Pages tagged "Raids"


Congress takes historic vote against federal raids

Wednesday night, the House voted on the Rohrabacher-Hinchey-McClintock-Farr amendment, to end the federal crackdown on state-licensed medical marijuana dispensaries. While the amendment failed, it received more votes than a similar bill in 2007 (when Democrats controlled the House). Thank you so much for reaching out to your representatives to support safe access. In less than a week, we generated thousands of phone calls, emails, and tweets urging Congress to adopt the bill. We came close because your voices were heard loud and clear. Make no mistake about it - this vote was a great victory for our movement. 73% of Democrats voted to end President Obama’s policy of cracking down on state-sanctioned medical marijuana dispensaries. 12% of Republicans voted for this bipartisan amendment to the Justice appropriations bill, a significant increase from 2007 - even as pundits say the House has grown more conservative. Your voice counted for so much in the run up to the vote - and it will continue to make a difference. Please take a minute to let your Congressional Representative know how you feel about their vote, yea or nay, using our Online Action Center. Watch your Congressman speak safe access It was an amazing debate. A bipartisan, coast-to-coast group of nine representatives spoke strongly in favor of the amendment, and only one, Frank Wolf (R-VA), spoke against it. You are probably not as much of a C-SPAN junkie as I am, but I want to share with you five great speeches which show what this amendment was all about: protecting safe access to medical cannabis for vulnerable patients. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-CA, spoke of his experience as an Assistant US Attorney, and how scarce resources force federal law enforcement to choose between prosecuting medical cannabis dispensaries or large-scale international drug traffickers. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-CA, spoke for states’ rights and the needs of patients. Rep. Barbara Lee, D-CA, spoke about the crackdowns in her district, including the recent closing of Berkeley Patients Group. Co-sponsor Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) quoted ASA, saying that there have been 170 raids, and praising the therapeutic value of cannabis. And co-sponsor Sam Farr (D-CA), points out that the Republican-controlled House favors states' rights on all issues - except compassionate use. Thanks again for your support, and you can look forward to more state and federal legislation for safe access in the coming months. Don't forget to thank your Representative!

Why we fight for medical cannabis - and how Congress can help us win



One month ago I traveled to California for an event in San Francisco. The morning before the event, I awoke to the news that the Drug Enforcement Administration was raiding Blue Sky, a dispensary in Oakland. It was heartening to see an outpouring of support for medical marijuana patients, but the dispensary was closed down and medicine was seized. The next day I visited a dear friend who is suffering from late-stage cancer, who is too ill to medicate even with a vaporizer. Though in great pain, my friend did not want to use morphine and lose her ability to communicate with the friends and family whom she loves very much.



Thanks to California’s compassionate use law, I was quickly able to meet her caregiver at a dispensary in San Francisco where he safely purchased cannabis edibles recommended by her doctor. Within an hour of taking a medical cannabis lozenge, my friend who hadn’t eaten in three days, sat up and ate like a horse. This sight reminded me why we all fight so hard for safe access. What would I have done if this were my grandmother in Texas, which does not permit compassionate use? How could I have quickly found edibles if the DEA had closed every dispensary in the Bay Area?

When the federal government tries to stop access to medicine, they are trying to undo tens of thousands of hours work that advocates and local governments have put in to creating regulations for safe access to cannabis. The DEA wants to deny patients medicine that can dramatically improve their lives, or reduce their suffering. Without safe access to cannabis, patients and caregivers have to resort to the inconsistency of the illicit market.

That is why Congressmen Dana Rohrabacher, Maurice Hinchey and Sam Farr will introduce a bipartisan amendment to deny funding to DEA raids against dispensaries operating in accordance with state law. This amendment to an Appropriations bill would not legalize marijuana, but would preserve state’s rights to allow compassionate use, and support local government decision-making.

If you do one thing for safe access to medical marijuana this year, make it a phone call to your Representative in support of this important amendment by using our Online Action Center.

