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Feds Raid Las Vegas Dispensary - Trying To Make Sense Of It All

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EDITORIAL: Making a scene

•Editorial from Las Vegas regarding recent raids at dispensaries by FED agents.



Is the goal by the feds here to criminalize but instead to disrupts?

Not a lot of details are available about a series of raids in which local Metro police cooperated with federal drug agents (gets around so many pesky questions concerning federal jurisdiction, you see) to serve warrants on medical marijuana clinics in and around Las Vegas this week.


The reason not a lot of details are available? "No arrests were made today in connection with these warrants, and the warrants and supporting affidavits are sealed; thus, no additional information can be provided at this time," announced U.S. attorney's office spokeswoman Natalie Collins.




So: Go back to federal court and ask the judge to unseal them.


Nevada voters, like California's, have repeatedly ruled they want legitimate users of medical marijuana to be left in peace.


If the federal government has evidence there are serious drug criminals operating in our midst, merely claiming to be doing no more than helping legitimate medical patients find access to the plant, the public should be told.


Otherwise -- because such raids continue here, while the Obama administration has ordered the narcs to lay off California's far more active and blatant cannabis dispensaries -- it's hard not to wonder if this isn't merely another administration effort to "save government jobs," in this case the jobs of federal narcs with too much time on their hands.


It's certainly no stretch of the imagination to figure authorities know such well-publicized raids will have a chilling effect on legitimate medical patients. "If I even make inquiries, the DEA is going to get a warrant, seize a list containing my name, and investigate me? No thanks, I'll stick with the more toxic, expensive and debilitating drugs I already use."


Agents and police wearing ski masks to make them look more frightening, closing off parking lots with yellow police tape and banging on doors? When authorities admit no one was arrested? Isn't that just a little over the top?


Seems as though a pair of uniformed officers could have calmly knocked at the door of each location, presented their warrants, and calmly collected whatever evidence the courts have authorized them to seek, without creating much disruption.


Or was "disruption" what this was really all about?


Michael A. Komorn

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  • 3 months later...


Several people accused of illegally operating medical marijuana dispensaries were released by a federal judge Friday, but activist Pierre Werner must scrape up $100,000 in cash or property to get himself out of jail.


Werner, 39, of Las Vegas appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Lawrence Leavitt a day after his arrest. The defendant was one of 14 people, including his mother and brother, arrested Thursday in connection with marijuana sales at dispensaries.


Federal prosecutors argued that Werner, who has prior felony drug convictions, should be detained pending trial.


"Despite all these convictions, he's still engaged in the illegal distribution of marijuana," Assistant U.S. Attorney Bradley Giles said.


As a career offender, the prosecutor added, Werner "is looking at a significant sentence in this case."


Outside the Lloyd George U.S. Courthouse a handful of people protested throughout the day Friday. They displayed signs with messages such as "Marijuana Is Medicine" and "End the Raids."


This week's arrests followed the September raids of several Las Vegas dispensaries, including Dr. Reefer, a business operated by Werner's mother, Reynalda Barnett, and brother, Clyde Barnett, at 8975 S. Pecos Road. Clark County suspended Dr. Reefer's business license in November.


Storefront marijuana dispensaries are not recognized under Nevada's Medical Marijuana Act, the U.S. attorney's office has said, and it is illegal to sell medical marijuana in Nevada. Medical marijuana patients and caregivers in the state must grow their own.


In court on Friday, Werner was wearing a red "Dr Reefer" T-shirt in the design of a Dr Pepper logo -- a fact not lost on Giles.


"I'm just looking at his shirt right here in court today," the prosecutor told Leavitt.


Giles said the shirt contradicts Werner's lawyer, Conrad Claus, who said Dr. Reefer's business plan was established in a way that kept Werner out of daily operations.


Claus said Werner has been an outspoken advocate for the legalization of marijuana, which he considers an important issue of public health and personal freedom.


The defense lawyer accused the government of trying to lock Werner up and stifle his ability to speak to the news media about the issue.


Leavitt agreed to release Werner on a $100,000 secured bond, meaning the defendant must post that amount in cash or property. If released, Werner must stay in Nevada. He also must refrain from using marijuana or having involvement in marijuana dispensaries while awaiting trial.


The judge released both Reynalda Barnett, 59, and Clyde Barnett, 21, without requiring a bond, but he ordered both defendants to refrain from using marijuana or having involvement with marijuana dispensaries.


All three defendants must submit to drug testing while under pretrial supervision.


Claus said Werner does not have the resources to get out on bond, but he may be able to raise the money from relatives.


The defense lawyer said Dr. Reefer was established as a referral business, and Werner denies having knowledge of any specific sales.



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