The shelves at the Bayside Collective off of Madrona Beach Road were picked clean of marijuana Wednesday after agents with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration raided the medical marijuana dispensary with guns drawn about 11 a.m.
Federal agents raided a number of medical marijuana collectives in the Puget Sound region Wednesday, with the majority of the law enforcement activity taking place in King and Pierce Counties, according to local dispensary employees.
The raid at the Bayside Collective was the only one in Thurston County, according to an informal poll of local dispensary owners. Seattle DEA spokeswoman Jodie Underwood could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.
Washington state legalized adult possession of up to an ounce of marijuana last fall. And Washington has a law that makes it legal for certain establishments - marijuana "collectives" - to provide marijuana to medical marijuana patients as long as they meet certain criteria.
However, marijuana remains illegal under federal law. The Washington State Liquor Control Board is currently working on setting up rules for the distribution of state-authorized recreational marijuana.
Casey Lee, an employee at the Bayside Collective, said DEA agents served him with a search warrant and seized about "11 or 12 plants Wednesday morning. They also took marijuana in jars that is set aside for patients. He said the seized marijuana totaled about a quarter pound. The DEA agents seized his and another employee's cell phone, Lee added.
Fellow Bayside Collective employee Addy Norton said she was "terrified" during the raid, and DEA agents pointed guns in her face as they entered the building.
"I don't think we're doing anything wrong here," Lee said. "This is really disturbing. We just opened last month."
DEA agents did not make any arrests during the raid, Lee said. They also left his computers alone, he said.
"They said we are being federally subpoenaed," he said.
Lee said he does everything he can to comply with state laws that allow the distribution of medical marijuana to patients with medical marijuana authorization cards. He added that he is not making huge profits by selling medical marijuana to patients. "We're late on our rent," he said. "We haven't even paid ourselves since we opened."
Meanwhile, in downtown Olympia, The Healing Center and Rainier Express, two other medical marijuana collectives, were closed on Wednesday afternoon.
Urban Medicinals, another medical marijuana collective in downtown Olympia on Legion Way, was open. Its owner, Louis Johnson, said he was aware of the DEA raids across the Puget Sound region.
Johnson said it was his understanding that some Thurston County medical marijuana collectives had closed Wednesday after they heard of the raids. However, Johnson pointed out that even if a medical marijuana collective was closed, DEA agents with a search warrant could still bust the door down.
Johnson said he was not nervous about being raided because he is in compliance with the state's laws. "We follow the RCWs to the best of our abilities," Johnson said. "We can't stop them from coming in whenever they want to come in."
Urban Medicinals has been open on Legion Way for about 18 months, Johnson said.
"I'm not afraid," he said.
The Thurston County Narcotics Task Force did not participate in medical marijuana dispensary raids in Thurston County Wednesday, task force detective Sgt. John Didion said.
Jeremy Pawloski: 360-754-5445 email@example.com