This morning, as I was pouring myself a cup of tea, I got a call: the DEA was raiding Compassionate Patients’ Cooperative, a medical marijuana dispensary in Hayward. After doing some work to get the word out, I hopped in my car and drove down to Hayward. I was greeted immediately by yellow police tape surrounding the building and representatives from practically every Bay Area media outlet. After doing a bunch of interviews, in which I highlighted the fact that this dispensary had been permitted by Alameda County and inspected regularly by the Sheriff with no complaints, I took a look around. I noticed that there were many Sheriff’s agents there, though I was soon assured by Supervisor Nate Miley’s office that they were just there for crowd control.
I observed the raid for several hours and joined 30 supporters in protesting the raid. Many of the protesters were patients who arrived at the dispensary to get their medicine and were shocked to see the DEA raiding the provider they depended on.
I also started to hear rumors of other raids. Soon, these rumors were confirmed: the DEA was busy raiding six production facilities throughout the East Bay that were connected to the dispensary.
It was already a bad day, but the news soon got worse. The Oakland Police Department and Berkeley Police Department were allegedly helping with the raids. Later in the day, we confirmed through a council member that OPD had helped the DEA raid at least one facility in Oakland. And later in the evening, I read in the U.S. Attorney’s press release that OPD, BPD, and the Alameda County Sheriff had been involved in the year-long investigation.
I don’t think anyone in this city would disagree that OPD is already short-staffed and unable to keep up with the real crime that occurs daily throguhout Oakland. So why are our police officers wasting their time helping the DEA raid a medical cannabis provider that was compliant with county law and paid significant sales tax to the state?
Maybe Oakland police are no better than the DEA and love to do an easy bust sometimes. Maybe they’ve tired of chasing down thieves and investigating murders and decided they’d have some fun today helping the DEA steal some medicine.
Regardless of why they wasted precious resources and staff time on these raids, it is important that this never happen again. California voters have spoken, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors have spoken, and Oakland has spoken through the City Council (regulation of dispensaries) and the voters (Measure Z – making marijuana the lowest police priority). It’s time for the Oakland PD to listen and to start finding some better ways to spend their time. Maybe they could even start doing their jobs and protecting us from real criminals.
(If you’d like to read more about the story, the Tribune did a pretty good job covering it, though they missed OPD’s involvement.)