Pages tagged "Raids"


Medical Marijuana Providers Call on State to Protect Tax Revenue

Yesterday, I joined advocates and providers in Sacramento to call on the State Board of Equalization to protect an important source of revenue - $100 million in sales tax collected annually by medical marijuana dispensaries. After waiting through half a dozen unrelated tax cases to be heard before the board, I testified, explaining how this tax revenue is in danger, due to increased federal interference in the state medical marijuana program. In 2007 alone, the DEA raided more than 50 medical marijuana providers, and they embarked on a new strategy, sending more than 300 letters to landlords of dispensaries, threatening property owners with criminal prosecution and asset forfeiture. I also described reactions from elected officials - ranging from a statement by US House Judiciary Committee Chair John Conyers questioning the DEA's tactics to State Senator Carole Migden's introduction of SJR 20, which calls for an end to federal interference and urging Congress and the President to establish policy consistent with the compassionate use laws of California. I concluded my comments with a plea that would be echoed by all of the following advocates, asking the BOE to work with the Governor and state legislature to protect this source of state revenue, which has become increasingly vital to our state's fiscal health in the face of budget cuts to important state programs. Dale Gieringer of CA NORML spoke next, highlighting the amount of sales tax and income tax dispensaries contribute. He also discussed the problem of the DEA seizing assets from dispensaries. For example, the "Compassion Center for Alameda County paid $3 million in sales taxes before it was closed by the DEA on October 30th. In the process of seizing CCAC's bank account, the DEA stopped a $348,078.49 bank transfer to the Board of Equalization, which the CCAC had transmitted just before the raid." Next, half a dozen current and former dispensary operators spoke about their experiences of DEA harassment. Lisa Sawoya, former director of Hollywood Compassionate Care in Los Angeles, explained that she had gladly paid sales tax to the state. But in July of 2007, her landlord - who had previously been very supportive - received a threatening letter from the DEA. Sawoya agreed to shut down the dispensary at the end of July, and her landlord subsequently called the DEA to tell them of the agreement. Then, on July 25th - days before she was set to close - eight DEA agents stormed into the dispensary, holding guns to employees heads, and seizing all of the money and medicine at the facility. Bill Pearce, former director of River City Patients' Center in Sacramento, explained that he too had willingly paid taxes - to the the tune of $700K over three years to the BOE and another $250K to the IRS and Franchise Tax Board. When the DEA raided him on September 26, 2007, they seized all of his assets, leaving him with nothing to support himself and his family, let alone to pay his legal bills. Four other dispensary operators from Berkeley, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and Santa Rosa, told their stories of DEA harassment, and explained that though they continue operating their dispensaries, they live in fear. Their landlords could evict them at a moment's notice, or worse, the DEA could raid them, seize their assets, and they could face federal charges. All of the BOE members seemed to listen closely, and I could hear exclamations from those seated in the audience who had not been aware of this dire situation. After we spoke, BOE Member Betty Yee addressed the Board, conveying the sense of responsibility and obligation she felt on this issue. She expressed her concern, not only for the tax revenue generated by dispensaries, but also for the patients who depend on these facilities for access to their medicine. She urged the BOE to work with state officials to ensure protection of dispensaries from DEA attacks, echoing the statements she made in a recent opinion piece co-authored by Senator Migden. I left the meeting feeling that we had been listened to and that the BOE may take further steps to protect our community.

