Pages tagged "ASA Activism"

  • Patients Rally, Police Raid

    On Thursday, October 11th, 300 medical cannabis patients and advocates rallied in front of the Governor's office in downtown Los Angeles demanding that he stand up for patients' rights and the will of California voters and lawmakers. Later that night night, the DEA and LAPD staged yet another raid a one of Los Angeles' most respected collectives, the Arts District Healing Center (ADHC). Dozens of protesters turned out again to defend ADHC, which serves patients just blocks from City Hall. It is disheartening to see our local police department continue to support these harmful and unnecessary raids – despite clear guidance from LAPD Veteran and City Council Member Dennis Zine and his colleagues that the City intends to regulate medical cannabis facilities instead of close them. It is crucial that City Council members move forward quickly with a proposed resolution calling on an end to cooperation between the LAPD and DEA on medical cannabis raids. The image of our police department has been battered of late by brutality and scandal. This city does not need to see the men and women who should be heroes doing the work of villains. I was so proud of my fellow Angelinos and our guests from as far away as Rhode Island who stood up twice yesterday. It is a tremendous credit to local organizers that this constituency is so well trained and prepared to respond to an emergency on short notice. Americans for Safe Access (ASA) staff and volunteers leapt into action – sending hundreds of text messages and thousands of email alerts about the raid and protest less than one one half an hour after in began. Volunteers started calling phone trees prepared in advance for just this situation. ASA members showed up with signs and bull horns they keep in their cars in case of a federal raid. We will need all of those skills and dedication to keep pace with the continuing escalation of federal attacks on patients’ access in Los Angeles. We will likely face more raids in the near future, and some advocates will escalate their opposition using tactics of non-violent resistance, non-cooperation, and civil disobedience. The Los Angeles Chapter of ASA is prepared to train and support these advocates all along the way. We will continue to face these raids until we finally succeed in harmonizing federal law with the laws of California and the other states that allow for medical cannabis. Support from our Governor and other public figures is an important part of that effort. We also need to educate Members of Congress and their staffs so they are prepared to solve this problem once and for all. Every single day, ASA staff is working in Washington, DC, to defend patients in Los Angeles and nationwide. It makes a tremendous difference in their work when elected officials hear from their constituency about medical cannabis. Our DC staff can tell you first hand: your calls and letters matter. The next few months may be tough in Los Angeles. Please join us to fight back. On Thursday, I told the crowd at the rally that Los Angeles is where we will win the battle for safe access in California. That battle in underway in earnest right now. Thank you to those who have already joined the fight. We need everyone else! The next LA-ASA meeting will be on Saturday, October 20, at 1:00 at the Patient ID Center. Get a map or public transit information at http://www.ASAaction.org You can join the nation’s largest organization of patients, medical professionals, scientists and concerned citizens promoting safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research right now – http://www.AmericansForSafeAccess.org/Join You can also sign up for our emergency text message alert to be notified about DEA raids at http://www.AmericansForSafeAccess.org/RaidAlert See you at the meeting! See you in the streets!
  • California Weekly Round Up

