Federal authorities targeted medical marijuana businesses from Seattle to Lacey Tuesday as part of an investigation into, court records say, conspiracy to distribute marijuana, money laundering, possession of firearms in connection with drug trafficking.
Court records say the "the targets of the investigation are entities and individuals that pretend to comply with Washington...medical marijuana laws, but in reality are simply fronts for drug dealing, money laundering, or other criminal offenses."
While Washington is one of 16 states where medical marijuana laws is legal, federal search warrants for the investigation note federal drug laws trump state regulations. However, the warrants says, "our investigation is not currently targeting medical marijuana providers that comply with the letter and the spirit of existing state law."
In their investigation into one of the businesses raided yesterday—the Seattle Cannabis Co-op—authorities say they received information from a source "with ties to the 'medical marijuana' community" in August about violations of medical marijuana laws at the co-op's locations in Ballard and south Seattle. The source told authorities the business owners were allegedly selling pot to people without medical cards, bringing pot in from out of state, or selling marijuana in quantities larger than allowed by state law.
Authorities used another undercover informant—who had been arrested in another state with pot, and had ties to the owners of the Cannabis Co-op, court documents say—to make buys at the co-ops, purchasing more than the one-and-a-half pounds or 15 plants medical patients are allowed to possess under state law.
While search warrant records don't reveal much about whether the business was allegedly selling pot to people without prescriptions, it appears the owners of the business were working to made some large-scale pot sales to the informant.
In one incident caught on surveillance by authorities, the informant told one of the owners of the Cannabis Co-Op they wanted to buy 25 pounds of marijuana for $60,000 to take to the Midwest. The Co-Op owner allegedly told the informant "to buy the 'crappy' marijuana because [customers in the Midwest] will think it is great."
Agents later checked on a home associated with one of the owners of the co-op, and found what they believed may be evidence of a grow operation inside. Court records indicate the growers may have been illegally diverting power to the home.
More documents related to the raids should be released later today, and we'll have more info as it becomes available.
The US Attorney's office has not yet filed charges in the raids.