Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer
Thursday, May 8, 2008
(05-07) 17:40 PDT WASHINGTON -- A congressional leader, citing complaints from Bay Area mayors and lawmakers, wants the Drug Enforcement Administration to explain its increased use of "paramilitary-style enforcement raids" and property forfeiture orders against medical marijuana patients and suppliers in California.
With drug trafficking and violence from international cartels on the rise, "do you think the DEA's limited resources are best utilized conducting enforcement raids on individuals and their caregivers who are conducting themselves legally under California law?" House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., said in a letter to the agency.
He also noted the DEA's recent tactic of sending letters to hundreds of property owners who rent to medical marijuana dispensaries, advising them that they could be prosecuted and lose their property under federal law.
Property forfeitures, Conyers said, have typically been reserved for "the worst drug traffickers and kingpins" and might have the unintended effect of driving medical marijuana distribution underground. Medical marijuana advocacy groups say the letters have led to evictions and closures of dozens of supply shops that had been operating with state and local approval.
The congressman also asked how much the DEA was spending on the raids.http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/05/07/MN7C10IO0L.DTL&tsp=1