Pages tagged "DEA"

  • Has the Federal Government Changed Its Policy on Medical Marijuana Enforcement or Just Changed Its Reasons for Continued Interference?

    It would appear that raids by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in medical marijuana states have declined since President Obama’s Justice Department issued its infamous memorandum in October 2009. But, in fact, raids have continued at an alarming pace. For example, in the 16 months since the Obama Administration’s policy change, the DEA has conducted at least 43 raids in California, Colorado, Michigan and Nevada. That’s nearly 3 raids per month on average. Although arrests were not made at all of the raids, President Obama’s Justice Department has seen fit to indict and prosecute at least 24 patients and providers in connection with those federal actions. Can this really be the result of a new federal enforcement policy? Attorneys for two of the most recently indicted cultivators from Michigan vehemently argue that their young caregiver clients were in full compliance with state law. If that’s true, do these federal actions have more to do with hostile DEA agents and bitter U.S. Attorneys -- angry that their decades-long drug war has been narrowed -- or are they based on willful deception by President Obama’s Justice Department? Maybe both. While it could be argued that some of last month’s arrests in Las Vegas, Nevada, which resulted in a total of 15 indictments, was based on the fact that Nevada law does not allow for centralized distribution. And, yet, how are patients supposed to obtain their medicine if they are too sick or lack the skill to grow it themselves? Would the DEA prefer that patients seek out their medicine from the illicit market? And, why should the federal government be able to prosecute violations of state law in federal court, where patients are prevented from using a medical marijuana defense? Did the American people envision their tax dollars going to such harmful and unnecessary federal actions, especially after a policy was issued claiming that such actions would cease? With popular American support for medical marijuana at more than 80 percent, we think not. It’s time for the Obama Administration to deliver on its promise to leave patients alone. The DEA must take a hands-off approach to enforcement of medical marijuana production and distribution. Any allegations of local or state law violations should be prosecuted in state court, and not in federal court (i.e. no more federal indictments). In addition, DEA agents should be refusing to assist local law enforcement in raids on patients and providers, period. Only after the federal government stands down on this issue will states and their localities be able to effectively implement medical marijuana laws passed by the people.
  • ASA protests in MI and NV

    Medical cannabis patients in Michigan are upset that the US Department of Justice wants the state to turn over the names of legal medical cannabis patients in that state. This latest escalation in federal interference and intimidation brought protesters out into the streets Lansing and Grand Rapids this week. ASA is grateful to Michigan Chapter Coordinator Robin Schneider for braving the cold weather to let lawmakers know that patients’ privacy must be protected. (Video from Las Vegas - click More.)



    Meanwhile in Las Vegas, ASA Chapter Coordinator Eric Woodson rallied in opposition to recent Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) raids and arrests in the city. According to the DEA, the most recent arrests were connected to dispensary raids conducted in September of last year. Nevada law does not provide for community-based access programs, leaving many legal patients who cannot or will not grow medicine with no legal option.

  • New Colorado Medical Marijuana Regulations Disregard Patient Privacy

    Americans for Safe Access (ASA) filed a letter Friday, commenting on the proposed rulemaking (or regulations) for amendments to Colorado’s medical marijuana law. The State Licensing Authority of the Colorado Department of Revenue, Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division is currently accepting public input to help guide its policy efforts. Advocates applaud Colorado’s effort to improve its law by bringing greater access to medical marijuana for seriously ill patients in the state. Input by the public and, more importantly, the patient community is critically important to a well functioning law. However, ASA takes issue with several provisions of the law and the current proposed rules, and is most concerned about a seeming disregard for patient privacy. In particular, the rulemaking provisions that allow law enforcement unfettered access to surveillance information is very troubling given marijuana’s legal status under federal law and the continued enforcement of those laws by the Obama Administration. In fact, the Justice Department is currently in federal court seeking the private records of several Michigan patients, after having been rebuffed by the Michigan Community Health Department. ASA is also concerned with how available private patient records are to an increasing number of people, including court clerks and other court staff. Access to this information must be extremely restricted, and medical marijuana patients, like other patients, should be able to enjoy the full protections under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Although the deadline for written submissions closed on Friday, there will be another opportunity to give oral comment on January 27th and 28th, starting at 9am in Hearing Room 1 of the Jefferson County Justice Center Administration and Courts Facility at 100 Jefferson County Parkway, Golden, Colorado.
  • It IS a Chronic Problem