    Hundreds Gather at the Governor's Office Calling on Him to Stand Up for Patients' Rights On Thursday, over 300 medical cannabis supporters gathered from around the state to call on Governor Schwarzenegger to stand up for patients' rights and call on the Bush Administration to end the war on patients. The people began gathering in front of the Governor's over an hour before the event was scheduled. By the time the rally began, the crowd took up almost the entire block, spilling into the streets. During the rally, people were chanting, "support patients' rights, stand up and fight," and, "we're patients, not criminals!" Patients, providers, supporters, and concerned citizens held marquis-styled signs reading clever slogans such as, "Coming Soon: the Gov. in Terminate the DEA," "Coming Soon, the Gov. in End of DEA Days," and "The Gov. in Stop the Federal Predators." Brian Perry, LA City Council Member, Dennis Zine's, staffer read a powerful statement at the rally saying, "this year has seen a dramatic increase in federal law enforcement activity surrounding medical cannabis, including raids, confiscation of medicine and plants, and indictments." Other speakers included a reading of a statement by Orange County Supervisor, Chris Norby, ASA Executive Director, Steph Sherer, Michael Martin, the former medical marijuana edible manufacturer who was recently raided by the DEA, and ASA California Campaign Director, Don Duncan. The rally ended on a somber note when the crowd went silent to hear federal inmate, Stephanie Landa, speak on a participant's speaker phone from jail. Her speech further illustrated the need for the Governor to intervene in this dire situation. This year alone, 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. This rally culminated 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. Read more about the rally in the Associated Press, the Daily Breeze, and KSBY - NBC TV 6 (San Luis Obispo). DEA Raids Downtown Dispensary Following the Rally From ASA California Campaign Director, Don Duncan Last Thursday, more than 300 medical cannabis patients and advocates rallied in front of the Governor's office in downtown Los Angeles demanding that he stand up for patients' rights and the will of California voters and lawmakers. Last night, the DEA and LAPD staged yet another raid a one of Los Angeles' collectives, the Arts District Healing Center (ADHC). More than 50 protesters turned out again to defend ADHC, which serves patients just blocks from City Hall. It is disheartening to see our local police department continue to support these harmful and unnecessary raids – despite clear guidance from LAPD Veteran and City Council Member Dennis Zine and his colleagues that the City intends to regulate medical cannabis facilities instead of close them. It is crucial that City Council members move forward quickly with a proposed resolution calling on an end to cooperation between the LAPD and DEA on medical cannabis raids. The image of our police department has been battered of late by brutality and scandal. This city does not need to see the men and women who should be heroes doing the work of villains. I was so proud of my fellow Angelinos and our guests from as far away as Rhode Island who stood up twice yesterday. It is a tremendous credit to local organizers that this constituency is so well trained and prepared to respond to an emergency on short notice. Americans for Safe Access (ASA) staff and volunteers leapt into action – sending hundreds of text messages and thousands of email alerts about the raid and protest less than one one half an hour after in began. You can sign up for our emergency text message alert to be notified about DEA raids at http://www.AmericansForSafeAccess.org/RaidAlert. To sign up to receive the weekly round up by email, click here.

  • Medical Marijuana Enters into Electoral Politics

    Steve Filson, Democratic California Assembly Candidate for the 15th District, posted his candidate statement on Calitics yesterday. After covering his platform issues, he came out strongly in favor of medical cannabis:
    And the one vote I will consistently cast is to support medical use of marijuana. My extensive corporate management experience with employees, who fell victim, albeit rarely, to substance abuse is based on medical and other professional training, not on the viewpoint of archaic hysteria. As an expert in employee recovery programs, I know this drug to be fully appropriate for medicinal uses and it does not constitute a "domino" step to harder drugs.
    Considering that Filson is vying for a seat that has historically been held by Republicans, this is a courageous statement and shows that he really cares about patients and understands the importance of this issue to Californians. Thanks to the work of Granite Staters for Medical Marijuana, all of the Democratic presidential candidates have also come out in support of medical marijuana, along with two of the Republican candidates, Rep. Ron Paul and Rep. Tom Tancredo. It is clear that medical marijuana is becoming a more mainstream electoral issue. Soon it will be the job of advocates and patients to hold our elected officials to these statements.
  • California Weekly Round Up

