Pages tagged "Law Enforcement"

  • MT Governor vetoes repeal, but the fight continues

     

    [caption id="attachment_1391" align="alignnone" width="275" caption="Governor Schweitzer "]
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    Medical cannabis patients in Montana scored a victory yesterday, when Governor Schweitzer vetoed a bill that would have repealed that state’s seven-year old medical cannabis law, but there is little time to celebrate. The state House of Representatives just approved SB 423, a bill that would gut the state’s medical cannabis law and severely limit patients’ access. The bill is now in a joint committee for final revisions before going to the governor’s desk, so we must work for another veto.

    The debate in Montana matters for medical cannabis patients nationwide. Powerful out-of-state lobby organizations are using the effort to repeal or severely curtail the state’s law as a rallying point in a nationwide push against safe access. If we do not draw the line in Montana, patients may soon be fighting to hold ground nationwide. ASA needs your help to ensure we keep moving forward, not backward.



    It doesn't have to be this way. I was in Montana in March, when Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents raided 26 dispensaries, gardens, and homes. I toured the state organizing local resistance and energizing grassroots action. Newly trained and empowered patients in Montana are pushing back and making a difference.

    If ASA had the resources, we could do the same in every state where medical cannabis opponents are attacking safe access. We need your help now more than ever to fight for medical cannabis in the states. Will you make a special contribution to ASA today?

    Thank you for supporting ASA and helping us fight for safe access nationwide!
  • The Feds are Here!



    The feds are here, and they are making their presence known. In March alone, the DEA raided 26 medical cannabis facilities in Montana, two licensed dispensaries in California, and a doctor’s clinic in Michigan. We need to fight back and prepare for our response as a movement to future raids – and unfortunately the DEA has shown it’s just a matter of time.

    ASA’s Emergency Raid Response program prepares patients, providers, and the community how to act and react during a raid, because when it comes to raids, preparation is essential for an effective response effort. We’re expanding the program to all medical cannabis states, and in order to do that, we need your help.


    Our text message alert system is vital to informing local activists when a raid is happening in their area. This creates a visible community protesting the raid. Sign up for ASA’s raid alerts, so you can help show the nation that federal intervention will not be tolerated.

    ASA has orchestrated over two hundred Emergency Raid Response efforts, which have protected countless victims, shortened raids, and helped frame this issue as a patients’ rights issue in the media. We do this by training staff at dispensing centers, preparing action plans for victims, contacting attorneys for raid victims, turning out protestors on the day of the raid, and framing media coverage in response to raids. Your support is vital to ensuring this program reaches patients and providers across the county at little to no cost.

    With federal raids on the rise and recent warnings from US Attorney Michael Ormsby to landlords of medical cannabis facilities in Spokane, Wash., of federal intervention, an immediate response is required. We must prepare patients and providers for the potential of raids and have effective response methods in place before the next wave of raids hits.

    Please help ASA expand our Emergency Raid Response program across the nation. Together, we will bring national attention to Obama’s Administration’s interference in states’ laws.
  • Stop the Raids!



    UPDATE: Patients Speak Up in Montana.

    Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is calling on medical cannabis patients and advocates to speak up in opposition to paramilitary-style raids on medical cannabis patients, growers, and providers in Montana and California this week. The Obama Administration needs to hear that Americans do not support targeting legitimate patients, who use medical cannabis to treat the symptoms of AIDS, cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, chronic pain, and other serious conditions. The President and Department of Justice must allow states to implement and regulate medical cannabis laws, while developing a comprehensive federal policy that protects safe and legal access for every patient.



    The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) raided twenty-six medical cannabis facilities in Montana over a two-day period this week. This would be egregious at any time, but these raids were timed to coincide with an important vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee on a bill that would repeal the state’s medical cannabis law. The bill died in committee on Monday, but the bills’ author, House Speaker Mike Milburn, vowed to reintroduce it on the floor of the Senate. A vote may be imminent.



