Pot activists want DEA out of Oakland building

February 18, 2003

By Colin Atagi - Oakland Tribune,

OAKLAND -- The fight for access to medical marijuana continued Tuesday across the nation and in downtown Oakland, as demonstrators demanded the eviction of the Drug Enforcement Administration from the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building. Members of Americans for Safe Access (ASA) and medical marijuana supporters protested government actions preventing patients from using marijuana to treat illnesses. Protesters gathered from noon to 1 p.m. outside the building waiting for the DEA to respond. Fake eviction notices from the protesters were posted on the building's front doors. "The government is overreaching something that is supported by 80 percent of Americans," said Hilary McQuie, ASA campaign coordinator. "I think it's incomprehensible ... what kind of priorities are these?" Guards would not allow protesters or reporters inside the building and the DEA did not issue any statement about the protest. Although California and local laws permit medicinal use, federal law still bans any and all cultivation, possession and use of marijuana. ASA representatives held rallies in 40 cities around the nation Tuesday in honor of Medical Marijuana Week. "The DEA has been attacking medical marijuana use ... trying to keep people from getting their medicine," said protester Don Konechy. "The DEA needs to stop busting patients." Protesters, dressed up as furniture movers and using a makeshift desk and boxed supplies, pretended to evict Assistant U.S. Attorney George Bevan. Bevan, who recently prosecuted medical marijuana supplier Ed Rosenthal of Oakland, has prosecuted medical marijuana cases "without showing remorse," Konechy said. Medical marijuana supporters sent cease-and-desist orders to the DEA office last year, but received no acknowledgment. Charles Stevens, 70, of Berkeley said he has needed marijuana treatment since he was age 12. He said he will need to purchase it illegally if he is denied legal treatment. "I'll just have to buy it undercover," he said. "They can't arrest me without arresting everyone else. The feds should do the right thing." Angel McClary of Oakland has filed a civil lawsuit against the DEA and U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, requesting an injunction so marijuana can be grown and used for medicinal purposes without being confiscated by the government. "I feel strongly that I'm not a criminal," McClary said. "I'm very angry my government would come and try to take my life from me when my doctor says I need it." McClary says she suffers from an inoperable brain tumor, a life-threatening wasting syndrome, a seizure disorder and several chronic pain conditions. She said she could lose a pound a day if she is not treated with cannabis. "I could die," she said.

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