    On September 8, 2010, several search warrants were executed at dispensaries across Las Vegas.  Federal agents, assisted by local law enforcement, seized medicine, cash, and closed these dispensaries, proving that the Obama Administration AND the Department of Justice are not agencies of their word. On December 17, 2010, 3 criminal complaints were filed behind closed doors in federal court, and on January 6, 2011, these complaints were unsealed and 15 arrest warrants were issued.  Providers across Las Vegas and the entire state are under attack.  The joint task force is calling this siege Operation Chronic Problem.  Well, at least they've got one thing right.  Federal interference with state implementation of medical marijuana laws has been, and continues to be, a chronic problem. Stay tuned for news about this case, and we'll keep you in the loop about our next action to DEMAND an end to these raids and prosecutions. For the complaints, see here, here, and here. For more information about the arrests, see here and here.
  • Leonhart Gets a Pass

    On Wednesday, November 17, the Senate Judiciary Committee convened for the nomination hearing of Michele Leonhart for the position of Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). In preparation, ASA had submitted questions for the committee members to ask Ms. Leonhart, hoping that she would finally be taken to task for ignoring statements issued by the President, Attorney General, and Assistant Attorney General regarding ceasing raids on medical marijuana dispensaries. As both Deputy Administrator and Administrator, Ms. Leonhart has been behind an extremely large number of these paramilitary type raids on dispensaries, and ASA implored committee members to ask her why these raids were continuing, why she was continuing to prosecute those who were "in clear and unambiguous compliance with state law." Instead, Ms. Leonhart was praised for her work. Senators Franken and Klobuchar were both proud to claim the native Minnesotan as one of their own and Senator Feinstein was pleased to note that Ms. Leonhart and her family currently reside in California. The only real questioning on marijuana came that afternoon from Senator Jeff Sessions of Georgia (seemingly the only Republican Senator present and definitely the only one who asked any questions of Ms. Leonhart), and that was in regard to legalization. Senator Sessions believes legalizing is dangerous and the wrong thing to do and praised Ms. Leonhart agreed with him. This led to Ms. Leonhart's only comment of the day that was truly pertinent to medical marijuana when she said that she and the DEA would continue to enforce federal drug laws regardless of state law. It looks like we can expect more of the same old from the DEA in the near future.
  • Medical Marijuana Advocates Bring Attention to DEA Confirmation Hearings

    Americans for Safe Access is urging Senate Judiciary Committee (SJC) members to ask Acting Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) head Michele Leonhart difficult and pointed questions on Wednesday, during her confirmation hearing, about her plan to address the growing divide between federal and state medical marijuana laws. Leonhart, a Bush-holdover, led aggressive attacks for many years against medical marijuana patients and their providers, and has obstructed meaningful research into the medical efficacy of marijuana. Read more about Leonhart’s confirmation hearing, her background as Deputy DEA Administrator, the questions ASA has submitted to the SJC, and the action patients are taking to hold Leonhart accountable for her actions.

    [caption id="attachment_993" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Acting DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart"]
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  • Advocates Decry DEA Obstruction to Medical Marijuana Research - Obama Can and Should Regain an Adherence to Scientific Principles

