Pages tagged "Raids"


DuffyHoax Revealed - Medical Cannabis Advocates Explain It All


On October 7, 2011, at a press conference in Sacramento, US Attorney Laura Duffy, along with several other US Attorneys, announced a statewide crackdown on medical cannabis cooperatives, collectives, gardens, and others.

Without citing any specific violations in state law, Duffy's office claimed all were out of compliance and would be targeted for eradication including those fully licensed and regulated by local government and law enforcement.

Since this proclamation of war on California’s medical marijuana program, Duffy’s office sent hundreds of letters to landlords threatening asset forfeiture if they did not immediately evict their dispensary tenants. As a result of these backhanded tactics, many landlords were forced to comply. Within six months, Duffy closed over 200 dispensaries in San Diego alone.



These closures forced thousands of employees into unemployment, left hundreds of properties vacant and most importantly, left the 70,000 plus medical marijuana patients in San Diego county wondering where to get their medicine

Duffy’s war did not stop with just closures of collectives and cooperatives. With her next move, she focused on local governments. After learning that advocates had gathered enough signatures to place initiatives to regulate dispensaries on several local ballots in the county, she began threatening council members and city staff with federal prosecution for writing laws to regulate safe access.

This past July, Duffy fired off a threatening letter to the City of Del Mar, as well as sent DEA agents to several council meetings to intimidate lawmakers in person. Duffy's actions, as well as those of other US Attorneys across the state, are in stark contrast to what President Obama and the Department of Justice are saying.

During his election in 2008, Candidate Obama promised he would not use Justice Department resources to target those in compliance with state law, and his administration publicly maintains this position. In addition, as recently as June, Attorney General Eric Holder, Duffy’s boss, testified before Congress that his Justice Department would only undertake enforcement action against medical marijuana organizations operating "out of conformity with state law."

Under President Obama’s Justice Department’s asset forfeiture fund has grown from $500 million in 2003 to $1.8 billion in 2011, with $79 million going directly to California law enforcement agencies.

Since October of last year advocates have worked tirelessly, using traditional means to fight against these attacks and to bring media attention to the issue. Lawsuits have been filed, letter drives organized, petitions signed, protests held, letters to editors written— yet nothing has worked. In fact, in San Diego the attacks seem to be getting worse and it was clear that something more radical had to be done.

How San Diego ASA Got Involved in the Action


San Diego Chapter of Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the nation’s largest medical cannabis advocacy group, working with LGBT activism group Canvass for a Cause, received a letter from the San Diego Museum of Art last month, inviting both groups to participate to participate in The Yes Men’s "Yes Labs" workshop organized by the museum as part of their Summer Salon Series program.

The goal of the workshop as the email explained was, "to identify a concrete, media attention grabbing idea and then figure out an approach towards making it come to fruition."

Upon accepting the invitation, another email from the museum asked San Diego ASA to have at least a few hundred dollars available to turn the project into a reality.

The next email read, "Despite the fact that the museum provides you with The Yes Men, the space, and meals, we do not want this cost to be a deterrent. Therefore, the Museum will contribute $100 in seed money to get you on your way."

The workshop was scheduled for July 23rd and 24th at Agitprop, an art gallery in North Park.

The Workshop


The opportunity to execute an action holding Duffy accountable with help from The Yes Men and with the support of local arts community, could not have come at a more appropriate time. Not only were advocates looking for new summer activities to take on as part of Americans for Safe Access's summer program www.CampWakeUpObama.com, but the first day of the workshop, several members had to miss a part as they were Downtown organizing a protest against Duffy’s attempt to close the sole permitted dispensary in the county.

The workshop began with introductions and an awe inspiring presentation of previous artistic actions organized by ‘The Yes Men’. The day then shifted into group discussions of causes everyone cared about and actions that could be taken right here in San Diego in support of those causes. After a few brainstorming sessions the group reached consensus to focus on the medical cannabis issue first. A plan was hashed out and Tuesday July 31st was set as the day of action. It became clear that through satire and art the chapter would bring attention to Duffy’s reign of terror.

