Doesn’t Oakland PD have something more important to do?

30 Oct

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.)

5 Responses to “Doesn’t Oakland PD have something more important to do?”

  1. Mike April 27, 2008 at 10:38 am #

    You know, it would be one thing if these dispensaries were only giving meds to patients that need them. However that is not the case. I can go get a medical marijuana card right now for $75, no questions asked. So can everyone over 18 in the bay area. You stop these little kids with no medical conditions from using these places as a means to “reup,” you might have a better chance and making the DEA go away. Until then, dispensaries are a joke – plain and simple.

  2. Becks April 28, 2008 at 6:00 pm #

    Mike – just one question for you. If someone walks into a regular pharmacy and doesn’t look sick, should the pharmacy turn that person away?

    Of course not. It’s not the responsibility of the pharmacy or the dispensary to judge whether a patient is sick enough to obtain his/her medicine.

    So why are we punishing the dispensaries, if they have done nothing wrong and really have no means of determining who’s “sick enough” except by confirming the doctor’s recommendation?

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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    […] I’m certainly sympathetic to other bloggers who’ve had to ask about such partnerships: Doesn’t OPD have something more important to do?. At the very least, I have quite a few questions about the task force and how the task […]

  2. Why is Oakland selling our police officers to outside agencies? | A Better Oakland - December 6, 2007

    […] I’m certainly sympathetic to other bloggers who’ve had to ask about such partnerships: Doesn’t OPD have something more important to do? (For those who can’t be bothered to click through: Becks discusses in that post a DEA raid on […]

  3. Nancy Nadel needs to go. Now. | A Better Oakland - May 28, 2008

    […] Why then did she vote in favor of selling one of our police officers to the DEA so they run around busting dispensaries? She voted for it at the Public Safety Committee last November, and again at the City Council […]

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