DEA: Any "Individual" or Group Growing or Distributing Pot for "Recreational Use" Can be Target of Investigation

Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Phoenix and help keep the future of New Times free.

The Drug Enforcement Agency wants to make it clear that it's not just going after kingpins.

Any "individual" or organization involved in growing or distributing pot for recreational use can be a target of an investigation, the DEA warns through a U.S. Department of Justice spokeswoman.

As we mentioned on Tuesday, the DEA blew us off -- and therefore, you, dear readers -- when we sought information last week about the raid of a Tempe cannabis club. We had questions about the political ramifications of the raid, including why the DEA seems to be enforcing Arizona law in this case. The state Attorney General, Tom Horne, has asked the court system to rule on whether cannabis clubs are legal or not under the 2010 Medical Marijuana Act, but it appears the DEA -- a biased agency that uses taxpayer funds to advertise against pot legalization -- couldn't wait to bust one.

Yesterday, U.S. Department of Justice spokeswoman Laura Sweeney finally got back to us -- with a strong message for Arizonans bent on supplying "recreational" users with weed.

Here's what Sweeney said:

"While I'm not going to comment on any particular pending matters, in general, consistent with the Department guidance, DEA continues to identify and investigate any criminal organization or individual who unlawfully grows, markets or distributes marijuana or other dangerous drugs for recreational use.

"As always, the Department is committed to enforcing the federal Controlled Substances Act in all states, and will focus its resources on significant drug traffickers, not individuals with serious illness or their immediate caregivers who are in compliance with applicable state medical marijuana statutes."

By that rationale, the DEA must believe that James Chaney, the owner of the Arizona Go Green Compassion Club arrested last Thursday, is a "significant drug trafficker." True, Chaney is accused of possessing 50 pounds of marijuana at his home and another 10 to 20 at the Tempe business, and that's a lot of dope. Perhaps even, arguably, a "significant" amount.

But Chaney, whatever his shortcomings, (the DEA also says Chaney had an active arrest warrant on a meth charge), there seems to be no argument that he was selling his marijuana to state-approved patients.

Theoretically, Arizona voters wanted those patients to have marijuana. So this is more complicated than the average pot-dealer bust.

Horne, not the federal government, is prosecuting Chaney -- meaning that the state's medical pot law must be considered.

Even if Chaney didn't follow the new state law precisely -- and that'll be determined in the court system, obviously -- the public should keep in mind that the DEA isn't just a public safety agency.

It's a lobbying group.

Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.