California Weekly Round Up

Judge's Decision Keeps Cathedral City Dispensary Open This week, U.S. District Court Judge Stephen G. Larson ruled that the Cathedral City cannot use Federal law to shut down the Essential Herbs and Oils dispensary.  Cathedral City had requested that the U.S. District Court Judge issue an injunction. Judge Larson's decision said that he found no precedent allowing him to shut the dispensary down.   This decision is an important victory for safe access in the region. Despite this important victory, the dispensary remains under attack in Cathedral City. The city is now fighting to revoke Essential Herbs and Oils' business license and they also recently received an eviction notice.  ASA will keep you updated on the dispensary as news comes in. Read more about Judge Larson's decision  and the recent attacks  as reported in the Mercury News and the Desert Sun. Dispensary Operator Sues Modesto for Conspiring with the DEA On Thursday, former California Healthcare Collective Operator Luke Scarmazzo filed a lawsuit against the city of Modesto for conspiring with the federal government to shut down his dispensary.  Assisted by local police, the DEA raided California Healthcare Collective in September 2006. Scarmazzo is suing the city for emotional distress, mental anguish, and loss of employment. The September 2006 raid occurred five days after the city had realized that they could not shut the dispensary down. For more information on the lawsuit read the Modesto Bee article. Sacramento ASA Leader Questions Gov. Schwarzenegger About Medical Cannabis From Sacramento ASA's Lanette Davies "As most of you already know I had the opportunity Wednesday to meet Governor Schwarzenegger at Mimi's cafe while he was promoting "redistricting."  I was invited by the League of Women Voters to attend and was sitting with our state President of the league when the governor came to our table to shake hands, while being filmed and recorded by a score of press and TV reporters. This gave me the opportunity while on camera to ask him directly about how he feels about protecting the medical marijuana patients of California and I asked how he feels about the use of cannabis by patients. He stated, " support medical marijuana and the patients of our state." I then informed him that we have legislation right now in the California Assembly  and the Senate that will protect the patients and we need his support. He then stated  he was not aware of the new legislation however, he promised to take the time to review the bills as he definitely is interested in protecting the patients. He asked for my business card so his staff can call my office to get further information. Later, when he came back by I asked for a picture as I was wearing my nice Stop Arresting Medical Marijuana Patients button and both the Governor and the Secretary of State took their picture with me. The picture was taken by the League of Women Voters and they requested use of it in their website. They also said they will email me a copy of the picture. It was a good day for us!" DEA Raids Orange County Dispensary On Tuesday, DEA agents raided Natures Wellness Collective in Orange, California. ASA received reports of the raid after it had occurred.  According to an unconfirmed eyewitness there were no arrests made. If you have information about the Natures Wellness Collective raid please e-mail Sonnet@AmericansforSafeAccess.org Sign up for ASA's Emergency Response Text Messaging System to receive instant alerts about raids in your area. Visit www.AmericansforSafeAccess.org/RaidAlerts

Riding the Medical Marijuana Roller Coaster

OK, the title of this post might be a bit misleading. I haven't ridden any medical marijuana themed rides lately, but many of us have been riding a political and legal roller coaster. Here are some of the ups and downs our movement has experienced recently: Sometimes this work is dizzying, and I only scratched the surface of all the conundrums we face...

