After cannabis school raid, big turnout expected at S.F. protest
April 01, 2012
John Hoeffel, Los Angeles TimesFive San Francisco supervisors are among the organizers of a march and rally set for Tuesday to call on federal officials to stop interfering with state and local laws for safe access to medical cannabis.
The march to the federal building and rally on the steps of San Francisco's City Hall had already been planned before Monday's raid at the well-known Oaksterdam University, federal action that is likely to fuel a bigger turnout.
Meanwhile, as a crowd of hundreds gathered on the steps of Oakland's City Hall, an email was read from the office of Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley stating that he was "shocked and saddened" by the Oaksterdam raid, particularly given previous federal commitments not to interfere with state medical cannabis laws.
Dan Rush, national director of the Medical Cannabis and Hemp Division of the United Food and Commercial Workers -- which represents medical cannabis employees -- said four members were detained and questioned by federal agents Monday morning. They have all been released, and Rush said he'd not had a chance to talk to them about the nature of the questioning.
"We've seen hundreds of people out here today, shocked and horrified," Rush said on the steps of City Hall. "The community needs to gather here and say 'We're not going to take this anymore. You're messing with caregivers who are helping sick and dying people.' Our union has nothing to do with criminals and cartels, but we're here to represent decent, hardworking union members."
Meanwhile, witnesses said federal agents detained a man in front of a 17th Street dispensary run by Richard Lee, whose pot trade school and other properties were raided earlier in the day. The agents allegedly took the man away in an unmarked vehicle after a pushing match.
DEA officials confirmed that four people were briefly detained but said that is part of standard protocol whenever agents encounter employees while serving a search warrant. The four were detained during the search, asked basic identifying information, then released, said DEA special agent Joycelyn Barnes.
Some medical marijuana activists were puzzling over the federal raid on one of the nation's most prominent pot legalization advocates. And some critics said the federal government may have overreached by targeting Lee.
Lee used his marijuana earnings to put a legalization measure on the California ballot in 2010 that, although it failed, is widely credited with raising the issue's profile and increasing public acceptance of the idea nationwide.
"For them to go after someone who's as high profile as Richard Lee likely sends a message that they will go after anyone anywhere in the state over medical marijuana and that Obama's promises are hollow," said Joe Elford, chief counsel for Americans for Safe Access.