My friend is still alive. Marijuana will not reverse the course of her illness, but thanks to high-quality cannabis products, she is alert enough to talk to her friends and family for what may be the last time. Having those precious moments with a dear friend is why I work so hard for all patients. Please join me in asking your Representative to vote Yes on the Rohrabacher-Hinchey-Farr Amendment, to preserve safe access for our friends and loved ones.

Obama (Double) Speaks on Medical Marijuana



 

 

 

 

 

Finally, President Obama has spoken about his aggressive stance toward medical marijuana. Unfortunately, but not unexpectedly, his statements are underwhelming, inaccurate and do nothing to address medical marijuana as a public health issue. In response to a question from Rolling Stone on why his administration is conducting more medical marijuana raids than the Bush administration, President Obama failed to come clean on reasons for the breadth and intensity of the attacks, which significantly escalated since he took office.
What I specifically said was that we were not going to prioritize prosecutions of persons who are using medical marijuana. I never made a commitment that somehow we were going to give carte blanche to large-scale producers and operators of marijuana…

Actually, what Obama said on the campaign trail in 2008 was that he was “not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state [medical marijuana] laws.”

The shell game continued with Obama declaring that, as President, he “can’t ask the Justice Department to…‘ignore…a federal law that’s on the books.’”

In fact, Obama has complete discretion to let local and state authorities enforce their own medical marijuana laws. When affirming that discretionary authority in 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court also questioned the wisdom of going after medical marijuana patients.

Obama then declared that his Justice Department should use “prosecutorial discretion and properly prioritize [its] resources to go after things that are really doing folks damage.”

That, however, seems to beg several questions, not the least of which is “how does one determine what “things” are “really doing folks damage?” Why is that not the purview of local and state officials to enforce? And, is the federal government doing more damage than it’s supposedly preventing? Keep in mind that the damage his administration has inflicted also impacts the fiscal bottom line of local and state governments. In California, dispensary closures precipitated by the federal crackdown have robbed the state of millions of dollars in lost taxes.

The president seems to seek cover with his comment that, “there haven’t been prosecutions” of medical marijuana users. But, even if it was true, and it’s not (all of the more than 60 people indicted on his watch use medical marijuana), this reasoning would still not justify the SWAT-style raids and the fear and intimidation they create. Nor would it justify the purging of lawful medical marijuana businesses from commercial banking institutions, or the IRS requirement that dispensaries pay taxes on gross proceeds, thereby ensuring bankruptcy, or discrimination against patients in public housing and the Veterans Administration.

At the end of the day, whether or not Obama’s Justice Department decides to prosecute whom it considers “wrongdoers,” qualified patients are still being denied a safe and legal means of obtaining their medication.

Even Obama’s “Drug War” excuses don’t match those of his U.S. Attorneys who are directly engaged in the attacks. The president erroneously stated that, “The only tension that’s come up” has been “commercial operations” that may be “supplying recreational users.” However, U.S. Attorneys have made little reference to targeting medical marijuana businesses because they’re allegedly selling to non-patients. The prevailing excuse has been simply that dispensaries are federally illegal or that they are too close to schools and other so-called “sensitive uses” (according to federal standards, not to local or state standards).

Obama’s weakest rationale for continuing the assault on medical marijuana patients is that he “can’t nullify congressional law.” However, the president can realistically do a number of things to address medical marijuana as a public health issue. First of all, Obama could introduce a bill that would carve out an exception for medical marijuana patients and providers. In fact, he doesn’t even have to introduce his own legislation, he could simply throw his weight behind HB 1983, a bill that would do just that. The president could also issue an executive order, not to change federal marijuana statutes but to exclude medical marijuana so as to let the states enforce their own laws.

Additionally, the president, through his executive powers, could also reclassify marijuana from its current status as a Schedule I substance -- a dangerous drug with no medical value. Yet, he and his Drug Enforcement Administration choose not to. In addition to four governors who have filed rescheduling petitions within the last year, Americans for Safe Access has a pending federal lawsuit that seeks reclassification.

At some point, President Obama is going to run out of excuses. Until then, please join ASA in urging him to do the right thing.

Lynching Charlie Lynch - A New Medical Marijuana Documentary



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As we find ourselves, yet again, under attack by the federal government, a new medical marijuana documentary tells the story of a dispensary operator arrested in 2007 by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Five years later, the story of Charles C. Lynch has not died out and, in fact, is more relevant than ever.

