Authorities from the Drug Enforcement Administration and the FBI raided medical marijuana shops Monday including here in Billings. An advocacy group, Americans for Safe Access, claims at least 12 raids were carried out in at least six cities.
About eight people were in handcuffs outside “Montana cannabis” near Helena, while the site was searched. A spokeswoman at the U.S. attorney’s office in Montana said the federal agents executed search warrants that are under seal.
However, the advocacy group said law enforcement was able to seize items such as plants, growing materials, cell phones, firearms, and business records.
The feds haven’t released a list of all of the Montana shops that were raided. However, local caregiver Mark Higgins said he wasn’t surprised to hear of the searches and seizures.
Higgins said he knows there are shops that do not operate according to the law. He said that hurts the industry. Higgins said you have to follow the strict state rules since medical marijuana is still classified as an illegal substance under federal law.
“It’s really nerve racking and it’s not just now because of the raids, its been nerve racking every day since I opened my store,” said Higgins.
Big Sky Patient Care in Bozeman was raided around 11 a.m. Monday morning. We spoke with owner Mark Sigler over the phone from Bozeman.
“They showed us the search warrant, we got there probably 30 minutes into it, they took everybody’s name and released them,” Sigler said.,
It’s unclear exactly where the raids were executed Monday and if anymore are to come.
In October 2009, the Obama administration ordered federal prosecutors to stop going after authorized marijuana sellers and users, if they abide by state laws that legalize the drug for medical use. However, it did leave room for prosecutors to go after those with excessive profits, who among other things commit violent acts, and who sell to minors.
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