Los Angeles City Council Votes to End Federal DEA Medical Marijuana Raids

Los Angeles, CA -- As the Los Angeles City Council voted today to move forward with the regulation of medical cannabis (marijuana) dispensaries, federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents were conducting raids on at least 6 dispensaries in the greater Los Angeles area. The Council approved the first reading today of a moratorium on new dispensaries in the city, with final approval expected within a week. The moratorium will give the city time to draft regulations that would establish a permit process and guidelines for providers of medical marijuana. The Council also passed a resolution in support of a vote in Congress scheduled to occur today that would deny funding to the U.S. Department of Justice, and the DEA, for enforcement against medical marijuana patients and providers.

Los Angeles City Councilmember, and former police officer, Dennis Zine, held a press conference this morning, prior to the vote, where he revealed a letter sent by three Councilmembers to DEA Administrator Karen Tandy. The letter from Los Angeles Councilmembers Dennis Zine, Janice Hahn and Bill Rosendahl was sent in response to increased federal activity, including numerous raids on medical cannabis dispensaries as well as letters sent by the DEA to at least 140 landlords of dispensing facilities. The letter requests that the DEA "abandon this tactic and allow this City Council to continue the important work of regulating these facilities without Federal interference." Despite the apparent conflict between state and federal law, Zine affirms the need to "uphold the will of our voters and adopt sensible guidelines to regulate the provision of medical cannabis in our communities."

A vote will also take place in Congress today that would prevent federal funds to be used to interfere in the twelve states that have adopted medical marijuana laws. The Hinchey-Rohrabacher amendment to the House Commerce-Justice-State appropriations bill, named after its authors Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), would end the federal crackdown currently occurring in Los Angeles and other parts of California. The resolution adopted today by the Los Angeles City Council supports the Hinchey-Rohrabacher amendment and the prohibition of further raids on "[medical] marijuana dispensaries in states that have laws supporting their operation."

"These continued actions by the DEA, in spite of the strong endorsement of medical marijuana by the Los Angeles City Council, is reprehensible," said Chris Fusco, the Southern California Field Coordinator for Americans for Safe Access, the nation's largest medical marijuana advocacy organization. "It shows that the federal government will stop at nothing to undermine California's medical marijuana law, and that today's DEA actions are in retaliation for the successful work being done by advocates and city officials." Two hundred protesters gathered today at California Patients Group, one of the dispensaries raided by the DEA, and confronted federal agents. Instead of arresting a group of people being held inside the facility, federal agents were forced to release them or face continued civil disobedience, in the form of blockades, by protesters at the scene.

In another apparent rebuke locally to federal efforts against medical marijuana access, Los Angeles' neighbor to the east, the City of Claremont, voted Tuesday night to allow and regulate a dispensary within its city limits.

In order to bring attention to the increased federal activity by the DEA, Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is calling for statewide protests Friday. In Los Angeles, protests will occur at 9am at the federal building (255 East Temple) to be followed by a march to City Hall (200 N Spring St.) to request that the city do everything it can to ensure protection for its patients and providers from further federal interference.

For further information, refer to:
Letter from LA Councilmembers to DEA Administrator Karen Tandy: http://www.safeaccessnow.org/downloads/Zine_DEA_Letter.pdf
Resolution adopted by the Los Angeles City Council in support of Hinchey-Rohrabacher: http://www.safeaccessnow.org/downloads/LA_Resolution.pdf
The DEA letter to more than 140 landlords in the Los Angeles area: http://www.safeaccessnow.org/downloads/DEA_Landlord_Letter.pdf
ASA's one-pager on the Hinchey-Rohrabacher amendment: http://www.safeaccessnow.org/downloads/Hinchey_One_Pager.pdf