Showing Schwarzenegger the Way

This morning, the San Francisco Chronicle published an op-ed piece authored by California Senator Carole Migden and Board of Equalization Chairwoman Betty Yee decrying the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) crack down on medical cannabis and the impact it has on property owners, state coffers, and legal patients. The letter urges the federal government to “back off and respect state compassionate use laws that authorize a network of responsible, law abiding and tax-paying medical marijuana providers.” This is a far cry from the usually sensationalized rhetoric to which we are more accustomed, and is a breath of fresh air – and common sense – for patients and their loved ones statewide. Senator Migden introduced Senate Joint Resolution 20 into the State Legislature this month calling for an end to the federal interference that she says costs the state millions of dollars in lost revenue, forces medical cannabis providers underground, and harms legal patients. If adopted, the resolution will send the strong message to Washington, DC, that California lawmakers remain committed to fully implementing the 1996 voter initiative that legalized medical cannabis in the state and to ending federal persecution of patients and providers. Board of Equalization Chairwoman Betty Yee joined the Senator in criticizing the impact the DEA raids, saying that federal interference and intimidation cost the state millions of dollars in lost tax revenue and badly needed jobs. As Chairwoman of the elected body charged with assessing and collecting sales tax for the cash-strapped state, Yee has a special interest seeing to it that medical cannabis facilities remain open and pay their fair share. She worries, however, that providers will be forced to close their doors or move underground to avoid federal attacks – a very real concern. The significance of having a State Senator and the Chairwoman of the Board of Equalization speak out on behalf of medical cannabis should not be missed. Elected officials are just now feeling the hardship caused by DEA interference – which escalated to new heights last year with more than 50 raids, several indictments, and more than 300 letters threatening property owners who rent to medical cannabis facilities with prosecution and civil asset forfeiture. US House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers is finally getting some high-level support for his stance against the DEA tactics and promised investigation. The op-ed piece was timely, appearing in Migden and Yee’s hometown paper on the same day the ASA Chief of Staff Rebecca Saltzman, Legal Director Kris Heremes, and I met for the first time with representatives from Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s’ office to discuss federal interference and what the Governor can do to help. It is too soon to know if the Governor will take visible action in response to ASA’s grassroots campaign, but Senator Migden and Chairwoman Yee are certainly pointing him in the right direction. With today’s op-ed, these two leaders join police veteran and Los Angeles City Councilmember Dennis Zine, Orange County Supervisor Chris Norby, Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums, Santa Cruz Mayor Ryan Coonerty, and thousands of medical cannabis advocates in calling on the Governor to defend patients’ access and the will of voters. We may be approaching a sea change in the state and federal debate over medical cannabis, but what happens from here depends on whether or not grassroots advocates can persuade the Governor and Legislature to put their considerable clout behind Representative Conyers’ effort to stop DEA interference in California. Local and state leaders should stand up… and the Governor should lead the way.

Is Newsom Waiting Until the Feds Come Knocking in San Francisco?

It was interesting today to see three local newspapers (SF Chronicle, Associated Press, and Bay Area Reporter) cover the issue of Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) interference in California's medical marijuana law and its impact on San Francisco dispensaries. No less than seven of the twenty-eight operating facilities are shutting down or have already closed due to fearful landlords. The closures are in direct response to threats of asset forfeiture and criminal prosecution the DEA has made to more than 300 landlords across California. This cynical tactic, unveiled by the DEA in July 2007 in southern California, was opposed by the Los Angeles Times and has also met with significant political opposition. Local elected officials from Los Angeles City Council member and former police officer Dennis Zine to Orange County Supervisor Chris Norby, from Oakland Mayor Ronald Dellums to SF Supervisors and Berkeley City Council have condemned the DEA tactics against patients and providers. SF State Senator Carole Migden recently introduced legislation calling on the DEA to end its interference in California and threw her support, with others, behind House Judiciary Chair John Conyers, who expressed his deep concern and called for DEA oversight hearings. So where is Mayor Newsom? It seems that Mayor Newsom is in hiding. Alex, at Drug Law Blog, rightly notes Newsom's silence on the issue and links it to the political vulnerability found around the issues of both medical marijuana and gay marriage, with pragmatism as the possible reason for his silence. However, unlike gay marriage, medical marijuana enjoys the support of at least 80% of Americans, not to mention a full 91% in SF. Regardless of any potential political justification for his actions, it is unconscionable that Newsom is refusing to say anything. Let's hope that this round of media compels Newsom, the anti-drug war Mayor, to not only defend safe access to medical marijuana for thousands of patients in his city, but to also protect the same facilities that contribute millions of dollars in sales tax to the state budget. The time for Newsom to act is now. Local and state officials must seize the opportunity to defend safe access to medical marijuana and the will of San Franciscans, Californians, and states that have fought for such assumed protections.