The plan was that a series of satirical press releases would be issued to media first claiming Duffy would target pharmacies for closure using asset forfeiture proceedings, similar to her track record with medical marijuana dispensaries, followed by another press release from Duffy claiming the first was a hoax and the perpetrators would be prosecuted. Then, a fake organization called FAC – the Federal Accountability Coalition would take credit for both satirical releases. Finally, the real advocates behind the project would step forward and claim responsibility in a fourth an final release.

The Day of the Action


On July 31st, a command center was set up in the heart of Hillcrest. The day began at 7:04am with the first press release sent to the media from laura.duffy@usjusticedept.us, an email address chosen to resemble the real Duffy’s but be clearly phony, stating that the US Attorney will be shutting down pharmacies for their high volume of sales of controlled substances, the same rationale used by US Attorneys to close medical cannabis dispensaries.
These pharmacies are not only about providing medicine to the sick. They are part of a pervasive for-profit industry that facilitates the distribution of drugs for illegitimate use. Doctors are prescribing unneeded medication; kids are overdosing on aspirin; police are finding pill bottles at junior high schools. Addiction and abuse of these drugs are serious problems in our communities and parents have come to me with their concerns. These pharmacies have provided not just medication - prescription and otherwise - but all the serious repercussions that come with it, including significant public safety issues and often irreparable harm to our youth.” said Duffy.

At 7:34am, local San Diego CityBeat reporter Dave Maass, tweeted: “I wonder if the real looking press release I got from a fake looking email might be a product of The Yes Men workshop with mmj activists.” (@DaveMaass).

While other media outlets, including the LA Times, were digesting the first release and trying to understand which pharmacies were being targeted, an actor playing "Deputy US Attorney of Narcotics and Logistics, Mr. Shiner" (a name selected randomly) was available by phone to answer questions.

"Yes we are shutting them down," said Shiner while answering one of the calls, "Prosecutorial discretion means Duffy decides how and when to enforce laws."

In the hour following the first release and while "Mr. Shiner" was answering inquiries from media, several Cease and Desist notices were posted by actors at five pharmacies in town. Although the fake press release said twenty locations were being targeted, only five actual notices were posted on the front doors of pharmacies.laura.duffy@us-doj-gov.us claiming the first release was a hoax and that the perpetrators would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Analogous to the first release, the second had a spokesperson as well. This time, it was an actor playing Mr. Steven T. Fredrickson (another randomly chosen name). "Mr. Fredrickson" answered calls and email from media outlets and discussed the strict enforcement action he was planning on taking against the perpetrators of the first release. "They will be thoroughly punished,” he told reporters "we will be issuing another statement in the near future."

Shortly after the second release was sent out, the real Laura Duffy scheduled a press conference for 11:00am to discuss the fake releases. Meanwhile, Shiner's and Fredrickson's phones were ringing off the hook, with reporters trying to figure out who was behind the hoax.

Although not planned for, Duffy’s press conference spurred the idea of sending an actor to deliver the third release directly to the media gathered at the press conference.

Duffy stood outside the federal courthouse in front of a dozen cameras grumbling about the fake releases. Interrupting her speech, the actor walked up to the media and said, "Laura Duffy is a Benedict Arnold, nothing but a Benedict Arnold!" and passed out the third release, in which the Federal Accountability Coalition claimed responsibility.

This third release scolded Duffy for her wasteful attack on state’s rights, as well as insubordination of federal government, President Obama, and attorney general Holder. The release criticized her insubordination, raised concerns of her rogue efforts, and raised fears of Duffy targeting farmers' markets and people’s right to bear arms next. The statements in the release were so sensational that even more media attention was brought to the action as a result.

