Wednesday was a difficult day for the medical marijuana movement. In the morning, the DEA raided the longest standing medical cannabis dispensary in Sacramento. I wrote about that raid on the blog of the organization I work for, Americans for Safe Access, so I won’t dwell on it here.
Before noon though, I’d gotten word of another raid. The DEA was apparently raiding a facility operated by Tainted, Inc., a medical cannabis edible producer. I asked a coworker of mine to drive down to the site to confirm. As he was on his way, I got another call telling me that the DEA was raiding three Tainted facilities.
My coworker soon called me to confirm that it was a DEA raid (sometimes raids are misreported and we like to confirm by looking for the very noticeable DEA jackets). I told him about the other raids and asked him to talk to the agents to find out if anybody at any of the locations had been detained or arrested. After nudging the agents for a while, they finally told him that there were a dozen people being detained, but the DEA wouldn’t reveal whether anybody had or would be arrested. They simply told us to keep calling the Oakland courthouse to check if any arraignments were scheduled for the following day.
Let me back up a bit. You might have read the Chronicle’s or the Tribune’s articles about these raids, but surprise, surprise, neither of those stories give the full picture of what happened and what this means. The Trib’s headline refers to “drug-laced candies” while the Chron calles Tainted a “pot candy firm.” Both stories quote DEA agents extensively. Neither quotes a medical cannabis patient or advocate, despite the fact that ASA sent out a press release explaining the medical side of the story.
I know many of the people who were involved in Tainted quite well. They were doing this for all the right reasons and gave back to the community whenever they could. They spearheaded accurate labeling of medical marijuana edibles. All of their edibles are clearly marked with ingredient lists and warnings stating they are for medical use only. There’s also a clear warning on the back of their edibles -“Keep out of reach of children”:
Tens of thousands of Californians who use medical marijuana depend on these edibles. They either cannot or do not want to smoke for health reasons or edibles are more effective. While the healing effects of inhaled cannabis only last for a short time, the effects of ingested cannabis can last for several hours. Tainted was one of the most respected edible producers, and they supplied medical cannabis patients statewide.
Back to last Wednesday… throughout the day, we tried to gather more facts, but there was little more to find out. Tainted’s attorney didn’t even find out about the 10:00 a.m., Thursday arraignment of three alleged managers until the arraignment had already begun. Luckily, all three of them were released pending trial. They all face serious prison sentences if they are convicted.
Throughout the end of the week, I was in contact with Michael Martin, the owner of Tainted. The press stories have painted him as a fugitive, but the truth is that he just happened to be out of town when the raids occurred. He intends to turn himself in next week and fight the charges against him.
What struck me was Martin’s concern with his employees. He kept calling me to see if I had heard more about any arrests. He had his attorney attempt to intervene in the arraignments. He didn’t want to publicize anything until he knew that everyone was safe. He is certainly not what most people think of when they picture a drug manufacturer or drug dealer. And he doesn’t see himself that way either.
Needless to say, the medical cannabis community is pretty pissed off right now. These attacks on safe access need to end. In August, I told the inspiring story of a huge activist response to DEA raids in Los Angeles and asked, how far would Oakland go for medical marijuana? Now it’s time to find out. On Thursday, ASA is hosting a press conference and rally at the Oakland federal building to speak out against the DEA raids in Oakland.
I encourage everyone reading this post to join me on Thursday and to spread the word. We can only end these raids if we fight back.
Here are the details:
What: Press Conference Speaking Out Against Raids in Oakland
When: Thursday, October 4th at 9:00am
Where: Oakland Federal Building at 1301 Clay St.
What to Wear: Business Professional Attire
For more information, contact Sonnet@AmericansforSafeAccess.org