    Only days before President Bush is to leave office, his administration has dealt yet another blow to scientific integrity by refusing to implement the recommendations of DEA Administrative Law Judge Mary Ellen Bittner and open up the production of cannabis (marijuana) for research purposes. For more than 40 years, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has maintained a monopoly on the cultivation of cannabis for Food & Drug Administration-approved scientific studies. Instead of opening up research on the medical properties of cannabis, the Bush administration has chosen to hide its head in the sand and obstruct the advancement of this important therapeutic substance. In June of 2001, University of Massachusetts at Amherst professor Lyle Craker, an experienced research botanist, applied for a license to cultivate cannabis for FDA-approved studies. After nine days of testimony from many experts and administration officials, Judge Bittner issued a set of recommendations in February 2007, concluding that the current sole-supply of cannabis by NIDA was insufficient for the level of research that cannabis deserves and that expanded research was "in the public interest." After nearly two years of delay, acting DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart issued a ruling today that refuses to implement Judge Bittner's recommendations. This refusal by Leonhart to adhere to her own DEA Administrative Law Judge is especially disappointing and insensitive in light of strong Congressional support for expanded research and a desire to dismantle the current monopoly on research cannabis production. In 2008, forty-five members of Congress sent a letter to then-DEA Administrator Karen Tandy, urging her to accept Judge Bittner's recommendations and calling the federal monopoly on cannabis production "unjustified." Incoming president Barack Obama has an opportunity to correct this shortsighted position that fails to recognize medical and scientific precedent. Rather than turn a cold shoulder to the reams of scientific studies pointing to the therapeutic benefits of cannabis, president-elect Obama has the opportunity to develop a sensible policy with regard to medical cannabis research. In addition, since acting-DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart has shown little capacity for understanding the need for more research into cannabis, Obama should appoint a candidate to head the DEA that can grasp the importance of advancing this important medicinal substance. To be sure, anything less will perpetuate the outdated position of the Bush Administration and deny hundreds of thousands of Americans a medicine that has been shown to be effective at treating innumerable illnesses and the side effects of toxic treatments.
  • reason.tv Video Update on Charles Lynch Trial

    Last month, reason.tv released a video about Charles Lynch and one of the patients he served before being raided by the DEA. Now that the trial has gotten underway, reason.tv has released a video update on the trial. Check it out: For a first person point of view, take a look at Charles Lynch's blog post about his trial.
  • ASA Video Testimonial- 2nd Installment

    Welcome to the latest installment of ASA's video testimonial project. As many of you may remember, the video testimonial project has been designed to help educate people about medical cannabis by having patients and supporters share their stories. This project was also designed to help people like you educate your friends and family about medical cannabis by sharing these videos with your community. Forward this blog to family, friends, and community members and help spread the word about medical cannabis. Also, check back here next Monday for the next installment of the video testimonials. Richard from Berkeley, CA Thank you again to Carson Higby-Flowers for volunteering to record, edit, and produce the testimonials. Also, thank you to all of the brave patients, supporters, and advocates who took the time to come in and participate in the video shoot. Check out last week's installment featuring three medical cannabis patients here.
  • California Weekly Round Up

    Senate Health Committee Votes to Move SJR 20 Forward From ASA's Chief of Staff, Rebecca Saltman

    The Senate Health Committee showed their commitment to safe access for patients this Wednesday by approving the resolution calling on an end to federal intervention in California and DEA attacks on medical cannabis patients, SJR 20. The 7-4 vote, split down party lines, is an key victory in putting an end to DEA raids in California. The Senate Judiciary Committee will be hearing the resolution next. Their vote will determine whether or not the resolution will move forward to a vote on the Senate floor and then the Assembly floor. Since this is a non-binding resolution, it will not need the Governor's signature. This is a very exciting move forward for medical cannabis patients throughout the state. If passed on the Senate and Assembly floors, this resolution will send a resounding statement nationwide saying to the Federal government that Californians are taking a stand and calling for an end to the attacks! Read more about the hearing on ASA's blog.