Once all copies of the release were handed out, he walked away, the media following him for several blocks. The mere presence of FAC caused all the cameras to shift focus away from Duffy and to the actor, as a result entirely spoiling her press conference.

After the third release went out, an actor playing Dexter Haight (another randomly chosen name) took calls and answered reporters' questions.

By this time, there were already multiple articles online about the hoax and the action was taking over local news coverage for the day. Various news outlets were running stories about the action, some of them mixing up real quotes from Duffy with quotes from fake releases, and all of them focusing on this organization called FAC.

The FAC had not only an email and phone number, but, to appear credible, there was also a website, a Facebook page, a Twitter account and a YouTube Account, which were all getting a lot of traffic. The website and FAC press release included links to a video where Dexter Haight claimed responsibility for the hoax on camera.

The Youtube page had interviews with various people, including a pharmacist, a CVS store manager, and a patient who supposedly patronized the stores shut down by Duffy’s actions. As the actor playing Dexter was fielding dozens of calls and emails from media about the hoax, it became clear that the best way to finish off the day was for FAC to hold a press conference at which the full reveal would take place. FAC then announced that a press conference would be held at the Veterans Museum in Balboa Park at 2pm that day to discuss all the details of the hoax.

The media showed up in full force. There were multiple cameras, photographers, and a stand with microphones. The press conference started promptly at 2pm with the actor playing Dexter Haight coming up to the stand and announcing, “My name is Dexter Haight, I am with the Federal Accountability Coalition. I am here to announce that my name is not Dexter Haight, I am an actor.” After Dexter spoke, advocates took the stage and discussed in detail the horrors of Duffy’s actions and why they had gone to such great lengths to bring this issue to light.

Just as this final press conference began, the 4th and final press release was sent out, explaining that medical cannabis activists were behind the hoax.
"Just as the closure of retail pharmacies, like CVS or Walgreens, is poor public health policy, so is the federal government’s crackdown on medical cannabis dispensaries," said Eugene Davidovich of San Diego ASA. "Pharmacies, like medical cannabis dispensaries, play an essential role in our communities as they help the sick and dying treat and manage various medical conditions," continued Davidovich. "Laura Duffy and the Obama Administration have no place interfering in the implementation of state law by shutting down dispensaries that thousands of patients rely on."

Since the final release, multiple articles have been published by various news outlets covering the action as well as Duffy’s response. Duffy, however, instead of considering changing her stance on cannabis, has since threatened jail time for those she calls "the hoaxers" and has announced to the media that the FBI has been brought in to investigate; more waste of taxpayer dollars and another boneheaded move by Duffy’s office.

With this action and other actions that took place that week throughout the state, Duffy and other US Attorneys are on notice that any person who interferes with medical cannabis patients and/or providers will continue to be subject to coordinated grassroots response by the public at large, in local and national forums.

It is time to end this war on patients, let science lead public policy, and allow states to protect their most vulnerable citizens.

The San Diego Chapter of Americans for Safe Access would like to extend a thank you to all the advocates who took part in this wildly successful expression of art and satire, with a special thank you to Canvass for a Cause, The Yes Men, Agitprop and the San Diego Museum of Art for making this action possible.

More Information


San Diego Chapter of ASA - www.SafeAccessSD.org

Canvass for a Cause - www.canvassforacause.org

Eugene Davidovich is a Steering Committee Member of the San Diego Chapter of Americans for Safe Access.

Report: Federal asset forfeiture fund balloons while oversight is lacking

On the heels of introduction of HR 6335, the States’ Medical Marijuana Property Right Protection Act, by Barbara Lee (D-CA) in Congress last week, safe access advocates might want to take a look at the Government Accountability Office (GAO) July 12, 2012 report on the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Asset Forfeiture Fund (AFF). What the GAO discovered is that the Department of Justice has expended over $1 billion for the past several years on forfeiture, but reporting data remains elusive for Congressional oversight and public scrutiny.

