DEA Levels Felony Drug Manufacture Charges Against A Legal Cannabis Oil Maker–Raises Questions About A Legal Gray Area
As states like Colorado, Washington and California sort out the growing pains of marijuana legalization there have been numerous conflicts with law enforcement at all levels, clinging as they do to their outdated Just Say No and Zero Tolerance mindset. A few years back it took President Obama himself telling the DEA to back off from its raids on legal pot shops to get them to cut it out–and even then they defied him and kept it up for some time after.
Well now the forces of control and dim-witted brute force have once again reared their ugly heads, as reports are coming in of a raid in California on a legal producer of cannabis oil by the DEA and local law enforcement.
The raid, in which nine people were detained and one arrested at Care By Design, a company that manufactures cannabis oil containing five different levels of THC, as well as sprays, gels and cannabis cartridges for vaporizers, claimed to be focused on “felony drug manufacture.”
One glaring problem–aside from the small-minded thinking of law enforcement types at the DEA–is that the rules are not at all clear. Medical marijuana has been legal in California since voters approved it 20 years ago. But it was only last year that the legislature moved to craft a set of state-wide regulations for the rapidly growing industry.
And those rules won’t actually be in place until 2018, meaning that medical marijuana businesses are forced to conduct their business under a legally nebulous cloud where, as California NORML put it in an email alert about the raids, “there’s plenty of gray area to generate busts between now and then.”
And we know law enforcement is in the business of “generating busts.”
Santa Rosa Police spokesman Lt. Mike Lazzarini said that a hundred Santa Rosa police, Sonoma County sheriff’s deputies, and DEA agents raided the CBD operations because they were suspected of using illegal and hazardous production methods. This claim stems from the manufacturers supposedly producing the oil by using butane, which is a fire and explosion hazard, and illegal under state law.
Ah. Of course. They sent a hundred cops to raid a cannabis manufacturer because…butane. Sure.
For their part, the Care By Design collective denied all the allegations.
“Contrary to initial press reports, none of the Care By Design facilities are involved in the production of hash; nor is butane used in the company’s extraction process,” it said in a statement. “Care By Design utilizes a non-volatile supercritical CO2 extraction method, and does not produce any hash, rosin, wax, shatter or similar products that are popular amongst recreational users.”
Interestingly, in their intrepid search for illegal butane, the police and DEA saw fit to seize computers, payroll information and financial paperwork.
Here’s hoping the California legislature can step up and put some stopgap measures in place in the interim period before the new regulations go into effect. Reining in dogmatic, overzealous cops is the first step to a sane approach to marijuana in our society.