    SJR 20 is the Senate Joint Resolution that calls for an end to DEA attacks on California’s medical cannabis patients and providers and further calls on the President and Congress to enact federal legislation to end the raids. If passed, this will be the first time in U.S. history that a state legislature has denounced the DEA’s interference in state laws and tactics used against medical cannabis patients and providers. To read more about SJR 20, visit www.AmericansForSafeAccess.org/SJR20 Thank you to those who testified on Wednesday in support of SJR 20, including: Lisa Sawoya, Hollywood Compassionate Collective Yvonne Westbrook-White, patient/advocate (see her video testimonial here: www.AmericansForSafeAccess.org/VideoTestimonial) Don Duncan, Americans for Safe Access Aaron Smith, Marijuana Policy Project Dale Gieringer, California NORML

    There are several important medical cannabis bills and resolutions being heard by the state Senate and Assembly Committees over the next few weeks. ASA will continue to update our lists as things move forward. If you are not yet signed up for ASA's Forums to receive instant alerts, go to www.AmericansforSafeAccess.org/ASAForums

    Medical CannabisProvider, Michael Martin, Pleads Guilty to Federal Charges

    On Wednesday Tainted Compassionate Medicinals operator, Michael Martin, plead guilty to a felony count of conspiracy to manufacture a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of marijuana. Martin now faces up to five years in a federal prison, a $250,000 fine, and several years of supervised release. On September 26, 2007, the DEA raided five locations in Oakland and San Leandro, allegedly confiscating hundreds of edibles and 460 plants, and arresting Jessica Sanders (30), Michael Anderson (42), and Diallo McLinn (35). After a press conference on October 4, Michael Martin (33), who had been on vacation during the raid, voluntarily turned himself in. All four were originally charged with conspiracy to manufacture or distribute controlled substances and are out on bail. Two of the defendants have since had their charges reduced to misdemeanors and Sanders' charge has been reduced as well. Tainted Medicinal Edibles were available for patients as an alternative to smoking at dispensing collectives across the state. The emotional hearing was short and ended with Martin leaving the courtroom and nearly 50 supporters of Martin, his family, and medical cannabis exiting the courtroom all at once. The sentencing hearing is scheduled for July 2, 2008 at 2:30pm. Read more about the hearing in ASA Chief of Staff, Rebecca Saltzman's, blog, Vanessa Nelson's Article, and Michael Martin's blog on FreeTainted.com Los Angeles Activists and Victims of DEA Raids Rally in Response to Federal Attacks From ASA's California Campaign Director, Don Duncan Sixty medical cannabis patients and advocates protested in front of the DEA offices at the Federal Building in downtown Los Angeles on Tuesday in response to last week’s DEA raids in the Los Angeles area. The protesters heard first hand from Virgil Grant, whose collectives and home were raided on Thursday in a coordinated paramilitary-style operation that involved dozens of DEA agents and police officers from Los Angeles, Gardena, and Compton. Before the protest, I joined Virgil Grant, Yami Balonos, Michael Levitt, and Sarah Armstrong at the Los Angeles City Council meeting where we asked that the council to move quickly to re-convene the city working group that is working on regulations for collectives and to oppose the DEA's interference tactics. Council Member Janice Hahn said she would reconvene the working group. California. Next Wednesday, April 2, the council will vote on a resolution endorsing CA Senator Carole Migden’s Senate Joint Resolution 20 calling on the President and US Congress to end the raids. See below in the City and County Hearings section for more details. Thanks to everyone who came out to support Virgil and his family! Watch the Fox 29 coverage of the rally and hearing. Patients File Against Mendocino County's Ballot Initiative Measure B Mendocino County Attorney, Edie Lerman, filed a lawsuit on behalf of medical cannabis patients Paula A. Laguna and George Hanamoto challenging the legality of ballot initiative Measure B. This Mendocino County initiative calls for a stricter cultivation limits for medical cannabis patients than the California state limit and a repeal of the 2000 initiative Measure G, further limiting the number of plants a medical cannabis patient can have Measure G decriminalized personal use of cannabis, with the intent to create safer access for medical cannabis patients. Measure G Also Allowed patients to cultivate up to 25 plants for personal use. The lawsuit filed on Wednesday states that Measure B cannot be a ballot initiative because there are two distinct components to the bill: the repeal of Measure G and limiting the plant limits for medical cannabis patients. California's state constitution forbids initiatives from containting more than one subject.