For those unfamiliar with the AFF and how it pertains to medical cannabis, check out some of ASA’s earlier work on this topic. But even those who have been following this issue may be interested to know that the AFF has 3 goals:

  1. to punish and deter criminal activity;

  2. to enhance cooperation among federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies “through the equitable sharing of assets recovered through this Fund;” and

  3. to produce revenues in support of future law enforcement investigations and related forfeiture activities.


To connect the dots for how this relates to medical cannabis, the DOJ is using civil forfeiture (and thereby sidestepping Constitutional protections provided to criminal defendants) to seize property that is associated with legal activity authorized by state and local law, in an effort enhance cooperation with with law enforcement agencies that permit the activity in question. So the only practical purpose the AFF has when applied to medical cannabis dispensary properties is to secure revenue for other DOJ projects.

Costs obscured by lousy reporting and lack of oversight

The cost of how much the DOJ spends in this utterly absurd effort is obscured by the lousy reporting process has for outside oversight. The GOA specifically recommended that “provide more detailed information to Congress as part of the AFF's annual budget process, clearly documenting how DOJ determines” key data. The reason for this is that the reporting data does not appear to have breakdowns for civil and criminal forfeiture, merely some anecdotal examples. However, by checking the tables that are provided, on can see that the AFF revenue has increased nearly 350% since 2003, from $500 million in 2003, to $1.8 billion in 2011. Perhaps more disturbing is the amount of money that it costs the DOJ to run the AFF. Since 2007, expenditures on the AFF have exclipsed a billion dollars each year, reaching a high of $1.3 billion in 2011.

This is one of many areas where the Obama Administration has fallen asleep when it comes to respecting the rights and dignity of medical cannabis patients, caregivers and providers. In addition to illuminating the AFF reporting process, the DOJ is also embarrassing the United States every day by maintaining marijuana in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, asserting that marijuana has no medical value. This lack of transparency and respect is precisely why Congress should give HR 6335 full hearings.

Mike Liszewski is ASA's Policy Director.

Wake Up Obama: Cannabis Patients Vote!

This is a photo of me at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. I had just heard one of the most politically motivating speeches of my life from a candidate for president. I was moved to tears, joyous, and inspired. This candidate not only filled me with hope about the future of our nation, but said he would not interfere with access to legal medical cannabis.

I was ecstatic to be shedding the dark days of the Bush Administration's war on medical cannabis patients. As a patient myself, I felt counted and part of the Change that would be coming to Washington, and I was proud to support and volunteer for Barack Obama's victorious campaign.

For his 2008 campaign, I donated money, I went to rallies to show support, I knocked on doors in VA,  and on election night I joined thousands in D.C. who descended on the White House to celebrate and sing "Na, Na, Na, Na, Good bye" to President Bush. I went to sleep that night excited about a new direction for this country that would include me as a recognized medical cannabis patient.

From the beginning, the new administration made supportive statements about medical cannabis, including that the President was "not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws." On October 19, 2009, we got the policy document we had been waiting for. Then-Deputy Attorney General David Ogden issued a memorandum, now know as the "Ogden Memo," instructing U.S. attorneys to limit marijuana enforcement to those operating out of compliance with state law.

With this legal guidance, the medical cannabis movement went to work to pass new state laws protecting patients and those who provided their medication. Advocates, community members, and officials spent thousands of hours drafting legislation and regulations in at least eleven states. But when legislators and other state and local officials came close to passing or implementing these laws, they received letters from U.S. attorneys, threatening federal arrest and prosecution.

Dismayed by this apparent reversal in the Obama Administration's policy, patients demanded the President rein in the US Attorneys. Instead we got the "Cole Memo," issued by Deputy Attorney General James Cole, laying out a new interpretation of the Obama Administration's policy. The memo gave the Justice Department free rein in medical cannabis states, to undermine state laws and coerce local lawmakers. The Cole Memo launched an unprecedented attack on the medical cannabis community unprecedented in its scope.