Award-winning documentary filmmaker Rick Ray teamed up with Brainstorm Media to release "Lynching Charlie Lynch" this past Friday. A press release issued at the time described the film this way:
Controversial and provocative, Lynching Charlie Lynch explores the conflict between the state-permitted medical marijuana business and Federal drug law in America, and the human cost of the arbitrary and inconsistent application of the law. Through in-depth interviews with experts and advocates across the country and on all sides of the issue, Lynching Charlie Lynch finds many answers, and raises even more questions.

Lynch was one of more than 200 Californians raided by the DEA during President Bush's 8 years in office. Yet, the Obama Justice Department has conducted more than 200 raids in at least 9 medical marijuana states in just 3 1/2 years, far surpassing his predecessor. Despite President Obama's pledge to do otherwise, he's waged an all-out assault on medical marijuana patients, the breadth and intensity of which is unprecedented in this country's history.

President Obama must be made to answer for the stark and harmful contradiction between his medical marijuana policy and his law enforcement practices. Please help keep President Obama accountable and help us pursue a sensible public health policy for medical marijuana.

Obama Pot Justice? Not!



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guest blog by journalist Paul Boerger

Candidate and President Barak Obama promised a more reasoned drug policy, but Dr. Mollie Fry and her husband attorney Dale Schafer are now serving five years in federal prison for conspiracy to cultivate and distribute marijuana. With just over 100 plants collected from their California property by El Dorado County Sheriff’s Deputies, in cooperation with federal drug enforcement, in small amounts over a three year period, the pair qualified for a mandatory minimum five year sentence.

Dr. Fry is a general practitioner and vocal advocate for medical marijuana. She began writing marijuana recommendations after her doctor suggested she try it in conjunction with breast cancer treatments. Operating within the California’s Proposition 215, that legalized medical marijuana, Dr. Fry says she has written over 10,000 recommendations.

The case has dragged on for nearly ten years, with Dr. Fry’s first contact with law enforcement on the case going back to the Bush administration. After entrapment by the Sheriff’s Department and the confiscation of 34 plants in September of 2001, and an additional 66 plants in two additional confiscations over the next two years, the pair were indicted in 2005. Convicted in 2007, largely on the testimony of two informers who were themselves facing drug charges, they were sentenced to five years in prison in 2008. The pair refused a plea bargain on principle, Schafer having to spend a year in prison and the condition that Fry would have to surrender her license to practice medicine. In addition, Dr. Fry refused to allow her husband to go to prison while she remained free. An appeal was denied in November of 2010 and they began serving five year prison sentences on May 2, 2011. Presidential clemency is their last resort.

Certainly, the expectation would be that the Bush administration would relentlessly pursue medical marijuana, but Barack Obama promised a different approach. Senate candidate Obama said, “"I think we need to rethink and decriminalize our marijuana laws." As President, Obama initially directed the Justice Department not raid to medical marijuana dispensaries that are compliance with state law.

And Dr. Mollie Fry is serving five years in federal prison.

The Obama Justice Department has consistently turned a blind eye to far more egregious offenses than marijuana. The complicity of Wall Street financiers in the world economic collapse has been largely ignored or mitigated without criminal charges. Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs and Anthony Mozilo of Countrywide Financial committed financial fraud on a heretofore unheard of scale and were allowed to pay fines instead of facing criminal prosecution and prison sentences. Numerous others, such as Joseph Cassano of AIG and hedge fund manager John Paulson, have gone completely free of any consequences whatsoever.

And Dr. Mollie Fry is serving five years in federal prison.

Obama has also allowed past offenses by the Bush administration to go unpunished. John Yoo, now a legal professor at Berkeley University in California, and Jay Bybee, now a federal judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, wrote the legal justifications for torture under Bush. The Obama Justice Department declined to prosecute. Torture is a crime under US and international law, and the Geneva Convention. Both German and Japanese officers were executed after WWII for authorizing torture of prisoners.

