Feds Grab Medical Marijuana Patients from California State Courtroom

SACRAMENTO - On Tuesday, in a stunning display of duplicitous double dealing, federal agents seized two medical marijuana patients from a California state courtroom after the local prosecutor lured the couple’s defense counsel into the judge’s chambers by moving to dismiss the state charges. The couple now face federal charges mandating minimum sentences of 10 years to life in prison.

David Dean Davidson, 52, of Oakland and Cynthia Barcelo Blake, 53, of Red Bluff are to be arraigned at 2:00pm Friday in federal court in Sacramento. They will hold a 12:30pm press conference on the steps of the federal building at 5th and I with attorney Tony Serra and medical marijuana activists.

Mr. Davidson and Ms. Blake were in court Tuesday in Corning on charges of marijuana cultivation and distribution, which they sought to have dismissed based on the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 that made medical marijuana legal in California. Both Ms. Blake and Mr. Davidson have doctors’ authorizations to use marijuana for medical conditions.

As their defense attorneys, Omar Figueroa and Shari Greenberger, met in the judge’s chambers with Tehama County Assistant District Attorney Lynn Strom to discuss the details of the case, prosecutor Strom informed them that she was dropping state charges because Mr. Davidson and Ms. Blake, who remained in the courtroom, were at that moment being arrested on a federal indictment.

“A federal court of appeals has already said the government is violating the Constitution when they arrest patients,” said Steph Sherer, executive director of the national medical marijuana coalition Americans for Safe Access. “And now state officials are giving patients to the feds and tricking attorneys to separate them from their clients. How many rights have to be trampled before we fix this?”

Americans for Safe Access has called for emergency action on Friday at noon at federal buildings across the country. Concerned citizens will be protesting the federal government’s continuing attacks on patients.

Mr. Davidson and Ms. Blake are charged with conspiracy to manufacture marijuana (more than 1,000 plants) and manufacture of marijuana (more than 100 plants). The pair were originally arrested July 29th by officers from the Tehama Sheriff’s Department during a raid on the home of Ms. Blake. That raid led to a search of Mr. Davidson’s Oakland residence. The number of plants and amount of marijuana seized is being contested.

WHAT: Press Conference and protest of the federal arrest of David Davidson and Cynthia Blake.

WHO: David Davidson and Cynthia Blake. Attorney Tony Serra. Steph Sherer, Executive Director of Americans for Safe Access.

WHEN: Friday, January 16, 2004. Press conference at 12:30. Arraignment at 2:00pm.

WHERE: Federal building, Sacramento (5th & I). Arraignment before Magistrate Hollows, 8th floor.

The leading national organization for medical marijuana, Americans for Safe Access is a coalition of 5,500 patients, doctors and advocates. For more information, contact William Dolphin at (510) 919-1498 or see safeaccessnow.org.

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