The drug store’s stereo system filled the store with a mix of top 40. Behind the counter, lab coats busily shifted back and forth as they filled orders. I, prescription in hand, counted the variety of lozenges for sale and slowly drifted to sleep in line.

“Next, please.” The clerk’s voice roused me and I stepped forward.

“My doctor said I need pills,” I said, handing her the prescription. “Pain pills.” She nodded and turned to fill the order. Then, out of nowhere, a shout:

“Nobody move!” A dozen Drug Enforcement Agents crashed into the store, trampling innocent customers and seizing merchandise, shouting some nonsense about illegal activity. What was so illegal about filling my doctor-signed prescription?

I felt the same terror that grips medical marijuana patients around the country when the DEA raids their local dispensary. Agents come in, guns raised (to keep the drug addicts at a safe distance, I assume,) and make arrests. People who are normally law-abiding citizens under their states’ laws are cuffed and made into felons.

Felons who care. Dispensary owners and employees provide a service to patients in need. These patients who can’t or won’t use pharmaceuticals are being punished because… Well, we’re not quite sure why, still. The unfortunate fact remains that medical marijuana is still illegal in the eyes of the federal government. State governments continue to use their rights to pass laws which, sadly, conflict with the federal law.

So, the Feds continue to pour money into the Drug Enforcement Agency, and legal establishments get raided and shut down. Arresting officers say they shut down dispensaries which “pervert [the] law just to sell drugs.” I’m confused: Doesn’t the pharmacy, where I buy my pain pills, just sell drugs? (They sell candy, too, but then so does the dispensary. And their candy is medicine.)

I don’t get it. What’s the difference between the dispensary and the pharmacy? Sure, I get it, cannabis is a Schedule I narcotic and a popular recreational drug. You know what else is a popular recreational drug? Vicodin. And just like pot, you don’t need a prescription to get it (if you don’t mind breaking the law a bit.) If dispensaries have to be non-profit, so should pharmacies.

California gets a lot of attention for victims of these injustices. Dispensaries seem to get raided every other day out there. But then, their bill (California SB 420) was passed in 2003, so the DEA has had more time to bust legal dispensaries. Colorado has seen its fair share, too; and, if California is any indication, there are only more to come.

Boulder’s own “Dr. Reefer”, Pierre Werner, saw the effects of these raids recently, after moving his business to Nevada. Says Werner:

“They didn’t just hit me, they hit eight other places. No one has heard anything about what’s happening. I wish I had stayed in Colorado.”

As the DEA raids more and more legal dispensaries, medical marijuana patients are having their access to necessary medicine restricted. Isn’t it time for Washington to step in and let patients receive the care they need?