California Weekly Round Up

Berkeley City Council Votes to Provide Sanctuary to Patients and Providers On Tuesday, the Berkeley City Council voted to adopt a Sanctuary Resolution, which will provide protection for patients and providers in the event of a DEA raid. The Berkeley City Council unanimously approved the Medical Cannabis Sanctuary Resolution co-sponsored by Councilmembers Moore and Worthington, thereby designating Berkeley a "sanctuary for medicinal cannabis patients, providers, and landlords." The resolution also called on the Governor to stand up against the DEA and call for an end to the interference in the implementation of state and local laws. This resolution came as a result of months of lobbing and outreach to the City Council by medical cannabis activists, patients, providers, and supporters. This is an important victory for patients, providers, and now third-party landlords in Berkeley and the East Bay.  Congratulations to all of those who worked on this important resolution to ensure protection and safe access in the Bay Area. To learn more about the City Council's resolution read the San Jose Mercury and Berkeley Daily Planet articles. California Legislation to Help and Protect Patients As the anti-medical marijuana efforts escalate with the most recent examples being the surge of DEA raids and the California Supreme Court's decision to deny a patient's right to work, several California state representatives are stepping forward to protect patients and providers in California.  The following is a brief legislative update on medical cannabis bills and a resolution that are being worked on in Sacramento currently. Last week, ASA reported that Assemblyman Mark Leno was introducing a bill that would protect a patient's right to work. This bill came on the heels of the California Supreme Court's ruling last week in the Ross vs. Raging Wire Communications case.  California Assemblyman Mark Leno and ASA were waiting to respond in case of an adverse ruling like this. Assemblyman Leno announced only hours after the decision on Thursday that he will be introducing an ASA-sponsored piece of legislation that will amend California law to protect patients from this kind of discrimination. Senator Carol Migden has been a long time medical cannabis supporter. Last month, working with medical cannabis supporters, the senator introduced a California Senate Joint Resolution calling on Congress, the President, and federal law enforcement to stop raiding legal medical cannabis collectives and respect California’s law. Senator Migden’s resolution follows an unprecedented escalation in Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) attacks on medical cannabis providers and threats against property owners who rent to hundreds of collectives all over California. Senator Migden also recently introduced to the Senate floor a bill that will ensure back tax relief for medical cannabis dispensaries.  The medical cannabis dispensaries would have back sales tax amnesty for all sales prior to October 1, 2005.   Senator Migden's sales tax relief comes in response to the 2005 decision by the California Board of Equalization (BoE) to adopt a policy to collect sales tax from dispensaries and other medical marijuana providers. At the time, ASA testified at several public hearings, presenting a position paper against collection of sales tax, as it would invariably be a cost absorbed by the patients. To read about ASA's position on sales tax,  click here. This bill is an important compromise for both dispensaries and the Board of Equalization, because it relieves the burden of paying large amounts of back taxes whilst encouraging compliance with and participation in the BoE's sales tax scheme.  Read more about Senator Migden's tax relief bill in the Bay Area Reporter. ASA will keep you updated as news comes in on the status of these three important pieces of legislation. New Northern California U.S. Attorney Says Raids Should be a Low Priority This week, the San Francisco station KCBS released a story about the new U.S. Attorney for Northern California, Russoniello.  The story highlighted a recent quote by Russoniello regarding DEA raids of state sanctioned and regulated medical cannabis dispensaries.  The new U.S. Attorney said,  "We could spend a lifetime closing dispensaries and doing other kinds of things and enforcement actions, bringing cases and prosecuting people, shoveling sand against the tide, it would be terribly unproductive and probably not an efficient use of precious federal resources." While the new U.S. Attorney's sentiments about funding raids are encouraging, the federal government and current Bush Administration has made it clear that they intend to shut out access for patients.   To listen to the full story on KCBS and the new U.S. Attorney for Northern California's statements click here.