    It is no coincidence that the critical vote in the Senate will come right after shock-and-awe style raids statewide. Lawmakers and voters alike will be influenced by media reports suggesting widespread drug trafficking, money laundering, and the like. Conscientious citizens all over the country should be appalled by the fact that the DEA is so clearly used its federal police power to subvert the political process in Montana. Voters in Montana should also be asking which of their elected officials called in federal storm troopers when there were not enough votes to get the repeal bill through committee.

    Montana was not the only state to see a federal crackdown this week. Two licensed medical cannabis collectives in West Hollywood, California, were raided by the DEA on Tuesday. Residents there are stunned, because West Hollywood is often cited as an example of a city that has properly regulated safe access to medicine. Its four legal collectives have business licenses, pay taxes, and operate under careful scrutiny. Was there some urgent threat to public safety that the Sheriff’s Department could not handle without federal reinforcements? Probably not. View more on the West Hollywood raids from Reason.tv.

    The warrants for Tuesday’s raids in West Hollywood remain sealed, so we do not know yet why the DEA seems to have acted outside the guidelines outlined in a memo from Deputy Attorney General David Ogden in October 2009. Ogden wrote then that agents should not make medical cannabis enforcement a priority against “individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana.” Ogden’s memo was a watershed moment in the struggle for safe access, but we clearly have a long way to go to end federal interference and intimidation once and for all.

    We must not give into complacency or the cynical view that the victims of this week’s raids were “doing something wrong.” We may never know the full story behind the raids. The US Attorney’s offices may or may not prosecute these cases, and if they do, no evidence or testimony about medical cannabis will be allowed in the federal courtroom. But we do know this for certain – until we harmonize federal law with the laws of the states that allow medical cannabis, every patient, grower, and provider is a criminal. That must change before we have the luxury of debating whether or not DEA raids are justified in any given case.

    Americans must speak up in opposition to DEA interference in the Democratic process and the effort to implement and regulate medical cannabis laws. ASA calls on the Obama Administration to end federal raids, allow state and local regulation, and to finally develop a national policy to ensure safe and legal access to medical cannabis for everyone who needs it.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Aggressive Police Actions Taken Against SLO Medical Marijuana Delivery Services

    A Narcotics Task Force (NTF) made up of local and state law enforcement agencies aggressively raided 5 collectively-run San Luis Obispo County medical marijuana delivery services on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday this week, arresting at least 13 people on felony charges and holding them on bails of up to $100,000. Several of those arrested were charged with child endangerment, after Child Protective Services (CPS) removed at least 6 children from the homes of 3 different families. One of the people arrested on Monday suffered a heart attack because of the police raid and was taken to a local emergency room before being arrested. As of Thursday afternoon, at least four people were still in jail unable to raise bail. Read the ASA press release for more information.
  • San Diego Dispensary Operator Sentenced, Advocates Vow to Appeal

    On Wednesday, San Diego Superior Court Judge Howard H. Shore told a crowded courtroom of patient advocates:
    “Medical marijuana is a scam.”

    [caption id="attachment_1101" align="alignleft" width="240" caption="Jovan Jackson (right) and attorney Lance Rogers at Jackson's sentencing"]
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    During his vitriolic rants, Judge Shore found time to sentence Jovan Jackson, a dispensary operator who was recently convicted after being denied a defense at trial. Judge Shore harshly sentenced Jackson to 180 days in jail, and imposed a $5,000 fine and three years of probation, during which time Jackson is prohibited from using marijuana to legally treat his medical condition.

    Unsurprisingly, Judge Shore also denied ASA’s motion for a new trial, based on double jeopardy and the denial of Jackson’s defense. This was the second time Jackson had been tried on the same charges-- the first time he was acquitted. Not satisfied with just skirting double jeopardy laws, San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis fought to exclude Jackson’s defense on the most dubious grounds. Though not written into law, nor part of the 2008 California Attorney General guidelines on medical marijuana, the court held that most or all of Jackson’s patient membership must participate in the cultivation to be afforded a defense.

