Medical marijuana lab raid by the DEA? Turns out the lab was (literally) asking for it

Tension between medical-marijuana businesses and the feds ratcheted up two weeks ago when Drug Enforcement Administration agents rolled through Full Spectrum Laboratories, a Denver marijuana testing facility, seizing all pot samples they could find -- all while the lab's owners were at the Capitol testifying against a medical-marijuana bill.

Betty Aldworth, Full Spectrum's director of outreach, said they were caught off guard by the raid since they'd gone out of their way to be on the up-and-up, even formally applying for an analytical lab licensure through the DEA.

"We didn't need to do that, but we thought it was the right thing to do," she said at the time.

Turns out it wasn't the right thing to do -- since it apparently led DEA agents right to their door.

Along with investigating narcotics-related crimes, the DEA also regulates the pharmaceutical industry and businesses that dispense controlled substances, explains DEA special agent Mike Turner. "If a business applies for DEA registration, we have to conduct a site survey," he says. "If we do that and we see controlled substances in violation of federal law, we are not going to turn our back on that."

Full Spectrum's DEA license application? That doesn't look too good. As Turner puts it, "If, during the inspection of a location, the business is found to be violating federal law, I wouldn't think that would be in their favor."

The moral of this story? While your underlying intentions may be good, it's not a good idea to invite the DEA to come check out your stash.

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Joel Warner is a former staff writer for Westword and International Business Times. He's also written for WIRED, Men's Journal, Men's Health, Bloomberg Businessweek, Popular Science, Slate, Grantland and many other publications. He's co-author of the 2014 book The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny, published by Simon & Schuster.
Contact: Joel Warner