Advocates Urge Presidential Candidates to End DEA Raids by Executive Order

Nationwide campaign launched today to end federal enforcement against medical marijuana With only a week left until Super Tuesday, medical marijuana advocates launched a nationwide campaign today to urge presidential candidates to end federal raids in states with medical marijuana laws. The campaign urges candidates to issue an Executive Order upon taking office that would end federal interference in state-sanctioned medical marijuana laws. The proposed Executive Order would deny funds to the Department of Justice for federal enforcement efforts against patients and providers in states that have adopted medical marijuana laws. "To match the increased level of federal interference in states with medical marijuana laws, we're asking candidates to clearly state their opposition by pledging to issue an Executive Order, if elected." said Caren Woodson, Director of Government Affairs at Americans for Safe Access, the advocacy group that launched the campaign. "We're spending millions of dollars on law enforcement actions that harm our most vulnerable citizens," continued Woodson. "And, the President wields the power to stop it at any time." Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Gonzales v. Raich (2005), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has stepped up its enforcement actions against medial marijuana patients and providers. While federal interference has occurred in multiple medical marijuana states, some have been hit harder than others. In California, the DEA has conducted more than 100 raids and threatened more than 300 landlords with criminal prosecution and asset forfeiture if they continue to lease to medical marijuana dispensing collectives (dispensaries). In addition, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is currently prosecuting more than 100 medical marijuana-related cases. The campaign focuses on candidates that have already made supportive statements on medical marijuana: Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, former Senator John Edwards, and Representative Ron Paul. These candidates are being asked to officiate their support by pledging to issue an Executive Order, which states that:
"No funds made available to the Department of Justice shall be used to prevent States from implementing adopted laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana. In particular, no funds shall be used to investigate, seize, arrest or prosecute in association with the distribution of medical marijuana, unless such distribution has been found by adjudication to violate state or local law."
DEA actions have already garnered opposition from both local and federal lawmakers, including Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums and House Judiciary Chair John Conyers. In December, Mayor Dellums made a public statement condemning DEA tactics. The same month, Chairman Conyers publicly voiced his "deep concern" over DEA "efforts to undermine California state law," and he committed to sharply question these tactics in oversight hearings.

California Weekly Round Up

Oakland Mayor Dellums Speaks Out for Safe Access On December 20th, Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums came out strongly in support of medical cannabis patients and dispensaries by issuing a statement and sending a letter to House Judiciary Chair John Conyers (D-MI). Dellums also stated his support for Representative Conyers' decision to hold hearings scrutinizing the latest DEA tactics in California of sending threatening letters to landlords and raiding dispensaries that are in compliance with local and state law. In Dellums' letter to Representative Conyers, he "urge[s] the House Judiciary Committee to expeditiously hold hearings and examine this very important issue." Mayor Dellums' public statement and letter were a result of a coalition of activists reaching out to the mayor, including ASA, local attorney James Anthony, the Drug Policy Alliance, CA NORML, and the Marijuana Policy Project. Just under a month ago, Bay Area landlords who rented to collectives received letters from the DEA threatening to seize their assets if they did not evict the medical cannabis providers. ASA and the coalition of advocates sprung into action, reaching out immediately to local elected officials, calling on them to stand up for patients and providers. Mayor Dellums' recent public support joins a handful of other elected officials in the Bay Area, including Senator Carol Migden, Assemblyman Mark Leno, and the Oakland City Council who have come out publicly against the federal government's attack on medical marijuana. We are continuing to rally support from local officials and the community. San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates have yet to release a statement supporting medical cannabis patients and providers and condemning the DEA's attacks. Read Mayor Dellums' letter to Representative Conyers at: http://www.americansforsafeaccess.org/downloads/Dellums_Letter_to_Conyers.pdf Read Mayor Dellums' statement at: www.AmericansforSafeAccess.org/downloads/Dellums_Statement.pdf

To find out ways to get involved and ensure safe access in San Francisco please contact Alex Franco at: AAAFranco@yahoo.com To find out ways to get involved in the East Bay please contact Sonnet@AmericansforSafeAccess.org

Check out Mayor Dellums' press coverage on Channel 2, the Oakland Tribune, and KPFA

Court Appeals Verdict: Patient's Conviction is Reversed The Fourth Appellate District Court issued another very positive published decision in People v. Chakos last week. The two concurring judges, Aronson and Fybel, involved in the unanimous opinion were the same two concurring judges in the Garden Grove (Kha) case.

