17 freed following arrests at dispensaries

OLYMPIA – The 17 people arrested Tuesday morning at five Thurston County medicinal marijuana dispensaries were released from jail on their personal recognizance Wednesday afternoon.

No charges have been filed against any of the individuals who were arrested at the dispensaries – two in Olympia, two in Lacey and one in Rochester.

Police and prosecutors said Wednesday that just because the suspects were released without a court hearing, that does not necessarily mean that they won’t face criminal charges later.

Jonathan Swartz, an attorney for one of the dispensary employees who was arrested, said outside court Wednesday that he tried to get his client’s property back, but the Thurston County Narcotics Task Force responded that the marijuana is “evidence” in an investigation.

Dispensary employees were arrested Tuesday on suspicion of possession of marijuana with intent to deliver. Tuesday’s busts by the Thurston County Narcotics Task Force occurred at The Olympia Patient Resource Center, 420 Steele St.; The Healing Center, 316 Capitol Way; Cannabis Outreach Services, 5709 Lacey Blvd.; Lacey Cross, 4227 Pacific Ave.; and Triple D’s, 21530 Old Highway 99.

Tuesday’s arrests were the culmination of a five-month investigation by the Thurston County Narcotics Task Force, with assistance from the Drug Enforcement Administration. Thurston County Sheriff’s Lt. Greg Elwin said Tuesday that detectives documented illegal marijuana purchases at each of the five dispensaries.

Elwin said that police did not target medicinal marijuana patients with legitimate “green cards,” because they are legally purchasing marijuana.

Jimmy Hadley, an employee of The Healing Center, stood outside court Wednesday in the rain, talking with others who had been released from jail. He said that he feels bad for sick medicinal marijuana patients who will now be forced to seek marijuana on the black market. He added that all of the local medicinal marijuana patients are banding together and are going to fight any criminal charges, should they come.

“We’re going to fight for our right to be patients,” Hadley said.

Jeremy Pawloski: 360-754-5445

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