Medical Marijuana Supporters Demand Meeting with DEA Nominee

May 16, 2003
WASHINGTON, DC -- Medical marijuana advocates demand to know the views of President Bush’s expected nominee for head of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Karen Tandy. Besides being the first woman to be named as head of the DEA, she recently made national news for her role in masterminding the investigation known as Operation Pipe Dreams – which resulted in the indictment of 50 individuals and businesses that sell or manufacture water pipes and other devices that could be used to consume marijuana. Advocates sent a request to Karen P. Tandy’s office for a meeting to discuss her views. They argue that Tandy’s confirmation hearings should include the nationally debated issue of medical marijuana. Recent polls show that as many as 80% of Americans support medical marijuana, and eight states have passed effective laws condoning its use. Despite growing approval of medical marijuana, the Drug Enforcement Administration has continued its crusade against people who use and provide medical marijuana in states with laws permitting its use. “Karen Tandy should be expected to stop the arrests of medical marijuana patients and their caregivers. This is an opportunity for the DEA to change their priorities and stop these attacks,” said Steph Sherer, Executive Director of Americans for Safe Access. Defendants in federal medical marijuana cases, whether they were following state law or not, lack recourse in court. Currently, federal court regulation does not allow any mention of medical marijuana state law or a defendant’s compliance with it. If H.R. 1717, the Truth in Trials Act, should pass in Congress, patients and caregivers would be allowed to present evidence that they were acting in compliance with state law. Until then, they are heavily reliant on the DEA changing their policy on prosecution of medical marijuana cases to keep them out of prison. “President Bush is expected to formally appoint Tandy as the new DEA Administrator in the coming months and we’re all hoping that the DEA will take this opportunity to come up with a more sane policy on medical marijuana,” said Hilary McQuie, political campaign organizer for Americans for Safe Access. ###

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