Patients, Advocates Protest Law Enforcement's Anti-Medical Marijuana Training

Los Angeles, CA -- With signs urging "Implementation Not Eradication," the nationwide medical marijuana advocacy organization Americans for Safe Access will lead lively, peaceful protests this Thursday at a law enforcement training class hosted by the statewide California Narcotics Officers Association (CNOA) entitled, "The Eradication of Medical Marijuana Dispensaries in the City of Los Angeles and Los Angeles County. " Thursday's CNOA class, which appears to be a training on how to defy state law, follows a similar class held in Los Angeles on September 22nd and precedes a northern California class to be held on November 21st.

"There is no place in California for an anti-medical marijuana road show that trains police how to flaunt state law," said ASA California Director Don Duncan. "Statewide law enforcement organizations like CNOA should be helping to implement safe methods of medical marijuana distribution, not working to undermine access."
What: Lively, peaceful protests against law enforcement training on eradication of medical marijuana dispensaries
When: Thursday, October 8, 2009 at 11am
Where: Montebello Country Club, 901 Via San Clemente (& N. Garfield Ave) in Montebello
Although the CNOA has gained a reputation for its long-standing hostility toward medical marijuana -- having filed several legal briefs in opposition to state law -- it is the list of trainers that is surprising and particularly noteworthy. Headlining the training on how to "eradicate" medical marijuana dispensaries is Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley, Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich, and police officers from Los Angeles, Pasadena, and Alhambra. Appearing to straddle both sides of the fence, City Attorney Trutanich is also ostensibly working to pass an ordinance that would regulate, not eradicate, medical marijuana dispensaries.

The CNOA training comes at a time when the City of Los Angeles is finalizing a years long effort to develop an ordinance regulating medical marijuana dispensing collectives, also known as dispensaries. Despite the city's attempt to limit the number of medical marijuana dispensaries by implementing an Interim Control Ordinance (ICO), a moratorium on new facilities, hundreds have opened in the two years since the ICO's 2007 passage. However, instead of taking civil action against facilities it considers to be in violation of the ICO, the city has used the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) to carry out several aggressive SWAT-style raids, with the help of federal agents in at least one instance.

In contrast to the city's lengthy effort to pass an ordinance, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors adopted its own ordinance regulating medical marijuana dispensaries in June of 2006, well before the city implemented the ICO. Although the county has not had to deal with the same level of dispensary proliferation as in the City of Los Angeles, the county's existing ordinance, as well as those from more than 40 localities across the state, should have provided the city with an ample road map to pass an ordinance of its own. "To the extent there are problems with the increase of medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles, it's due to the city's failure to expediently adopt and enforce a local ordinance."

Southern California is considered by many to be the last stronghold of opposition to the state's medical marijuana laws passed more than 12 years ago. Last month, local law enforcement with the help of federal agents raided more than a dozen medical marijuana dispensaries in San Diego County, with the District Attorney calling the state-compliant facilities illegal. Patients and advocates in San Diego will also be protesting on Thursday, October 8 at 9am with a rally at the federal building to be followed by a march to the office of District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis.

Coincidentally, Montebello, the city in which the CNOA training will be held, is the same city that has been accused by ASA of contempt for refusing to return a patient's wrongfully seized medical marijuana. For five years, the City of Montebello has spurned efforts by medical marijuana patient Terry Walker to seek the return of his property, despite a landmark decision in Garden Grove v. Superior Court, which held that local law enforcement could not use federal law as a reason not to return a patient's property. A hearing in Walker's contempt case will happen next week on October 13th.

Further information:
CNOA training brochure:
White Paper on need for Los Angeles Regulations:
Regulatory ordinance for Los Angeles County:

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