Medical Marijuana Patients and Advocates Protest Tuesday in SLO

January 09, 2011

, Salem-News.com

Patients and medical marijuana advocates are planning a lively protest outside of the San Luis Obispo (SLO) County Courthouse Tuesday to draw attention to the aggressive raids and arrests that took place the week over the last week in December.

A Press Conference will also be held Tuesday, at approximately 8:00 or 8:15 a.m. in front of San Luis Obispo County Superior Court, 1050 Monterey St., San Luis Obispo.

Speakers include: collective members; affected patients; citizen supporters; Charles C. Lynch, a Morro Bay dispensary operator who was raided by the DEA in 2007; and Matthew Witemyre, United Food & Commercial Workers Union Local #5, Cannabis Industry Coordinator.

Background

A Narcotics Task Force (NTF) made up of local and state law enforcement agencies raided at least 7 collectively-run medical marijuana collectives which provide delivery services, arresting at least 15 people on felony charges and holding them on bails as high as $100,000.

Several of those arrested were charged with child endangerment, after Child Protective Services (CPS) removed at least 6 children from the homes of 3 different families. The protest scheduled for Tuesday, January 11th beginning at 7:30 a.m. will be followed by arraignments for some of the arrested delivery service operators.

Those arrested in the raids reported that the police kept some people handcuffed face-down on the ground, including a grandmother and two children, who were later hauled off by CPS after their parents were taken to jail.

In addition to seizing medical marijuana, money, and other property, police have also frozen some bank accounts. Undercover police also reportedly used legitimate and verifiable physician recommendations to deceptively obtain medical marijuana from these targeted collectives.

"It's wasteful to spend taxpayer dollars to conduct SWAT-style raids on state law-compliant collectives," said Kris Hermes, media spokesperson with Americans for Safe Access, the country's leading medical marijuana advocacy organization.

"But, it's a greater tragedy that local officials would resort to such aggressive tactics like taking people's children away because they don't agree with the state's medical marijuana law."

Linda Hill of the San Luis Obispo Chapter of ASA said, “Patients and providers of medicinal cannabis here on the Central Coast who are being compliant with state law have been targeted for years by our criminal justice system. These recent local raids, however, reached new levels in their aggressiveness and the resulting traumas.

"It is imperative that our local agencies and governmental bodies finally adopt a more reasonable policy towards those people who are involved in our state’s 14-year-old medical cannabis program.

"Patients who use and are helped by medical marijuana already have pain and suffering from their conditions; the ongoing threat of arrest only generates further stress to these many members of our community.”

Coordinated police raids on medical marijuana collectives with home delivery services occurred earlier in the year in the San Jose area, based on an interpretation of state law similarly held by local SLO law enforcement agencies, namely that everyone in a collective must participate in the cultivation and no money can exchange hands in the procurement of medical marijuana.

"Now that we have stopped police from hiding behind federal law, hostile officials are stooping to flawed interpretations of state law and heavy-handed tactics to further undermine the effort of getting medicine to sick people," continued Hermes.



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