Federal agents conducted 26 raids on medical marijuana facilities in 13 Montana cities this week, reports USA Today. Agents seized thousands of marijuana plants and froze $4 million in bank funds. The raids surprised medical marijuana advocates, many of whom believed the Obama administration’s policy was to leave states with medical marijuana laws alone. Attorney General Eric Holder said in 2009 that the pursuit of “individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance” with existing state medical marijuana laws would be the lowest priority of U.S. law enforcement.
“I think most everybody believed the directive from the Justice Department was that no priority would be given to utilizing Justice Department resources in going after medical marijuana operations if local authorities believed they were operating legally under state law,” said Ethan Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance. Montana U.S. Attorney Michael Cotter said there was “probable cause that the premises were involved in illegal and large-scale trafficking of marijuana. When criminal networks violate federal laws, those involved will be prosecuted.”