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LAPD will continue enforcing federal drug laws despite California Medical Marijuana Initiative

Posted on: August 16, 2007 at 9:43 a.m.

Members of the L.A. City Council have expressed dissatisfaction with the LAPD about its participation in federal drug raids, in cases where the target dispensary is in compliance with California Medicinal Marijuana laws. Ther Los Angeles Police Department has reinterated that it will continue to participate in federal raids on local medical marijuana dispensaries against the wishes of some members of the City Council.

Criminal Defense Lawyers throughout Los Angeles and California are familiar with a continuing legal conflict between federal and state drug laws, which, has created a stalemate. The U.S. Supreme Court has held that as federal laws "preempt" (or trump) state laws, the federal drug laws control.

Accordingly officials with the Los Angeles Police Department contend that it's their job to help enforce the federal law. On the other hand, the L.A. Council members argue that police raids, at best, send a mixed message about the city's support for the state law passed in 1996 to permit the use of marijuana for prescribed medical purposes.

The L.A. City Council last month placed a yearlong moratorium on permitting new dispensaries in the city while lawyers draw up an ordinance to regulate them. At the time, several members of the council reiterated their support for the state law that allows medical marijuana dispensaries to exist.

On the same day the council passed the moratorium, the DEA raided 10 dispensaries in Los Angeles, with LAPD officers providing logistical support. DEA officials said the timing of the raids was a coincidence and that they were merely enforcing federal law, which continues to prohibit any sale of marijuana.

LAPD said that its view is that some of the city's more than 200 dispensaries are a nuisance to their communities and that some are violating the state law that mandates they not profit on their sales.
However, LAPD official Doan said he did not know why the DEA targeted the dispensaries that it did last month, nor did the LAPD apparently ask before agreeing to help with the raids. "The bottom line is anyone distributing marijuana is in violation of federal law," Pullen said.

Councilwoman Janice Hahn said the LAPD didn't always follow the federal lead. Over the years, the LAPD has ignored federal immigration laws and chosen not to ask people about their immigration status as a way to build a better relationship with the community, she said.

Tagged as: drug crimes defense







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