By Mike Liszewski
By now most medical cannabis activists are aware that several medical marijuana dispensaries in Washington state were raided Wednesday. While the federal government continues to raid medical cannabis providers on a routine basis, the 18 raids were such a rare show of force that major news outlets have picked up on the story, with NBC reporting that a DEA agent added insult to injury by boasting to a raided provider that"[t]hings are going to be hell for you." These raids constitute one of President Obama's single biggest days of paramilitary action in the federal crackdown on medical cannabis patients and providers, but what did this massive offensive cost taxpayers?
According to ASA's What's the Cost? report, the investigations and raids may have cost taxpayers $12,327,732. While the raids themselves cost just over $300,000, the lengthy investigations leading up to the raids cost taxpayers a staggering $12,014,334 according toASA's calculations. This amount far exceeds the average of $180,000 that the federal government spends fighting its war on medical cannabis. In 2012 alone, the DEA used 4% of its budget on medical cannabis suppression.
This is not the first time the first time the feds have launched a massive offensive against Washington state patients and providers. In 2011, 14 Seattle-area dispensaries were raided in similar fashion. Earlier in that year, the US Attorney for Washington issued a threat letter to the Governor Christine Gregoire which helped bully her into line item vetoing the dispensary portions of a bill that passed both the Washington House and Senate.
Even with the federal government going to such great lengths to prevent the successful passage and implementation of medical cannabis laws, an ever-increasing number of states have chosen to adopt them. With support for safe and legal access to medical cannabis now at 85%, nobody knows how much longer the federal government will continue to waste precious resources to crack down on medical cannabis, but without Congressional action to stop the madness, there is unfortunately no end in sight. ASA urges everyone who cares about safe and legal access to medical cannabis to join the Peace for Patients campaign and make sure their members of Congress take action to end the federal crackdown.