Medical Marijuana Activists to Protest DEA Raids in Los Angeles

February 04, 2009
Los Angeles, CA -- A spirited mass protest at the Los Angeles federal building tomorrow at noon will call on President Barack Obama and his newly seated Attorney General Eric Holder to end federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) raids on medical marijuana patients and providers. Several DEA raids have occurred since President Obama took office, the latest of which occurred yesterday in Los Angeles. Whether or not the raids are being led by Bush Administration officials, medical marijuana activists are urging an immediate end to such policies. Also, a recent poll by Zogby International indicated that 72% of U.S. citizens want President Obama to end medical marijuana raids by the DEA.
What: Spirited protests urging President Obama to keep his campaign promise to end federal medical marijuana raids
When: Thursday, February 5 at Noon
Where: Los Angeles federal building at 255 E. Temple Street
Despite public statements to end federal raids in California and other medical marijuana states by then-Senator Obama during his campaign for president, outdated Bush Administration policy continues to be enforced. On January 22, federal agents raided a medical marijuana dispensary in South Lake Tahoe, followed by multiple DEA raids yesterday in Los Angeles. The raids in Los Angeles occurred even as the City Council there is deliberating an ordinance regulating medical marijuana facilities. "It is long past time for the federal government to stop interfering in the implementation of California's medical marijuana law," said Don Duncan, California Campaign Director with Americans for Safe Access, the advocacy organization calling for the protests. "President Obama should quickly end these harmful enforcement tactics and live up to his campaign promises."

Los Angeles City Council member Dennis Zine previously stated in a letter to the DEA that, "Voters in California and in Los Angeles support the medical use of cannabis and want safe, well-regulated access. Medical cannabis facilities are a community based response to the need for safe access and represent the State of California's effort to fully implement California’s medical cannabis law." Council member Zine, a Republican and former LAPD officer, has been leading the effort to establish local laws, in accordance with recent guidelines issued by California Attorney General Jerry Brown, which recognize the legality of medical marijuana dispensaries under state law.

Over the past two years, the DEA has disproportionately targeted medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles, raiding dozens of the facilities in an attempt to undermine their effectiveness. In the summer of 2007, the DEA went further and began threatening landlords with federal prosecution if they continued leasing to dispensary operators. These federal actions against state-sanctioned medical marijuana distribution are not only harmful to patients that rely on these facilities, but also impact the state's flagging budget. Advocates estimate that in 2007, sales tax revenue collected from approximately 400 dispensaries across California totaled at least $100 million.

Further information:
One of President Obama's public statements on federal raids: http://www.mailtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080323/NEWS/803230336
Council member Dennis Zine's letter to DEA: http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/Zine_DEA_Letter.pdf
Fact sheet on DEA escalation of tactics: http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/dea_escalation.pdf

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