Protests Wednesday Noon in SF, Sacto over DEA Raids

ROSEVILLE – Federal agents descended on the foothill town of Roseville yesterday to raid one of the Sacramento area’s only licensed medical marijuana dispensaries. Local advocates are calling for noon protests Wednesday at the federal buildings in Sacramento and San Francisco.
Capitol Compassionate Care, which has approximately 1,000 registered patients, was shut down yesterday morning in a Drug Enforcement Agency action that also included the home of the centers owner in nearby Newcastle. The owner, Richard Marino, was openly growing 200 marijuana plants there and had been the subject of several newspaper stories. In the most recent article, DEA spokesman Richard Meyer – who routinely claims “there is no such thing as medical marijuana” – warned that Mr. Marino was “in harms way.” Yesterday his agency made good on that threat.

The DEA's cruelty is shocking, said Aundre Speciale, a staff member of Americans for Safe Access, the leading national advocacy group for medical marijuana, who was on the scene in Roseville along with many of the dispensary's patients. A woman in a wheelchair told the DEA agents she was dying of cancer and begged them to stop. She was crying, and the agents just laughed at her.

Capitol Compassionate Care had recently gone through a permitting process with the City of Roseville that resulted in a license for the center to dispense medical marijuana to qualified patients. California voters approved the medical use of marijuana in 1996, and the state legislature expanded on that with a bill passed in 2003. Currently 10 states have laws permitting medical use, and a federal appellate court ruling last December established that most state-legal medical marijuana patients and caregivers are exempt from the federal prohibition.

No arrests have been made, but the minimum Mr. Marino can expect, just for the 200 plants he was growing at his home, is a mandatory five-year sentence in federal prison. If charged with cultivating or conspiring to cultivate 1,000 or more, the minimum sentence is 10 years, with the possibility of life.

: Protest against DEA raid of a city-licensed cannabis dispensary in Rosevville.
WHO: Medical marijuana patients, caregivers and advocates.
WHEN: Noon, Wednesday, September 8, 2004.
WHERE: Federal buildings in Sacramento (5th and I), and San Francisco (Golden Gate and Larkin). 
For interviews or more information, contact William Dolphin at (510) 919-1498. A national coalition of 10,000 patients, doctors and advocates, Americans for Safe Access is the largest organization working solely on medical marijuana.