In fewer then fours years of President Obama, we have seen more raids on dispensaries than during the Bush Administration's entire eight-year tenure. The Obama Administration has taken property from landlords, threatened local officials, forced the release of patient records, used the Internal Revenue Service to bankrupt legitimate dispensaries, told banks to purge medical cannabis clients, evicted patients from low-income housing, and denied a petition to recognize the well-established medical value of cannabis.

Now as President Obama approaches the vote on his reelection, I and other medical cannabis patients are finding it impossible to renew our support. How can I vote for someone who has broken his promise? How can I vote for someone who can't see very real public health needs? How can I vote for someone who wages war on my fellow patients and me?

There are more than one million legal medical cannabis patients across the country and millions more waiting to become legal. We have friends and family in every state, and there are many of us in states that are key to the Obama reelection campaign: Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico.

I care a lot about this country and my fellow Americans, and I have always volunteered for candidates during election years. Now, instead of going to rallies or buying tickets to fundraisers, I will be protesting at campaign stops like the one today in downtown Oakland. Instead of working to elect a president, I'll be joining thousands of medical cannabis advocates at Camp Wakeupobama, a virtual summer camp during which we will press our case to the President.

President Obama, you can move medical cannabis policy forward and win this election - 74% of voters disagree with your attacks on state compassionate use laws.

Medical cannabis patients will be on the campaign trail, however you can still determine what our signs will say.

Activist Journalist arrested in Oaksterdam raid to be arraigned

On April 2, 2012 Jose Alacran Gutierrez was among the throng of protesters and journalists that captured the federal raid on Richard Lee’s Oaksterdam University and Coffee Shop Blue Sky. A veteran Bay Area beat reporter for Pacifica Radio - KPFA’s La Onda Bajita and the nationally syndicated Flashpoints shows, as well as a longtime medical cannabis activist, Mr. Gutierrez was caught up in the raid as it unfolded outside Coffee Shop Blue Sky and brutally arrested by federal agent. He was charges with one federal felony count of forcible assault on a federal officer. He could be facing up to 8 years in prison.

Over the last decade, hundreds of raids have been conducted where local law enforcement has been used for crowd control, which makes the use of Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and The United States Marshals in the April 2nd raid, an unusual show of force on the part of the federal government.

Suspicious Arrest

In addition to their aggressive crowd control tactics, the federal agents busted a window of the premises scattering glass and pushing the activists away from the main door. From the Live Stream there is clear audio and video of activists and spectators identifying which officers started the altercations. The jostling of cameras, phones, and equipment can be heard and seen as federal agents’ renter Coffee Shop Blue Sky. In a matter of seconds, Mr. Gutierrez is being accosted and held down on the ground by at least five federal agents. A shameless expression of pride and shock on his face, as he is lead to the patrol car that activists have blocked with their bodies. Others banged on the car windows after they shove him in, chanting and screaming, “Let him go! Let him go!!!”

This went on relentlessly as federal agents escorted the unmarked car down the street. Oaklanders watched and recorded the incident in appalling disbelief at the overwhelming act of aggression by the federal agents. The Oscar Grant Case, which originated in Oakland, taught its residents to pull out their cameras when witnessing police aggression. Since there were many witnesses (with recording capability ) to Mr. Gutierrez’s incident most of them have video or still footage leading his defense team to ask the public to post on YouTube in order for the whole truth to be told and the charges dropped. From this footage, it is obvious to the viewer that Mr. Gutierrez suffered injuries that sent him to the hospital due to the five or so agents rushing to subdue his alleged assault.

Out of the three arrests made that day, only Jose Gutierrez was taken into Federal custody. Two activists that were arrested by Oakland Police during the Oaksterdam Raid were released and the Alameda County District Attorney’s office filed no charges.

