One reason why the DOJ hasn’t publicized more raids is that U.S. Attorneys’ offices can’t publicize cases that they’ve had sealed under court order.
“Generally speaking, sealing is by order of the court for law enforcement reasons,” Sweeney told TheDC. “And of course there wouldn’t be any press release if a case is sealed — if there aren’t any public court documents, we couldn’t do press – that’s true for any sealed case, regardless of whether it in involves alleged medical marijuana.”
The increasing use of court orders to seal records strikes some drug reformers as a politicization of the justice system. They point to the fact that the DEA made no arrests in the case of the two labs shut down in Colorado, in the five dispensary raids in Nevada, or in the case of 65-year-old Joy Greenfield, and yet every single case was sealed under court order.
According to Courtney, “If there was a reason to protect an informant, if information was going to be put out that was going to damage the investigation, they would seal it.” When asked if it was unusual to request a court-ordered seal for a case where there were no arrests, a top DOJ official said that “it is not unusual to have cases sealed even if there aren’t related arrests.”
Sweeney told TheDC that the DOJ did not “have any stats” that could contradict or confirm Garrison’s claim that dispensary cases were only sealed in extenuating circumstances under Bush.
In the meantime, the general public is left to wonder what dark horrors inspired the many SWAT-style raids over the last nine months. In the case of the five Nevada dispensaries raided last week, the answer just might be video games. According to dispensary owner James Parsons, DEA and FBI agents “[removed] items like an iPod, Playstation 3, and a Nintendo Wii, but [left] items like pipes, books, financial records, and even items he says will allow him to start growing once again.”