DEA raids several medical pot stores: 'They said it's federally illegal'
OLYMPIA -- The DEA staged raids on several medical marijuana shops in King, Pierce and Thurston counties Wednesday.
It is unclear how many shops were raided.
The DEA released the following statement late Wednesday:
"Enforcement operations have concluded and due to the ongoing nature of the investigation we will only be able to provide the following information: Several search warrants were executed today involving marijuana storefronts in King, Thurston and Pierce Counties."
Bayside Collective in Olympia was among the shops busted.
Casey Lee, an employee at the Bayside Collective, said, "I was running outside because I thought it was a robbery. I couldn't see any marked cars so I went running outside to see what was going on and got guns drawn on me."
Lee and other employees had just arrived when their day got off to a bad start and then got worse, when agents rushed in and took everything, leaving behind bare shelves and empty containers.
"All of the medical marijuana that we had,” Lee said. “They took all of our edibles. They took all of our … They took all of our dry medication."
The raid will basically shut down the shop for the time being.
"We asked what we were doing wrong?” Lee said. “We thought we were complying with every law and everything and they said it's federally illegal."
Leaders in the cannabis community say at least four collectives were raided.
Along with Bayside, Seattle Cross, Tacoma Cross and Key Peninsula Cross were also raided.
“Look, what this is is urban terrorism,” said Steve Sarich, executive director of the Cannabis Action Coalition.
He says he doesn't believe Wednesday’s raids were about shutting down medical marijuana shops, he believes it's just the ongoing battle between a state and voters who chose to legalize marijuana and the federal government where marijuana is still very much illegal.
"They want us uncomfortable,” Sarich said. “They want us scared all the time. If they wanted to just shut them, the letters (DEA letters threatening closure) worked real well.
"If you get a cease and desist letter from the feds you shut down because you can't really fight them but when they come in with machine guns and helmets, that's to terrorize you and it's to terrorize the community."