    ASA Holds an Emotional Press Conference as Tainted's Michael Martin Turns Himself In Yesterday, dozens of ASA's supporters and ASA staff gathered at an emotional press conference as edible producer Michael Martin, 33, turned himself over to federal authorities in response to an arrest warrant issued last week. Martin received word of the September 26 Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) raid on Tainted, Inc. while on vacation, and is not considered a fugitive as reported earlier by government and media. Martin, a medical marijuana patient, spoke at the press conference saying, "We must put a stop to this travesty and, as a community, speak up, and defend a patients' right to use safer alternatives of medication as they and their doctors see fit. We must no longer allow the federal government to viciously intimidate its citizens by misinforming and blantantly lying to the public about the benefits of cannabis as a safe and effective medicine..." Read Michael Martin's open letter, which he read from at the press conference at: www.AmericansforSafeAccess.org/downloads/Martin_Letter.pdf. The press conference continued with Martin's lawyer, Sara Zalkin, his mother, Kimberly Miller, a patient who relies on cannabis edibles, Jeff Bishop, collective operator Richard Lee, and ASA's Executive Director, Dr. Frank Lucido, Steph Sherer, speaking. Several media sources covered the press conference including the San Francisco Chronicle, The Associated Press, ABC 7, CBS 5, and KTVU Channel 2. Martin was released on bail of $300,000 and will appear before the Magistrate Brazil in Oakland Federal Court along with the three other defendants facing charges, on October 26th at 10:00am. ASA will be posting his upcoming court dates in the CA Weekly Alerts to come. Read ASA's press advisory on the event here. ASA Chapters Organize Statewide Banner Drop Targeting Governor Schwarzenegger Yesterday, with one week until the statewide mobilization left, several California ASA chapters throughout the state conducted a synchronized banner drop during rush hour. Activists performed this act of civil disobedience by rolling out homemade banners, reading the message, "Gov. Schwarzenegger: Defend California's Medical Marijuana Laws!" Some of the chapters, like the San Francisco ASA chapter, left the banner up after they had left. The banner drops were designed to further promote the important mobilization to the Governor's office next Thursday, whilst increasing public awareness around the issue. As many of you may know, medical marijuana activists, supporters, patients, and providers, have been organizing a statewide mobilization to the Governor's office in Los Angeles. The event will take place next Thursday, October 11th at 12:00pm at the Governor's Los Angeles office. To read more about the campaign and the mobilization, check out the "Take Action" and "Special Events" sections in the Weekly Alert, or visit www.AmericansforSafeAccess.org/StandUp. Several people called ASA's headquarters yesterday to report spotting the banners on their way to work. ASA's San Francisco chapter recorded their banner drop on video. We will be posting the video on ASA's website early next week. Thank you to all the chapter members for taking action to promote this historic campaign! If you are interested in getting involved in your local ASA chapter, contact [email protected]. Longtime Medical Marijuana Activist is Arrested at a Drug Free Coalition Meeting Earlier this week, longtime medical marijuana activist and leader of the Inland Empire's Marijuana Anti-Prohibition Project, Lanny Swerdlow, was arrested at a Drug Free Community Coalition meeting in Rancho Cucamunga. Swerdlow was arrested after law enforcement were called by the Drug Free Community Coalition's leader, Paul Chabot. Authorities claim that Swerdlow was arrested because Chabot was pressing charges for alleged assault. Swerdlow refutes this claim, and is preparing to fight the charges. Below is an excerpt that Swerdlow wrote up about the event:
    "After about an hour of sitting in the car while the police questioned some of the people and ran background checks on the four of us who were there and questioned me as well, the officer issued me a citation, citing me for battery. They informed me that they were not doing this because they had seen anything, but doing it because Mr. Chabot was pressing charges against me. They were very courteous the entire time and I suspect that they felt this was all a crock, but, if I understood them correctly, they had no choice but to arrest me because Mr. Chabot was adamant in filing charges... No matter what happens, the Chabots and their Drug Free Community Coalition better get used to seeing us if they are going to operate in the Inland Empire and continue their attacks on California's medical marijuana laws. Riverside County has made great strides especially in the light of where this county was five years ago. San Bernardino County is somewhat where Riverside County was five years ago but there are two cities, Claremont and Diamond Bar in SB County that allow dispensaries. We have come too far and achieved too much to let anyone stop us now. We will do what we can to see to it that patients in the Inland Empire continue to have access to sources of medicinal marijuana and that laws of the state of California are respected by all. "
    Read the Lanny Swerdlow's full report on ASA's Forums here. For more information on the event and the work MAPP is doing, contact Lanny at: [email protected]. To sign up to receive this weekly round up by e-mail, click here.
  • California Weekly Round Up

    DEA Raids a Sacramento Dispensary and Attacks Oakland Edible Provider, Tainted, Inc.