And Dr. Mollie Fry is serving five years in federal prison.

The inconsistencies in the Obama administration’s application of marijuana laws is startling. The case of California medical marijuana dispensary operator James Stacy provides a stark contrast to Fry’s case. Stacy was arrested in 2009 by federal authorities and charged with enough marijuana offenses to net him life in prison. A plea bargain ultimately resulted in three years probation.

And Dr. Mollie Fry is serving five years in federal prison.

Despite Obama’s pronouncements, the jails and prisons overflow with marijuana prisoners and in most states the use of medical marijuana is still illegal. The world economy has been brought down by fraud with no consequences to those who perpetrated it, advocates of torture go free and those convicted of far more serious marijuana offenses get probation.

And Dr. Mollie Fry and her husband Dale Schafer, leaving behind five children and two grandchildren, are serving five years in federal prison.

Dr. Mollie Fry and Dale Schafer turned themselves in to begin serving five year prison sentences on May 2, 2011. Presidential clemency is their last resort. Take action on urging clemency by visiting this site, or for more information on the case, visit this site.

Medical Marijuana Week - Day 4: Protesting the federal crack down nationwide

During Obama’s Presidency, his administration has used a series of familiar and new tactics to interfere with state medical cannabis laws including nearly 200 SWAT-style raids leading to more than 60 indictments, threat letters to landlords and government officials, gross manipulation of the tax code, denying medical cannabis patients the right to bear arms, seizing medical cannabis related bank accounts, and much more. Today, ASA Chapters and affiliates in 9 cities and 6 states rallied outside of federal buildings and other venues across the country to tell Obama that enough is enough.

Steph Sherer, Executive Director of Americans for Safe Access, protested with the San Francisco ASA Chpater in front of his campaign appearance there. She said:
The literal and figurative assault on medical marijuana patients currently underway by the Obama Administration is unprecedented in this country's history, despite hollow proclamations to the contrary.  The intensity and breadth of the attacks has far surpassed anything we saw under the Bush Administration and has resulted in the roll-back of numerous local and state laws.



The Obama Administration has also employed numerous federal agencies, including the DEA, FBI, ATF, VA, and IRS to shut down access to medical marijuana, and cut-off services for, or otherwise discriminate against, literally hundreds of thousands of patients across the country.

Patient advocates in San Francisco and across the country called on Obama to end his attacks on the medical marijuana community and begin to address this issue from a public health standpoint. In addition to keeping his pledge of deprioritizing enforcement, advocates are encouraging Obama to reschedule marijuana for medical use. ASA is currently litigating the rescheduling issue in the D.C. Circuit and has also filed a separate lawsuit challenging the Obama Administration's violation of the Tenth Amendment by derailing state medical marijuana laws.

Medical Marijuana Week - Day 2: Congress can Protect Patients and Safe Access with HR 1983

On May 25, 2011, Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) introduced HR 1983, a bill that in many respects would end the federal government's assault on safe access for patients. Known as the States’ Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act, the legislation would force the executive branch to stop dragging their feet on reclassifying marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act. It would also prevent the federal government from imposing penalties on anyone legitimately participating in a state medical marijuana program. The bill would further prevent the federal government from interfering with state medical marijuana through the Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act. While this fantastic bill was able to attract 21 cosponsors - several of whom signed a letter to Obama in support of HR 1983 - it has since languished after being referred to committee.

The seemingly permanent classification of marijuana in Schedule I has got to be one of the most notable examples of the federal government sticking its head in the sand in recent US history. To keep marijuana under Schedule I, the federal government is literally saying that:

  1. Marijuana has a high potential for abuse.

  2. Marijuana has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.

  3. There is a lack of accepted safety for use of marijuana under medical supervision.

Really? Given that 16 states and the District of Columbia have passed medical marijuana laws, with at least another 16 states considering new legislation, it is patently absurd for the federal government to maintain that marijuana “has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.” Indeed, countless doctors in these states have recommended marijuana as a treatment to their patients because they are confident in its safety and efficacy. In terms of potential for abuse, not a single medical marijuana patient has died as a result of using marijuana for medical purposes. What’s more is that several apparently safe drugs under Schedule III or lower have caused fatalities in patients, such as hydrocodone, vicodon or benzodiazepines. This situation might be laughable if not for all of the patients who must suffer at the mercy of a federal government which refuses to listen to reason and ever-mounting scientific evidence in favor of medical marijuana

