SJ Medical Marijuana Advocates Call For End To Police Raids

November 08, 2010

, KTVU News

San Jose resident Michael Gammino takes medical marijuana for insomnia and arthritis in his knees, but Tuesday he said he's considering buying the drug on the streets for fear that getting it from dispensaries will land him in trouble with law enforcement.

Gammino was among a crowd of about 60 patients and advocates who came to the City Council meeting Tuesday afternoon to appeal to Mayor Chuck Reed and council members to step in and put an end to the recent raids on medical marijuana dispensaries carried out by the Santa Clara County Specialized Enforcement Team, a local multi-agency police force.

"We've gone so far and now to take it away like this," Gammino said. "I don't want to break the law... so what's my alternative? I have to break the law."

About 15 people addressed the council to express their disapproval of the citywide raids over the past month, some claiming that police have been using aggressive force in an effort to close state law-compliant facilities in the city.

Last week, San Jose voters passed Measure U, a marijuana business tax that will impose up to a 10 percent tax on medical marijuana facilities, with the revenue used to fund city services.

Lauren Payne, a legal coordinator for the Silicon Valley chapter of Americans for Safe Access, a national organization that works to ensure safe and legal access to medical cannabis and protect patients' rights, called for regulation by the city.

"It's unacceptable to send in men with guns into an industry that has pending regulations," Payne said. "It's unacceptable to force a civil violation with criminal sanctions."

She said the organization is preparing the medical marijuana community for future raids and planning to work with the City Council and Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors to implement regulations.

The City Council will next address medical marijuana issues at a meeting in December.

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