The court found that the conviction for possession with the intent to sell of defendant Chakos should be reversed because the court improperly admitted a cop to testify as an expert about marijuana distribution. They found him to be no more an expert than the average layperson because he did not understand the unique practices and difficulties faced by medical marijuana patients. Although the defendant possessed approximately six ounces of marijuana, had a digital scale, and plastic baggies, the court found that this did not suggest non-medical use. Specifically, after noting that a patient is legally entitled to possess eight ounces of marijuana under California law, the court stated:

"One might posit, then, that individuals who may lawfully possess marijuana under state law for medicinal purposes will have patterns of purchase and holding that will reflect the practical difficulties in obtaining the drug. Those practical difficulties could also explain the gram scale -- anyone with the lawful right to possess marijuana will need to take precautions not to insure that he or she does not get “ripped off” by a dealer, but that he or she does not possess more than the eight ounces contemplated by the Act. Practical difficulties of obtaining the drug also explain why a patient entitled to 13 possess it under state law might want to keep an extra supply on hand within the legal amount, since supplies would not be reliable."

They end the decision by referring to the "expert" cop:

"Now, are these speculations to be rejected because contradicted by the expert’s testimony on the record? No -- and that is the point: The record fails to show that Deputy Cormier is any more familiar than the average layperson or the members of this court with the patterns of lawful possession for medicinal use that would allow him to differentiate them from unlawful possession for sale. In other words, Cormier was unqualified to render an expert opinion in this case."

Read more about the case and the 4th Appellate Court's decision in the San Francisco Chronicle's story: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/12/21/BAJ0U37B7.DTL&tsp=1 Ukiah City Council Calls for Medicine Limits- Board of Supervisors to Consider Ballot Initiative The Ukiah City Council is expected to vote on a resolution today at 4:00pm, which calls on the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors to put an initiative on the ballot to limit the number of plants medical cannabis patients are allowed to cultivate and repeal the landmark legislation, Measure G. Measure G was voted on by the Mendocino County voters in 2000. The measure 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 Council is calling for a repeal of Measure G and limiting the plant numbers to six per patient. The Board of Supervisors is scheduled to discuss putting the repeal of Measure G and limiting patients' cultivation on the ballot next Tuesday, January 8th.

Come out and support patients' access! Scroll down to "City and County Hearings" to find details about the Board of Supervisors meeting next Tuesday.

Read about Ukiah City Council's efforts to repeal of Measure G in the Press Democrat: http://www1.pressdemocrat.com/article/20071224/NEWS/712240316/1033/NEWS01 and in the Willits News: http://www.willitsnews.com//ci_7812598?IADID=Search-www.willitsnews.com-www.willitsnews.com

Orange County Begins Issuing Medical Cannabis ID Cards From Safe Access Now's Aaron Smith

On January 2nd, the Orange County Department of Public Health launched the statewide medical marijuana ID card program. Application for the cards are being taken on an appointment-only basis. Obtaining a card is voluntary for patients and caregivers but many find them to be very helpful in preventing false arrest by state and local law enforcement. In order to qualify for the ID card, you must be able to provide a copy of a valid doctor's recommendation for medical marijuana, proof of residency within Orange County and pay an application fee of $150 ($75 for MediCal recipients).

To make an appointment and apply for the card program, call the County Health Department at (714) 480-6717 during normal business hours.