Congress should be embarrassed by its failure to protect safe access for patients. For Day 2 of Medical Marijuana Week, ASA is asking you to remind your members of Congress about this absurdity, so please take a moment to call Congress and demand your member’s support for HR 1983.  Americans for Safe Access is moving forward with the decade-long court battle with the federal government to marijuana rescheduling, but passage of HR 1983 would mean the government would have to complete the rescheduling process in 12 months. The election year presents a wonderful opportunity to put pressure on members of Congress, so please take time today to call, demand passage of HR 1983, and remind them that your vote is not to be taken for granted.

ASA Fact Sheet on HR 1983: http://www.safeaccessnow.org/downloads/1983FactSheet.pdf

National Action Alert - Urge Congress to Co-Sponsor HR1983: http://americansforsafeaccess.org/article.php?id=7066

Medical Marijuana Week: http://www.safeaccessnow.org/article.php?id=7061

 

ASA Launches Medical Marijuana Week in Response to 3 Years of Obama's Broken Promises

UPDATE: Click here for today's detailed action alert.

When President Obama was elected in 2008, the medical marijuana community was optimistic that the worst days of federal harassment were finally in the past. After all, he had once said, "I would not have the Justice Department prosecuting and raiding medical marijuana users. It’s not a good use of our resources." This caused patients and those who provide them with safe access to their medicine to be hopeful that the 200-plus medical
marijuana dispensary raids under President Bush would be resigned to being a terrible memory, a dark chapter in America’s past never to be repeated. Hopeful, indeed.

For a brief time, it seemed that Obama’s campaign promises would be followed through upon, with the issuing Holder Memo, which seemed to announce a federal ceasefire in the war on patients. Ultimately, the campaign pledges and Holder Memo turned out to be broken promises, with over 170 SWAT-style raids resulting in at least 61 federal indictments, causing great distress to patients seeking safe access to their medicine. After little more than 3 years in office, Obama is not only on track to surpass two terms worth of Bush raids in just half the time, his Department of Justice has initiated a vicious attack on state sovereignty, designed to destroy the means of safe access patients have come to rely on. Americans for Safe Access is calling on patients, their loved ones, and all concerned citizens to voice their unwillingness to accept Obama’s massive assault against safe access by taking part in Medical Marijuana Week.

Things would be bad enough if the Obama DOJ had merely doubled Bush’s rate of raids, but instead, US Attorneys have escalated hostilities against safe access to include threats to public officials and landlords. Officials in at least ten states have no doubt experienced a chilling effect on their sovereignty after received threatening letters, such as the City Councils for Chico and Eureka California. This past week, Governor Markell of Delaware announced the suspension of the state's recently passed medical marijuana program. Even the US Attorney for Colorado, John Walsh, once considered relatively amicable towards medical marijuana has sent similar threat letters, boldly proclaiming them as “not a bluff.” Americans for Safe Access has filed a 10th Amendment lawsuit against the DOJ for their coercive tactics that have derailed medical marijuana legislation in several states. In a separate federal legal action, ASA has recently filed a brief in its petition against the arbitrary and capricious refusal by the government to reclassify marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act.

Now is the time to tell the White House that enough is enough. Americans for Safe Access is launching Medical Marijuana Week with an action alert to call the White House and demand that Obama end using federal resources to undermine state laws, and stop putting politics before science by acting immediately to reclassify marijuana as medicine. Remind President Obama about his campaign broken campaign promises, because if patients, their loved ones, and concerned citizens do not tell Obama that his medical marijuana policy must change, it will never improve. After calling the White House today, please continue to join ASA’s Medical Marijuana Week actions, culminating in several local rallies on Thursday February 16, 2012, and keep the pressure on Obama until his policy promotes safe access.

