In Washington, Violence Prompts Debate Over Medical Marijuana
Posted Mar 18 2010 11:26am
A couple of high-profile episodes of violence against medical marijuana growers in Washington state has helped stir law enforcement officials and marijuana advocates to call for increased protection for growers and consumers.
Police officers don’t seem to be overly concerned with protecting marijuana growers, and marijuana growers probably aren’t particularly inclined to trust them in the first place. There’s fault on both sides. Of course, legalizing and regulating marijuana for recreational use might help curb violence, but I don’t think Washington is quite there yet.
SEATTLE A shooting and a beating death linked to medical marijuana have prompted new calls by law enforcement officials and marijuana advocates for Washington State to change how it regulates the drug and protects those who grow and use it.
In the past week, a man in Orting, Wash., near Tacoma, died after he reportedly was beaten while confronting people trying to steal marijuana plants from his property. On Monday, a prominent medical-marijuana activist shot an armed man who is accused of breaking into his home in a suburban area near Seattle where he grows and distributes marijuana plants.
On Tuesday, the police arrested five people on robbery charges in connection with the shooting incident. One of those arrested is in critical condition after being shot by Steve Sarich, who runs a group called CannaCare out of his house. Mr. Sarich suffered minor wounds from a shotgun blast fired by the intruder he shot.
The crimes are the most violent that advocates and law enforcement officials said they could recall involving medical marijuana in Washington. In both cases, they said, the victims appear to have been chosen because they were known to have relatively large amounts of marijuana in their homes. They say the crimes underscore conflicts in state policy that have become evident since Washington legalized medical marijuana in 1998.