Blurred Lines of Activism versus Journalism

For over twenty years, Jose Alacran Gutierrez has been a leftist leaning political radio correspondent giving a voice to the Chicano and cannabis communities. In regards to sensitive controversial issues like the legalization of medical cannabis, Pacifica Radio reporters and programmers are given an opportunity like no other in journalism, to actively participate in the causes, organizations, and struggles of the communities they represent. These stories usually fall outside the corporate media model. By following the stories from the Humboldt Hills to East Oakland where houses and beyond staying on the beat of the cannabis legalization movement, Jose Alacran Gutierrez has been a catalyst for the dissemination of vital information to these communities.

We must remember, throughout history oppressive governments have used beatings and arrests to suppress the will of the people. Ghandi was beaten and arrested. Malcolm X was beaten and arrested. Martin Luther King was beaten and arrested. More people are going to be beaten and arrested, but how many more will be marginalized? When members of the Department of Justice are taking these extreme actions, like aggressively subduing journalists, closing educational facilities like Oaksterdam, and raiding permitted dispensaries, someone has to ask, when will enough be enough? These are important questions that need to be answered not only by the people that have the power to conduct these raids and stop them, but also by those of us who have the power to speak out against blatant injustices that are happening on a regular basis in the medicinal cannabis community and beyond.

Show support in federal court

Jose will be back in Federal Court on July 13th, 2012 at 9:30am, 1301 Clay Street in Oakland, 3rd Floor, Room 4. His case will be heard once again by Judge Donna Ryu. Court support is appreciated; bring valid identification, and do not bring anything you that you would not want x-rayed or otherwise examined by federal police.

Sabrina Jacobs is a journalist.

Medical Cannabis News

News from around the nation about medical cannabis.

Democratic Party grassroots break with Obama on cannabis

In a sign that the Obama Administration’s tough line on state medical cannabis laws is out of touch with his grassroots support, local Democratic Party organizations are formally endorsing medical marijuana laws - and even legalization.

The North Carolina Democratic Party is formally in support of a compassionate use law in this key swing state. At the state’s June 16th convention, party officials adopted a resolution (PDF) titled, In Support of Legalizing Medical Marijuana in North Carolina. The state party also adopted a resolution in favor of industrial hemp growing.

In California, the Democratic Central Committees of San Francisco and Alameda Counties, whose combined population is over two million, passed resolutions condemning federal government raids on local dispensaries. In addition to these statements from Democratic organizations in favor of medical cannabis, the Texas, Colorado, and Washington State Democratic Parties have adopted marijuana decriminalization or legalization resolutions.

With the American electorate almost evenly split between Republicans and Democrats, President Obama needs the full support of Democratics to win reelection. Will grassroots opposition to the administration policy toward medical cannabis split the party? As national Democrats prepare to convene in September, we will watch for new developments.

Jonathan Bair is ASA's Social Media Coordinator, as well as an officer of his local Democratic Club.

DEA’s Leonhart says “We will look at any options for reducing drug addiction,” but what about medical marijuana?



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Administrator Michele Leonhart has created quite a controversy with her comments on medical marijuana made last Wednesday during a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) House oversight hearing. From her bumbling response to Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) on the issue of addiction and comparing medical marijuana to the harmful effects of other Schedule I substances like heroin or methamphetamine, to her commonsense response to Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) on leaving the question of medical marijuana treatment, “between [a patient] and his doctor,” Leonhart illustrated her illogical approach to medical marijuana as a public health issue.

Notably, toward the end of Rep. Polis’s examination, he asked Leonhart if she was “willing to look at the use of medical marijuana as a way of reducing abuse of prescription drugs,” given that reducing prescription drug abuse is the DEA’s top priority. Leonhart candidly responded:
We will look at any options for reducing drug addiction.

Well, Administrator Leonhart, you’re in luck. There is indeed evidence that shows patients using medical marijuana to reduce or eliminate their addictive and often-harmful pharmaceutical drug regimen.