    This week, the DEA escalated their attacks on patients in California when agents raided the oldest running dispensary in Sacramento, River City Patients' Center and in a separate attack, Oakland-based medical marijuana edible manufacturer, Tainted, Inc.

    Wednesday morning, federal agents showed up at River City Patient Center raiding the facility, detaining five employees, stealing medicine, seizing the collective's financial assets, and detaining the collective's operartor, William Pearce. The raid came after a supposed yearlong investigation into Pearce's collective. Pearce, a highly respected member of the medical marijuana community, and the five employees were released Wednesday evening. No arrests were made.

    ASA's Sacramento Chapter and affiliates turned out over 100 protesters during the raid, showing their support for the collective. Read more about the raid in the Sac Bee, and read about ASA's response on our new blog.

    The other attack on Wednesday was independent of the Sacramento raid. The DEA targeted medical marijuana edibles provider, Tainted, Inc. The paramilitary-style raids by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) involved five locations the DEA says are connected to Tainted, Inc., a well-known supplier of edible medical cannabis products available in dozens of medical marijuana dispensaries across the state. Heavily armed federal agents seized cannabis plants and medicinal edibles, arrested three people and shot an employee's dog.

    Tainted, Inc. provides clearly labeled baked goods and other marijuana edibles to medical cannabis patients and collectives all over California. Edible cannabis products provide an alternative to smoking cannabis and are preferred by many patients. The products made by Tainted, Inc. are available only through medical cannabis dispensaries and carry prominent warning labels.

    Tainted owner Michael Martin was out of town when the raids occurred and is expected to turn himself in to federal agents next week. Martin could face twenty years or more in federal prison for his role in supplying medical cannabis. Because federal law does not recognize medical uses for marijuana, if he goes to trial, Martin will not be allowed to tell jurors that his company supplied medical cannabis products through licensed dispensaries to qualified patients. Defense attorneys are prevented from raising state law, local regulations or the vast amount of medical cannabis science in federal marijuana trials.


    Read ASA's full press release on the Tainted, Inc. raids.

    The Medical Marijuana and HIV/AIDS Movement Mourn the Loss of Bay Area Activist, John Shaw
    By ASA's Interim California Campaign Director, Don Duncan

    I am very sad to learn that John Shaw, my friend and ally in the struggle for safe access, died yesterday in San Francisco. Many of you know John from his years of crusading and selfless volunteer work on behalf of medical cannabis and other HIV/AIDS patients. John's good spirits and positive attitude were always an inspiration. I remember how he brought so much enthusiasm to our first ASA outreach teams when he traveled to Los Angeles, never being daunted by the enormity of the task or the always-present opposition. He was always an empathetic friend and a joy to be around - someone who will long be missed by me and his many friends in the Bay Area and all over California.

    I hope you will join me in expressing condolences to his family, loved ones, and friends. I have not yet heard word about services, but wanted to let the community know about this terrible loss. John Shaw at an ASA rally protesting a 2005 DEA raid.



    Here is a link of John testifying in San Francisco earlier this month:

    John Testifying


    After clicking on this link, choose September 11th full Board meeting, then Jump to #19 in the 'Jump To' bar below the video screen. John appears at 51:15 in the video.

    John's family is planning a memorial, and ASA will announce this when a date is chosen.

    Thanks to ASA's Los Angeles Field Coordinator, Chris Fusco! You Will be Surely Missed

    By ASA's Interim California Campaign Director, Don Duncan

    I am sorry to report that Chris Fusco, our LA County Coordinator, will be leaving Americans for Safe Access this week. Chris has done an amazing job here in Los Angeles, helping to steer the campaign for safe access through some very turbulent times. He has helped shape the greatest expansion of safe access since Proposition 215 was adopted, and helped the community bear the brunt of the DEA's unprecedented pressure on patients and collectives.