California Weekly Round Up

ASA Files New Arguments in San Diego Case This week, patients throughout California along with the city of San Diego filed a brief incorporating two new legal arguments that oppose San Diego County's attempt to defy and overturn California state law.  Representing the medical marijuana patients of California, ASA's Chief Counsel, Joe Elford filed the brief with the intent to highlight the recent California Court of Appeals decision in Kha vs. Garden Grove, which was released in late November of this year. San Diego County is awaiting a decision in their appeal, which was filed in early February. San Diego County filed a lawsuit in February 2006 challenging the state requirement to implement an identification card program for qualified medical marijuana patients and their primary caregivers.  In December 2006, San Diego Superior Court Judge William Nevitt, Jr. ruled that there is no "positive conflict" between federal and state law, affirming the sovereignty of state law. The Counties of San Diego and San Bernardino appealed in February. ASA and the City of San Diego filed the amicus, "friend of the court," brief citing the Kha decision. Since San Diego County's main legal argument is that federal law preempts state law, incorporating the Kha decision in this recent brief has the potential to have an major impact in the lawsuit.  The California's Fourth Appellate District, which heard the Kha case, is the same appellate court that will hear this case. In the November 28th ruling in City of Garden Grove v. Superior Court of Orange County, the court held that state law was neither "preempted" nor "superseded" and stated further that, "it is not the job of the local police to enforce the federal drug laws..." Read ASA's press release about the brief here. DEA Raids Los Angeles Dispensary Herbal Nutrition Center in Los Angeles was raided yesterday afternoon by DEA agents.  The collective was ransacked by agents, but no one was arrested. DEA agents seized medicine and vandalized displays and the collective's surveillance system.  As a result of the raid and the upcoming holidays the collective will be re-opening it's doors on January 2, 2008. Thank you to all that came out to show your support.  If you haven't signed up for ASA's raid alert text messaging system, do so today at: www.AmericansforSafeAccess.org/RaidAlert Read a report about the raid from the collective's operator on ASA's forums at: http://www.safeaccessnow.org/punbb/viewtopic.php?id=642   Special Announcement: Tom Kikuchi has Moved to a Different Facility ASA has been alerted that recently convicted Tom Kikuchi has been moved has been taken from Dyer Detention Center.  Sarah Armstrong, longtime supporter and caretaker for victims of the war on medical marijuana reports that, "he feels this is a temporary situation, and that he will soon be shipped away to somewhere else, they will not tell him where."  Sarah has also reported that Tom has asked that people hold up on cards and letters until he can ascertain how long he will be at this federal facility.  ASA will keep you updated as news comes in. Tom Kikuchi, co-defendant along with Stephanie Landa and Kevin Gage, was sentenced only a few weeks ago to two years in a federal prison for violating the conditions of his federal supervised release. Read Vanessa Nelson's article(s) on Tom Kikuchi at: http://www.medicalmarijuanaofamerica.com/content/view/166/111/

10 Questions: Presidential Candidates on Medical Marijuana

There's a great online presidential forum that has asked 10 questions to each of the presidential candidates. Question #3 asks the candidates how they feel about medical marijuana, whether they would stop the DEA raids, and if they would change the laws. So far, one Republican and four Democrats have answered the questions. Here are there answers: Mike Huckabee does a great job at dodging the question and even claims that the way to go about this would be for advocates to just change the laws (as if we weren't trying, and as if Huckabee would have no influence over this if he was president): Mike Gravel dodges the question in a completely different way, using the opportunity to bash the war on drugs and talk about broader decriminalization of marijuana: Dennis Kucinich probably does the best job of answering the question directly, clearly stating that he would end the raids and that medical marijuana should be available to those who need it: John Edwards states that he would end the DEA raids and ties medical marijuana into the broader issue of the Bush administration's neglect of science, in favor of politics: Barack Obama also voices support for medical marijuana, saying that if it's safe it should regulated like other prescription drugs, though he takes jabs at patients who grow their own medicine: So what do you think? Who dodged the question? Who answered it the best? Did any of these answers change who you're going to vote for?