Just this month, eminent medical marijuana researcher Philippe Lucas, M.A. published an article in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs called, “Cannabis as an Adjunct to or Substitute for Opiates in the Treatment of Chronic Pain.” According to Lucas, “Evidence is growing that cannabis [medical marijuana] can be an effective treatment for chronic pain, presenting a safe and viable alternative or adjunct to pharmaceutical opiates.”

As if directly addressing Leonhart’s statement to Rep. Polis, and her concern over prioritizing prescription drug addiction, Lucas notes that:
Addiction to pharmaceutical opiates has been noted by the medical community as one of the common side-effects of extended use by patients (such as those suffering from chronic pain), and a growing body of research suggests that some of the biological actions of cannabis and cannabinoids may be useful in reducing this dependence.

Lucas further argues that, “[R]esearch on substitution effect suggests that cannabis may be effective in reducing the use and dependence of other substances of abuse such as illicit opiates, stimulants and alcohol.”
As such, there is reason to believe that a strategy aiming to maximize the therapeutic potential benefits of both cannabis and pharmaceutical cannabinoids by expanding their availability and use could potentially lead to a reduction in the prescription use of opiates, as well as other potentially dangerous pharmaceutical analgesics, licit and illicit substances, and thus a reduction in associated harms.

Another article on the effects of medical marijuana “substitution” was published in December 2009 by the Harm Reduction Journal. Researcher Amanda Reiman MSW, PhD notes that medical marijuana patients have long been engaging in substitution by using it as an alternative to alcohol, prescription and illicit drugs. In a study Reiman conducted with 350 medical marijuana patients, she found that 40 percent reported using medical marijuana as a substitute for alcohol, twenty-six percent reported using it as a substitute for illicit drugs, and nearly 66 percent use it as a substitute for prescription drugs.
[S]ixty five percent reported using cannabis as a substitute because it has less adverse side effects than alcohol, illicit or prescription drugs, 34% use it as a substitute because it has less withdrawal potential…57.4% use it as a substitute because cannabis provides better symptom management.

If Leonhart is serious about combating prescription drug abuse, she should heed the conclusions of researchers like Lucas and Reiman and pay attention to the evidence. Answers to two important public health concerns -- medical marijuana and prescription drug abuse -- lie at her feet waiting to be addressed.

Closing Dispensaries Harms Patients: Rally for Safe Access in Sacramento!

Since last fall, many of California's dispensaries have been forced to close their doors due to the Justice Department's crackdown on medical cannabis. This unfortunate situation worsened last week as we witnessed two dispensaries in California face DEA raids: G3 Holistic in Upland and El Camino Wellness in Sacramento.

Statewide, patients are concerned over the loss of their dispensaries and are asking loud and clear, "Where will we get our medicine?"

Imagine a patient who, in their lifetime, has never been exposed to the culture or experiences of cannabis. They’ve never called a friend for an 1/8th or contemplated what clones to plant for a new season. One doctor’s visit can change a life - and now this person is faced with a laundry list of decisions, one of them likely relating to medical cannabis.

Patient #2 lives in an apartment and for their own laundry list of reasons is not able to cultivate. Either they are not home enough to nurture and protect that endeavor. Or maybe they have a black thumb or the inability to balance pets, children and cultivation.

Patient #3 has spent two weeks in the hospital, 1 of them in intensive care. Released to go home with severe restrictions, a family member has filled the patient’s prescriptions, gathered groceries and transports the patient back home for recovery. Or maybe even end-of-life care. The caregiver doesn't have the expertise, and the patient doesn't have the time, to wait months to harvest medicine for palliative care.

Dispensaries provide a logical answer for getting medical cannabis into the hands of those with a valid recommendation.

