April 29, 2011

How to Prepare for a Medical Marijuana Raid

April 29, 2011
DEA Raid

DEA RaidBe Prepared For A Medical Marijuana Raid


Headquarters 1322 Webster Street, Suite 402, Oakland, CA 94612
National Office 1806 Vernon Street, first floor, Washington DC 20009


The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and local law enforcement agencies continue to raid medical cannabis providers, even if their conduct is legal under state law and complies with all city and county regulations. Medical cannabis providers need to prepare themselves, both mentally and operationally, for a raid until federal law is harmonized with state law and state laws are fully implemented. Preparing for a raid does not have to be an exercise in paranoia. In fact, knowing that you are as prepared as you can be may ease anxiety.

This document is a tool for preparing for a law enforcement raid. Not every bullet point applies to every provider. Think of this as a guide to having an internal conversation with partners, managers, and staff — as opposed to a simple checklist.


When providing medical cannabis, there are certain principals and methods of operation that should be considered:

– Organize & protect patient, doctor, and financial data — use encryption software and off-site storage whenever possible (or in accordance with state and local laws)
– Establish and maintain your center in a
legal and professional manner — pay your
taxes, obey zoning laws, comply with
all labor laws, etc. Failure to do so can
complicate your legal situation following
a raid.
– Minimize exposure by keeping inventory
manageable and discussing financial
obligations with any debtors or investors
in advance.
– Label all medical products and related
items “for medical use only”
– Have off-site location to store backup
copies of patient and financial data,
maybe with your lawyer
– Avoid storing any illicit drugs, weapons,
pornography, or unauthorized persons onsite
– Monitor the area around centers for signs
of surveillance; approach people who are
suspicious. Get license plate numbers and
record information about the contact
– Consider having an alternative location to
continue services for qualified patients, churches,
– Be prepared to forward patients to centers
that are still open


In order to prepare for a raid by local or federal law enforcement, consider the
following logistical items:

– Fill out ASA’s Raid Support form and send
it to ASA’s Oakland office
– Set up a collective phone tree of people
to notify such as you lawyer, PR people,
Raid Preparation for Medical Cannabis Dispensing Centers (MCDC)
and other medical cannabis providers
– Have more than one attorney on notice
– If you are arrested, be prepared to stay
in jail while details of your bail are
worked out. It may take a couple of days
to reduce it to a manageable amount
and secure your release.


Since this issue is very political, it is important to consider the following steps to
activate supporters to take action:

– Get ready to mobilize your supporters
– Develop and train patient and collective
– Distribute a fl yer now for patients of
“what to do if a center is raided”
– Attend direct action, legal patient
spokesperson, and legal observation
– Develop raid scenarios for your
dispensary and train staff to enact them
– Contact city council members to find
support and have them primed to
– Develop quick notification techniques
to let all employees know if a raid is
underway, especially people in remote
areas of a center
– Develop sister alliances with like-minded
organizations, companies, and
– Encourage public support for medical
cannabis and providers associations
– Learn the magic words “I choose to
remain silent and want to see my
lawyer,” and teach your staff, patients,
roommates, etc.
– Develop a media plan
grassroots coordinators, other phone
trees and important contacts
– Have backup, off-site phone number for
patients and supporters to call (maybe an
– Set up call forwarding to forward calls
from a raided center to an active member
– Develop several methods of
communication for during a raid (cell and
regular phones)
– Have cameras and/or video cameras
available to document a raid from inside
and on the outside. Use a remote storage
device to prevent the DEA from taking
your tapes
– Prepare email, phone and fax blast lists to
contact supporters immediately: keep the
data in a backup location
– Let other people in your life know what
you are doing and that you may be at
– Make plans for child, pet, and plant care.
Have a general plan on how to manage
your personal affairs if you are arrested.


In preparing for a raid, there are also legal arrangements to consider that may help mitigate the harm:

– Secure the services of or retain one or
more lawyers
– Plan for bail/bond
– Plan a legal defense fund
– Plan to support people who get arrested
and help get people out
– Plan for being released on your own
recognizance; get attorney-client data
sheets filled for all employees
Say the magic words – “I choose to remain
silent. I want to see my lawyer,” and
do not speak or give information after
invoking these rights.
– Quickly get all the patients inside to
understand that they should only say the
– magic words and stick to them.
– Call the person at the head of your
phone tree to begin the outside
mobilization. Notify Americans for Safe
Access immediately
– Designate a spokesperson to uphold
the magic words and communicate with
officers in case of emergency
– Designate a legal observers and vibes
watchers inside to manage people stuck
– Listen to what the police say to discover
information or clues to additional plans
– Get lawyers inside to help if possible


In the event of a raid by law enforcement, there are considerations for persons outside a facility that is being raided:

– Call all the lawyers
– Make sure Americans for Safe Access is
notified to begin support role using our
toll free hotline: (888) 929-4367
– Call press people and activate media plan
– Call patient spokespeople to come to the
– Further activate phone tree
– Coordinate a vigil to support the raided
– Photograph the raid and make photos
immediately available to out-of-town
– Prepare an action list of people in places
of influence to contact in case of a raid
– Develop celebrity and high profile
– Develop non-violence guidelines
– Decide goal of direct action & decide
what the action is
– Designate spokespeople, press liaison,
police liaison, legal observers, vibes
watchers, and outside observers
– Make protest signs and banners and
store offsite
– Be politically active in advance to keep
our issue a priority in the public mind
– Lobby your elected and appointed
officials at the local, state and national
– Get the states and cities that have
medical cannabis laws to front and
support our efforts
– Educate people about jury nullification
and the need to not convict for medical

Considerations for Providers During a Raid INSIDE THE FACILITY

In the event of a raid by law enforcement, there are considerations for persons inside a facility that is being raided:

– Execute appropriate response based
on your raid scenarios worked out in
– Calm patients and anyone else involved
in the raid
– Do not consent to a search, even in the
case of a legal search warrant. Do not
resist a search, after stating your lack of
consent, stand aside and maintain your
right to remain silent.

press and supporters

– Contact city council and other key
spokespeople to respond
– Have a human on hand to answer off-site
emergency response phones
– Update message on all voice mail/
answering machines to reflect current
response plans
– Find out what MCDCs and individuals
were targeted and find out who is open
for patients
– Stop patients and people from
accidentally wandering into a raid or
commenting to the police
Considerations for Providers


After a raid has occurred, there are certain logistical steps to consider:

– Coordinate an activist/supporter meeting
the next night to plan the ongoing
– Coordinate long-term plan for public
support and coordination
– Continue implementing media plan
– Make a fl yer to update people on what is
– Distribute a list of people to target for
complaints about a raid
– Activate communications network to get
– Contact city council, politicians, and
celebrities to maintain their support
– Utilize patients and citizen spokespeople
– Organize ongoing and/or overnight vigils
– Re-open or refer patients to ongoing
– Calm and reassure patients and suppliers


After a raid has occurred, there are certain legal steps to consider:
– Get word out to other providers about
raid specifics so they can be better
– Get people out of jail and offer jail
support to those inside
– Plan Court support
– Develop long term legal plan and
response to case(s)
– Work on defense fund


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