The latest marijuana dispensary: San Francisco City Hall

January 09, 2006

Justin Jouvenal, The Examiner (CA)

It’s already easier to find a medical marijuana club than a McDonald’s in San Francisco, but activists have their sights set on opening one more dispensary — however briefly — at one of The City’s most famous buildings: City Hall.

In a high-profile nose-thumbing of federal drug enforcement officials, activists will hand out medical marijuana to a group of sick patients on the steps of City Hall at noon today. The bold protest is a response to the Drug Enforcement Agency raid on Dec. 20 of the home of Catherine and Steve Smith, who run HopeNet, a well-known medical marijuana club in the South of Market area. Agents nearly raided HopeNet as well, but turned away after a group of protesters surrounded their cars.

“Basically, the giveaway is a response to the raid — to show that city officials and community is behind us,” said Catherine Smith, who runs the club with her husband. “We want the DEA to stay out of the medical marijuana business.”

So far, Smith said neither she nor her husband have been charged with any crime, even though DEA agents carted off more than 120 pot plants from their house.

The protest follows a ceremony, where representatives from Mayor Gavin Newsom’s office, Supervisors Ross Mirkarimi and Chris Daly, and other politicians hand out certificates of appreciation to the Smiths for their medical marijuana work.

“HopeNet has been one of the most generous in giving away medical marijuana to low-income patients,” said Hilary McQuie, a spokeswoman for medical marijuana rights group Americans for Safe Access.

The protest is modeled on a similar one in 2002 at the Santa Cruz City Hall. It followed the raid of Women’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana, a medical marijuana club in Santa Cruz.

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