ASA's Medical Marijuana Week: http://www.safeaccessnow.org/article.php?id=7061

Action Alert to Call the White House: http://americansforsafeaccess.org/article.php?id=7065

 

 

 

Attorney General Holder Says One Thing While His U.S. Attorneys Do Another



 

 

 

 

 

Yesterday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder answered questions before the House Judiciary Committee on his Justice Department’s handling of the now-famous federal ATF operation, “Fast and Furious.” During the hearing, Rep. Polis (D-CO) asked a series of questions on medical marijuana. Holder responded that the October 2009 Ogden memo de-emphasizing marijuana enforcement in medical marijuana states was still in effect. Specifically, Holder said that, “we will not use our limited resources,” to target people who “are acting in conformity with [state] law.” This seems to equate with the Ogden memo and the pledge that President Obama made before and after taking office. There’s only one (big) problem…the Justice Department is currently on a rampage in medical marijuana states, spending tax dollars like there was no fiscal crisis.

Over the past year, Obama’s Justice Department has spent millions of dollars raiding more than one hundred dispensaries in at least 7 states. Holder’s U.S. Attorneys have also sent threatening letters to public officials in 10 medical marijuana states, attempting to undermine the same laws that Holder purports to respect. In California, U.S. Attorneys are not only using raids to spread fear and intimidation, they are also threatening landlords with criminal prosecution and asset forfeiture if they continue leasing to medical marijuana dispensaries.

In March, the Obama Administration conducted the largest set of coordinated raids on medical marijuana facilities yet. No less than 8 federal agencies, including the DEA, FBI, EPA, ATF, OSHA, IRS, and ICE, worked with 22 local law enforcement agencies to execute 26 search warrants in 13 cities across Montana. A number of people were later indicted and are now dealing with federal prosecutions. At the time of the raids, the Justice Department complained of state law violations, but cases currently under way indicate the opposite.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Thaggard is trying to prevent several defendants from using a state law defense at their federal trial. To be robbed of a defense is a travesty, but unfortunately all too common in federal medical marijuana cases. Thaggard’s comments in an August court filing, however, underscore the hypocrisy of the Justice Department’s policy on medical marijuana:
Montana’s medical marijuana laws have no relevance to the present prosecution…

So, how long will President Obama, Attorney General Holder, and the U.S. Attorneys on a rabid attack against medical marijuana be able to prop up their Orwellian policy of saying one thing and doing another? Only time and a whole lot of pressure will tell.

Washington Raids Indicate Need for State Wide Protection!

Drug Enforcement Agents executed warrants on fifteen medical cannabis access points across the state of Washington last week.  US Attorney Jenny Durkan alleges that the access points were using the state law to conceal criminal activity and money laundering; however, this is only true so long as medical cannabis is illegal on a federal level.  Because of this there will always be room to charge those participating in civil disobedience with illegal activity.  During an interview, Durkan joked, “There’s always more crime than time.”  This statement is indicative of the Department’s mis-prioritized agenda because they chose to pursue the easiest target: a legal state sanctioned medical cannabis dispensary operating above ground to provide for patients in need.



Earlier this year, Governor Christine Gregoire vetoed several provisions of a bill that would have legitimized these access points across the state, bowing to the threats of the Federal Government and US Attorneys.  Despite the fact that access continues to be compromised without the operating of legal distribution centers, the Governor and US Attorney claim that patients are being left alone in this battle: “We will not prosecute truly ill people or their doctors who determine that marijuana is an appropriate medical treatment”.  While the state of Washington is not blatantly arresting and prosecuting patients, it is pursuing them in a much more passive manner by cutting off the access these patients desperately need.  It is hypocritical to say that you support the right to access and use of cannabis by certain qualifying people, but then limit the means by which they acquire it.

Seattle recognized the necessity of cannabis distribution centers, and took the necessary steps to pass a local ordinance providing a regulatory scheme for dispensaries to exist in the locality.  If Washington is truly committed to ensuring that safe and legal access is available to all patients in need, the more localities must follow in Seattle’s footsteps.  Passing such ordinances is a necessary response to the most recent raids we have seen across the state.  Click here to view our Washington Raid Response page to find out how you can take action!