federal authority. Agents took away $2,500 worth of marijuana intended for cancer patients along with the shop’s business records.
Since DEA automatically confiscates all drugs seized through raids and legal owners can never claim them back, we may surmise the evidence has a high probability of going up in smoke, or being destroyed in a series of controlled burning incidents.
Bayside does have a reputation of providing high quality pot, but never knew it was good enough to motivate fed agents seize the stuff at gunpoint.
Jokes aside, why does this continue to happen? Why does the DEA seem intent on stamping out marijuana growth and sale even in states where it is legal?
The answer, of course seems to lie in big business.
What many people may not know is that cannabis or hemp can be grown for industrial reasons in the USA provided the grower obtains a registration from the DEA. That tight monopoly is broken when states start permitting marijuana production under their own laws.
What many people also may not know, is that while the natural marijuana plant and its raw extract is under Schedule I of controlled narcotic substances, the active hallucinogenic ingredient in marijuana, known as THC, has been moved to Schedule III.
That allows THC, the hallucinogen in marijuana to be made available through pills and prescriptions.
Now, what interest would be there to prohibit research on marijuana, make the natural plant forbidden, make natural and cultural use of marijuana forbidden in its native form, but allow the hallucinogen ingredient, THC to move to Schedule III?
The fact that the U.S. government holds the patent for medical use of marijuana (U.S. Patent 6630507), but not the patent to the way it is used may be a defining factor in the weed wars.
In a capitalist economy, no one spends money, develops and holds on to an asset without intentions of monetizing it. U.S. patent 6630507 is definitely a national asset belonging to the federal government. However, the tight monopoly created by ordinary patents cannot materialize in case of this one as long as people continue to grow and consume marijuana by traditional methods.
In fact, big pharmaceutical companies have little incentive to use THC to create pills or pay royalty to the government for its patents on medical marijuana, if growth, sale and consumption of the plant cannot be controlled.
So, marijuana raids and arrests would continue, even if citizens decide to legalize marijuana in their respective states.