Dispensaries give patients the respect of being able to obtain their medicine in a safe, accountable and professional environment rather than endure risky encounters with strangers. Patients are sick and tired and they want to avoid all of the obstacles between them and their medicine. Patients also want to be treated with respect, not like criminals. Many patients have unique needs, and want a variety of choices of cannabis strains and means of delivery.

Join other patients and concerned citizens coming out in protest over the DEA actions against our state's medical cannabis program.

Hundreds of dispensaries across the state have closed down while many more face threat of closure. Closing dispensaries hurts patients. The time to stand up for patients' rights is now!

What: Rally to protest the June 11th DEA raid on El Camino Wellness Center and widespread federal intimidation
When: Wednesday, June 20th at 1:30pm
Where: Federal Courthouse, 501 I Street, Sacramento


Wear sunscreen and a hat, bring water and make signs of protest. Use talking points like:


DEA Closes Legal Dispensaries
Closing Collectives Hurts Patients
Respect CA State Laws


Courtney Sheats is ASA’s Sacramento Community Liason.

Medical Marijuana Reading - June 11th 2012

Catch up on the latest news about medical marijuana throughout the county.
  • Feds Attack California’s Medical Marijuana Trade - Again (Reuters)
  • Mass. Medical Marijuana Opponents Mobilize Efforts (Bloomberg)
  • Report: Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Not Linked to Neighborhood Crime (US News and World Report)
  • Cedars-Sinai Again Denies Transplant to Medical Marijuana Patient (Opposing Views)
  • DEA Raids Sacramento Pot Shop (SacBee)
  • New blog by Hearst Media - Smell the Truth.

San Francisco: Why I'm Attending the CA Unity Conference

Note from Steph: The conference agenda has been posted online. I can't wait to see you in Sacramento!

Why am I attending the California Unity Conference? Because the federal government continues to undermine state and local medical marijuana laws - resulting in the closure of some of San Francisco’s oldest and best-regulated dispensing collectives, and scaring patients who fear reprisal from law enforcement just for using their medicine. We are being put to the ultimate test to see whether or not our community has the strength and adversity to protect and defend safe access. Right now, support from our elected representatives is jeopardized because of misinformation being spread by our opponents. We must stop these attacks on medical cannabis and take back the momentum for patients.

How do we stop this? By informing legislators of the facts. The truth is that regulated dispensaries benefit communities by providing access for the most seriously ill and injured, and reduce crime in the vicinity when well-regulated. The use of medical marijuana under the care and supervision of a licensed medical professional consistently carries 80% support in nation-wide polling, but only small minority have actually taken action. Our opponents are a well-funded, very vocal minority. So we need our majority of supporters to be very vocal! That means all of you!

Are you ready for this fight? I am. Join hundreds of medical cannabis patients and advocates for the California Unity Conference in Sacramento May 19-21, to shape the state’s medical cannabis laws during this legislative cycle and beyond, and learn how to create successful pro-patient actions in your community.

Why do we fight? Because all patients deserve safe access to medicine. No matter where you live in California, or in the USA, ASA works tirelessly to implement common-sense regulations that will allow safe access for patients. Discrimination of medical cannabis patients must stop now: they deserve same rights as any other patient. So let’s tell our state reps to stop spreading lies and playing politics with patients’ lives.

I've watched other causes succeed with less support. I know we can win this; but it will take a large number of people. We've already seen what we can accomplish with our SF United Campaign. On April 3rd, we rallied over 600 people on the steps of San Francisco City Hall to save safe access. We managed to get a statement from the mayor, we helped the San Francisco Democratic Party adopt a resolution, and we confronted and got a statement from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) condemning the escalated attacks on state-compliant medical marijuana businesses. Now envision thousands of medical cannabis supporters descending on the State Capitol. Can you imagine the impact that will have?

Be a part of winning this fight - join us this weekend!

Tony Bowles is a Core Member of the San Francisco Chapter of ASA. He was a plaintiff in ASA’s successful lawsuit against the California Highway Patrol.