Most of the raided collectives claimed they would reopen. As soon as the feds left, the California Patients Group, which operates out of a storefront on Santa Monica Boulevard near Vine Street, tacked up a handwritten sign in its window that read, “Closed Today. Will Be Open Tomorrow.” Several others announced they will reopen “soon.”
“It’s so maddening,” says attorney Kroeger, who — along with Zine and representatives of city agencies including the LAPD and the Department of Building and Safety — is part of a working group hammering out the city ordinance still to come. “Here we are doing everything to regulate this, and the DEA goes knocking down the doors of a lot of people who may get evicted anyway.”
The DEA began ramping up the Los Angeles crackdown in January, when the feds raided 11 collectives in one day — five in West Hollywood, the other six in Venice, Hollywood, Sherman Oaks and Woodland Hills. Eight reopened in less than a week, and within a month, several new collectives had sprung up, mushroomlike, to replace the three that closed.
The July raids coincided with a vote in Congress on the Hinchey-Rohrabacher Amendment, which proposed to kill funding now used for similar DEA enforcement actions in the 12 states where medicinal marijuana is legal. The House bill was defeated, but its strange-bedfellow authors — New York liberal Democrat Maurice Hinchey and ultraconservative Huntington Beach Republican Dana Rohrabacher — illustrate the party-crossing sentiment against the DEA’s tactics.
More anti-enforcement attitude was seen earlier this month in Orange County, where the all-Republican county Board of Supervisors voted to regulate the sale of medical marijuana.
Meanwhile, in L.A. the war goes on. “Look, we’re here to uphold the law,” says the DEA’s Pullen. “And we can’t really pick and choose which laws.”
At the collectives, the jitters continue. “We’re hanging in,” says one L.A.-based collective owner who declined to be named. “But we’re getting tired. That’s how it is for a lot of people I know, they’re scared and tired.” And on Monday, July 30, the California Patients Group, which had vowed to stay open, announced that it too was closing “as a result of the economic and legal hardship resulting from this week’s DEA raid and threats made against our landlord.”?