Too soon for complacency in Los Angeles
The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has recently stepped up enforcement against medical cannabis dispensing collectives in the city, and there is reason to believe that this may be the beginning of a new trend. Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is encouraging patients and providers to prepare in advance for a possible confrontation with local police. Taking some simple precautions in advance and knowing what to do during an LAPD raid can preserve your rights and keep you out of serious trouble.
The federal threat to medical cannabis is receding under the Obama Administration, and the White House and US Attorney General have signaled a willingness to create a new federal policy in comments made earlier this year. ASA is working hard to shape that new policy right now. That does not mean medical cannabis patients and providers are in the clear. There have been a handful of DEA raids this year, and local police and Sheriff’s departments may be moving to fill the perceived gap left by diminished federal activity.
The Los Angeles City Attorney and City Council are struggling to create workable regulations for collectives and cooperatives in the city right now. They are also dealing with the legal and public relations fall out from hundreds of facilities that opened under a now-defunct hardship provision in the moratorium on new storefronts adopted in 2007. The continued proliferation of storefronts in Los Angeles has raised the ire of both neighborhood groups and the LAPD. It is not hard to imagine that the LAPD will soon respond to political and media pressure by taking action against collectives and cooperatives they deem to be illegal or problematic. It is unlikely we can trust the department will be discriminating in which facilities they target. Everyone should be ready for an emergency.
ASA offers raid preparedness training for staff and volunteers at medical cannabis collectives and cooperatives. Conducted by experienced ASA staff, this one to two-hour course teaches attendees what to expect in a raid, how to assert their rights to protect themselves and others, and what to do to prepare in advance. You can schedule raid preparedness training for your friends or co-workers by emailing our headquarters at info@AmericansForSafeAccessNow.org or calling toll free (888) 929-4367.
Unfortunately, we can not train every facility in Los Angeles. Please share the information below with your friends or co-workers who are concerned about LAPD raids. Being prepared and knowing what to do is the best way to protect yourself and others. We also hope that you will support ASA in our ongoing efforts to protect and expand patients’ rights – and to finally change federal law.
Be Prepared in Advance
- Establish a relationship with a criminal defense attorney in advance and memorize his or her number. It is important that you have someone standing by to help with bail, bail hearings, or arraignment. ASA does not recommend specific attorneys, but you can find a list online.
- Know your rights! Read ASA’s free online Legal Manual and discuss it with others.
- Make a plan with your friends and co-workers in advance so that everyone knows how to assert his or her rights and what to do to stay safe. ASA raid preparedness training can help accomplish this.
- Organize your support in advance. Collectives and cooperatives should have a phone tree or off-site emergency contact person to alert if there is a raid. You may want to notify your lawyer, employees or volunteers, collective members, etc.
- Organize and operate your collective in accordance with state law. This means carefully screening members, preventing any diversion of medicine, and operating in a not-for-profit fashion Read ASA’s report on guidelines established by the California Attorney General at for more information.
Stay Safe in a Raid
- Never run from the police, hide, or physically resist during a raid. Keep your hands in plain view. Never antagonize or provoke the officers. Police officers will be nervous and afraid when entering an unknown situation. They may respond with force if they perceive you as a threat.
- Show your ID when asked, without answering any additional questions. This will save you the hassle of being detained for identification at the police station. Be aware that the police will check to see if you have any warrants, and arrest you if you do.
- Invoke your constitutional rights by clearly saying, “I choose to remain silent. I wish to speak to an attorney.” Do not answer questions, argue with the police, or be drawn into seemingly harmless conversations. Everything you say can and will be used against you. You have nothing to gain by talking with the police during a raid.
- Know that the police can lie, intimidate, and manipulate you during a raid. Don’t be fooled. ASA raid preparedness training can help you anticipate strategies they will use. Protect yourself by remaining silent at all times. There will be plenty of time to talk to lawyers, co-workers, and the media after the police leave.