    I have watched Chris take initiative and show leadership as an ASA volunteer and as my personal assistant this year. With LA's moratorium finally in effect and the process of writing permanent regulations under way, Chris can move on knowing he has made a positive difference for this community.

    His diligence and good nature will be missed. Let's all wish him well in his next endeavors and hope to see him again soon!

    Call to the LA Office may be directed to (323) 882-6766 and emails may be sent to me at [email protected]

    ASA vs. Alameda Elections Suit: Victory for Medical Marijuana Patients!

    This past Tuesday, Superior Court Judge Winifred Y. Smith ruled that the Alameda County Registrar of Voters and Alameda County, "have engaged in a pattern of withholding relevant evidence and failure to preserve evidence" necessary to conduct a recount of a hotly contested Berkeley ballot measure in 2004. As a result, the Court has voided the election and ordered the County to place Measure R back on the ballot for a re-vote at the next year in the general election. Judge Smith continued by saying Alameda County officials should pay attorneys' fees and reimburse a medical marijuana group more than $22,000 for the costs it incurred during a disputed recount shortly after the November 2004 election.The measure sought to end limits on the number of plants allowed to medical marijuana users and would have created a peer oversight committee for medical cannabis dispensaries in the city.

    Americans for Safe Access and three other patients filed the lawsuit against Alameda County on December 30, 2004. The lawsuit challenges Alameda County's refusal to allow the public to examine copies of the Measure R electronic votes and system audit logs during the recount of the ballot initiative conducted on electronic voting machines made by Diebold Election Systems, Inc.

    Read about the victory for Measure R and patients and providers in Alameda County in the San Francisco Chronicle.

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  • DEA Gives Schwarzenegger Another Reason to Stand Up for Patients' Rights

    Today, on my way into the office, I got a call alerting me that the DEA was raiding River City Patient Center, a medical cannabis dispensary in Sacramento. I was immediately outraged by the DEA's continued harassment of patients and providers, but here at ASA, we're used to putting these feelings aside and springing into action. By the time I reached ASA's headquarters, everyone was on the phone, calling media outlets and supporters to urge them to protest at the site of the raid. A text message had been sent out to ASA's Sacramento raid emergency response text messaging group, emails had been sent to local listserves, and alerts had been posted on message boards. Just a couple hours after the raid began, ASA's Sacramento chapter leader informed us that 100 patients and advocates were protesting outside the dispensary with signs and flags. Several reporters had interviewed her and filmed the progress of the raid. Their was some good news - it didn't appear as if Sacramento's police or sheriff's department had been involved in the raid. The feds acted on their own. Also, we just found out that all the employees who had been detained were released. No arrests were made. After two and a half years at ASA, raid response has become a routine part of my work life. Still, DEA actions continue to shake me up. I refuse to get used to them and instead, I use these times to reflect on the important work we're doing and to reinvigorate my activist energy so that one day we will not need emergency responses. If you're a CA resident who's also shaken up, here's something easy you can do to make a difference - call the Governor as part of ASA's Stand Up for Patients' Rights campaign. Here's the info: Call the governor's headquarters today to urge him to stand up for patients' rights by calling on the Bush administration to end the DEA raids on state-sanctioned patients and providers. The Governor's Headquarters in Sacramento: 916-445-2841 Phone Script:
    "Hello, my name is __Insert Your Name__ and I live in __Insert Your City__ in California. Thousands of California medical marijuana patients depend on safe access to medicine to treat the chronic and terminal disease symptoms. The federal government has taken serious actions to raid, arrest, and prosecute hundreds of patients and providers, publicly stating that they will not recognize the validity of our law. Today, the DEA raided another medical cannabis provider in Sacramento. On Thursday, October 11, we are gathering at your office in Los Angeles, I urge you to join us on that day to stand up for patients’ rights. I also urge you to defend California's laws and call on the Bush Administration to end the attack on patients and providers. Please let me know what you plan to do."
    Please let ASA know you've called the governor by e-mailing [email protected].