    Judge Shore’s contempt for medical marijuana could also be seen in other ways than just his bombastic statements from the bench. For example, patients were required to pass through a second metal detector placed directly outside the courtroom, a requirement unique to Jackson’s hearing. And, although there was no jury to influence at Jackson’s sentencing hearing, his supporters were once again prevented from brandishing Americans for Safe Access (ASA) logos on their shirts or bags, as if doing so would injure the court’s sensibilities. Judge Shore had imposed similar restrictions during Jackson’s trial.

    Judge Shore also ignored -- at his own peril -- the recent Los Angeles Superior Court decision and its affirmation of dispensaries’ right to operate in accordance with local and state laws. To make the laws less ambiguous, the LA court recommended more decisive regulations, rather than impeding the efforts of the patient community. Contradicting Judge Shore’s interpretation of state law, the LA court ruled in its unpublished decision that the Medical Marijuana Program Act,
    “does not deal with issues like who must be involved in the cultivation…”

    The irony of San Diego’s failed efforts to adopt a meaningful regulatory ordinance is not lost on the city’s patients. The San Diego City Council has been trying unsuccessfully to pass a local law for months, a law that would license the same activity for which Jackson was just convicted and sentenced. Coincidence? Whether or not foul play can be attributed, the patient community is demanding reasonable regulations to set a standard for the area’s dozens of dispensaries to meet.

    In the meantime, ASA will be appealing Jackson’s conviction and sentencing well before he is scheduled to surrender to authorities on February 1st. ASA will also argue for Jackson’s release on bail pending appeal. Stay tuned for more from San Diego in the fight for safe access.
  • LA Patients Protest County Ban



    Fifty medical cannabis patients and advocates protested in front of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors’ meeting this morning in response to the Board’s 4-1 vote to ban medical cannabis collectives in unincorporated communities. Protesters cheered as motorists honked in support, including one Los Angeles Police Department squad car. Supervisor Michael Antonovich proposed the ban earlier this year, in response to concerns over public safety and a handful of non-permitted collectives in the county.



    The Board voted unanimously to adopt regulations in 2006, but the Regional Planning Commission has never issued a Conditional Use Permit for medical cannabis. Today’s ban is part of a statewide effort by law enforcement and medical cannabis opponents to push back on safe access. Orange County banned collectives at the same time as Los Angeles County, and Supervisors in Riverside County have abandoned plans to repeal the county’s ban. Fresno and Santa Barbara counties may not be far behind.

    Today’s protest in Los Angeles is the first step in what may be a long campaign to change Supervisors’ minds. Americans for safe Access (ASA) and advocates are planning to counter opposition to medical cannabis by keeping the need for regulations on the front burner. They will be speaking at Board meetings, writing elected officials, and visiting county offices to keep the pressure on.  Advocates who wish to help should attend the LA-ASA chapter meeting on Saturday, December 18.

    Read the ASA Press Release for today's protest on the ASA website.
  • CA Supreme Court Denies Law Enforcement Request to Review Landmark Case

    After years of wrangling in the Court of Appeal, medical marijuana patients, on August 18, 2010, obtained a published decision affirming that federal law does not preempt California law regarding medical marijuana collectives.  Dissatisfied with this outcome, numerous law enforcement organizations, including:  five former DEA Administrators, the Drug Free America Foundation, and the California State Sheriff’s Association, along with numerous cities and counties, filed requests for the California Supreme Court grant review and reach an opposite conclusion.  On Thursday, this came to and end, as six of the seven Justices of the California Supreme Court voted to decline review. This denial of review bodes well for medical marijuana patients, as there are now at least four published decisions affirming that federal law does not preempt California’s medical marijuana laws.  This has been an argument made by numerous localities to avoid abiding by California’s medical marijuana laws.  Although this latest decision does not officially put the matter to rest, it signals that the California Supreme Court does not seem to buy the federal preemption argument.  Chalk one up for the patients.