Advisory: Hundreds to Rally in LA, Urge Governor to End Medical Marijuana Raids

Los Angeles, CA -- Hundreds of patients and advocates are expected to rally in front of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Los Angeles office on Thursday, October 11, calling on him to stand up for patients’ rights and defend the state’s medical marijuana law by urging the Bush Administration to end the raids on patients and providers. The rally is being organized by Americans for Safe Access (ASA), a national medical cannabis (marijuana) advocacy organization.
What: Hundreds rally to call on Governor to “Stand Up for Patients’ Rights”
When: Thursday, October 11 at Noon
Where: Los Angeles office of Governor Schwarzenegger, 300 South Spring St.
Who: Statements from Los Angeles City Councilmember and former LAPD officer Dennis Zine, and Orange County Supervisor Chris Norby; as well as the following speakers: medical marijuana patient and U.S. Supreme Court plaintiff Angel Raich; raided dispensary operator and advocate Don Duncan; recently raided edible-producer Michael Martin. ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer will MC the event
Responding to recent federal enforcement of medical marijuana, Los Angeles Councilmember and former police officer Dennis Zine said in a July 2007 letter to Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Administrator Karen Tandy 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.”

Patients and advocates, angered by increased federal attacks on medical marijuana patients and providers, are calling on Governor Schwarzenegger to take action to end interference by the federal government in the state’s medical marijuana law. Paramilitary-style raids by the DEA have become routine since the June 2005 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Gonzales v. Raich, which gave the federal government the discretion to arrest and prosecute patients.

However, this year the DEA has conducted at least 44 separate raids of patients and providers, more than twice that of the prior two years. Illustrating the breadth of these attacks, the DEA has conducted raids in no less than 10 counties across the state and has shut down entire regions of access to medical marijuana. Bringing a new dimension to the federal effort to undermine state law, letters were recently sent to more than 150 landlords in California, threatening asset forfeiture and criminal prosecution if they continued to lease to medical marijuana providers.

By contrast, the state has had its share of success in implementing Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act. After Governor Davis signed SB 420, the Medical Marijuana Program Act (MMPA), into law in 2003, Governor Schwarzenegger allocated more than $1 million to establish a statewide ID card program. In addition, more than 30 California cities and counties have adopted ordinances regulating medical cannabis dispensaries, which are now required to pay sales tax to the State Board of Equalization.

“We cannot continue to effectively implement state law with this level of federal interference,” said ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer. “It is time for the Governor to hold the Bush Administration accountable for its actions and to fend off federal attacks so that we can avert further harm to patients.”

The October 11 rally will culminate weeks of advocacy that resulted in more than 40,000 postcards sent to the Governor, as well as hundreds of phone calls and emails, all urging him to take action to defend patients’ rights. In addition to calling on the Governor to end the federal raids on patients and providers, advocates are seeking a directive from the Governor to local law enforcement discouraging cooperation with federal raids. Advocates are also urging Schwarzenegger to solicit support from Governors of other medical marijuana states in order to ward off federal interference. In August, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson sent a letter to President Bush after the DEA threatened state officials with criminal prosecution if they implemented the state-mandated medical cannabis distribution system.

Further information:
One-pager on escalation of federal attacks:
One-pager on requests of Governor Schwarzenegger:
One-pager on benefits of dispensaries:
August 2007 letter from NM Governor Richardson to President Bush:
Speaker biographies:

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