Are Marijuana Dispensaries Fronts for Criminal Profiteers?

PRO (yes)

US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) spokespersons Ralph W. Partridge, DEA Acting Special Agent in Charge, and Sarah Pullen, Spokeswoman for the DEA Los Angeles office, stated in a Jan. 17, 2007 DEA press release titled "11 Search Warrants Served at Marijuana Distribution Centers" and in a Jan. 19, 2007 article in the Los Angeles Times titled "Medical Marijuana Raids Are Criticized":

Ralph W. Partridge: "Today’s enforcement operations show that these establishments are nothing more than drug trafficking organizations bringing criminal activities to our neighborhoods and drugs near our children and schools."

Sarah Pullen: "A lot of people are involved in some pretty major criminal activity, and they're using state law to traffic in drugs."

Jan. 17, 2007; Jan. 19, 2007 - US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) 

Bruce Mirken, Director of Communications for the Marijuana Policy Project, noted in a June 23, 2005 press release:

"Simply put, if it is true that a few shady characters have gotten into the medical marijuana business, the blame for that situation lies squarely with the federal government.

No one wants to see the spirit of Prop. 215 violated or medical marijuana being used as a cover for activities that do not serve patients."

June 23, 2005 - Bruce Mirken 

CON (no)

The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) stated in a Nov. 1, 2002 report titled "Marijuana: Early Experiences With Four States' Laws That Allow Use for Medical Purposes":

"Officials from over half of the 37 selected federal, state, and local law enforcement organizations we inter-viewed in the fourteen states said that the introduction of medical marijuana laws had not greatly affected their law enforcement activities."

Nov. 1, 2002 - US Government Accountability Office (GAO) 

The Wo/Men's Alliance of Medical Marijuana (WAMM), a patient-run cannabis clinic in Santa Cruz, California, stated on their website (accessed June 23, 2006):

"We are not criminals, we are law abiding citizens who care about community, healing and justice...

Our patients (mostly terminal) and their caregivers share the burden of growing this organic medicine. The medical marijuana is dispersed to all patients, at no charge. Many of our patients live on disability and could not afford the street price for their medicine, nor would it be physically possible or safe for them to 'score' on the street. Many patients are able to lower the amount of the debilitating prescribed narcotics with the proper and careful use of medical marijuana."

June 23, 2006 - Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana (WAMM) 

Ean Vizzi, Esq, attorney for three defendants indicted for running a medical marijuana club that the government has accused of being a front for a criminal enterprise, was quoted in a June 24, 2005 article in the San Francisco Chronicle:

"They [the federal government] are trying to make it a more offensive crime to the people of San Francisco to cover the fact that they're attacking something the people of California overwhelmingly wanted [medical marijuana clubs]."

June 24, 2005 - Ean Vizzi, JD