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An unusual DEA raid on one of LA’s most reputable medical marijuana dispensaries reveals the bewildering conflict between state and federal drug laws.

When an agent in plain clothes entered the pale green building off Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood, it was early—around 10:30 in the morning on October 23, 2014, not a peak hour for the medical marijuana business. He gave the signal and members of a special task force under the Drug Enforcement Administration stormed the Farmacy’s entrance SWAT-style, some from around the corner and others from an unmarked gray pickup truck parked outside. Across Los Angeles, it was the same story: DEA agents executed federal search warrants against the collective’s Westwood location. As the team seized thousands in cash and cannabis, staff were detained inside, dumbfounded.

There were no arrests, but the message seemed familiar, one the agency has repeatedly conveyed to caregivers around the country by way of enforcement action and official statements: Feds rule, states drool, and marijuana isn’t medicine.

In 1996, California voters passed Proposition 215, a historic measure that called for the legalization of medical marijuana under a state-run regulatory system. It wasn’t the perfect law—a series of amendments have since reshaped the

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