Pages tagged "Raids"


California Weekly Round Up

Victory in Kha Case Will Have a Major Impact for Patients This week, medical marijuana patients throughout California received a monumental victory.  On Wednesday, a California Appeals Court ruled that “it is not the job of the local police to enforce the federal drug laws.” Ending years of dispute, the court ruled in favor of Felix Kha, a medical marijuana patient seeking the return of his medical marijuana that was seized by police. In a ruling that rejects law enforcement’s claim that federal law preempts the state’s medical marijuana law, the court asserted “we do not believe the federal drug laws supersede or preempt Kha’s right to the return of his property.” Joe Elford, ASA's Chief Counsel, said it best when asked about the effect this case will have. Elford said, "This case will have beneficial ripple effects on all of our other cases, since the decision is so comprehensive.  This was an even better decision that I would have hoped." This victory is the result of years of work put in by ASA's legal staff, volunteers, activists, and patients.  Kha, a medical marijuana patient, was cited for marijuana possession and had his medicine seized in 2005.  The case was quickly dismissed, but the City of Garden Grove refused to return the unlawfully seized medicine.  After more than 2 years of waiting, the appellate court's decision puts an end to state law enforcement seizing medicine from patients, preventing future injustices like the one Kha faced. Since proposition 215 passed, the seizure of medicine by California law enforcement has been a far too common experience for many of California's terminally ill and chronic disease patients.  Just in the past two years, ASA has compiled reports from nearly eight hundred patient encounters with local or state police.  These glaring trends will now be forced to end due to this court decision. As a result of this court decision, ASA will be revamping our Return of Property campaign to ensure justice for all patients who have had their medicine taken away. Noah Mamber, ASA's Legal Coordinator says about the decision, "The Legal Department is very excited about the possibilities that this decision creates. Since every Superior Court in the state must follow this decision, we intend to simplify our Motion for Return of Property template, and relaunch the campaign, encouraging all patients who were possessing their medicine legally and have had it confiscated to use this case in trying to get it back. The more motions we file, the more pressure the judges will exert on the district attorneys and police to stop harassing legal patients." Read more about the decision in our press release at:http://www.safeaccessnow.org/article.php?id=5251 Read the press coverage by: NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/30/us/30pot.html?ref=us SF Chronicle: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/11/30/BAIFTLCNQ.DTL The Recorder: http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1196361712064 Orange County Register:  http://www.ocregister.com/news/marijuana-law-kha-1931328-state-garden CBS 2: http://cbs2.com/local/Medical.Marijuana.Garden.2.598475.html Medical Marijuana Movement Loses Linda Senti From Chris Payaso, c/o Oaksterdam News and Weedbay.net: It is with great sadness that I am writing to tell you all that a great shining light of compassion and freedom here in California has been snuffed out. Linda Senti, wife of cannabis activist Eddy Lepp, passed from this world at 8 pm PST Sunday, November 25. Linda was my closest confidant and friend in California, and although sad at her passing, I am happy she is no longer in pain from the cancer she has been fighting for decades. Please pray for Linda, and especially Eddy Lepp. He needs all the support and love that we can offer so that he can continue fighting for OUR RIGHTS. Both Eddy and Linda worked tirelessly for at least the last 20 years together on their vision. A vision that included personal freedom for everyone. Sonoma County Board of Supervisors Deny Dispensary Permit This week, in a disappointing  act, the Sonoma Board of Supervisors denied Creekside Medicinal Organics their permit in a 3-0 vote with two Supervisors missing.  Despite the large contingency of Sonoma ASA chapter members, patients, and activists who testified in support of Creekside Medicinal Organics, the board went ahead and voted the permit down, citing ordinance residential zoning rule.  The collective had met every stipulation of the county's ordinance with one small exception.  The land parcel site is 53 feet from residential zoning. The ordinance rule is 100 feet.  The physical building, however, is located over two hundred feet from the residential zoning, but because parcel line is only 53 feet away, the permit was recommended for denial and then voted down in a unanimous decision. ASA would like to thank Sonoma ASA and all the activists, patients, and concerned citizens that showed up in support of the collective.  Even though we did not win, we appreciate your hard work and your commitment to safe access. It is people like you that keep this movement alive and strong. Read more about the hearing at: http://www.ktvu.com/news/14710912/detail.html Update on Long Beach Raid Two weeks ago, DEA agents raided Long Beach Compassionate Caregivers, seizing medicine and other resources and arresting the collective's operator, Samuel Matthew Fata.  The collective has remained closed since the raid, and ASA has not received reports of their plans to reopen. The raid was the first federal attack on a dispensary in Long Beach, and the DEA has released a press statement saying it will not be the last. The city of Long Beach does not have a dispensary ordinance, nor regulations in place, despite the reported 10+ dispensaries in the city. Several dispensaries in Long Beach have fallen under attack recently when the DEA issued asset forfeiture letters to the facilities' landlords.  ASA will report breaking news on access in Long Beach as well as upcoming court dates and support for the collective as we receive reports.  If you have any information about upcoming court dates for Fata, please contact Sonnet@AmericansforSafeAccess.org To read more about the raid, see the following news articles: Long Beach Press-Telegram:  http://www.presstelegram.com/search/ci_7530132 and http://www.presstelegram.com/search/ci_7544769

Visiting with Stephanie Landa

Jane is a medical marijuana activist and ASA volunteer in the Greater Los Angeles Area. Recently, I joined fellow activists Ana and Chris to make our bi-monthly trek up the 5 freeway for a visit with our friend Stephanie Landa.  Stephanie, a 61 year old mother, is being held at the Dublin Federal Parks Camp, a decrepit women’s minimum security federal prison. The prison, a former World War II Japanese internment camp, sits in a beautiful valley surrounded by rolling golden hills, between a military base and the cookie cutter condo development built to house the soldiers. This prison, however, is not like what you’d imagine.  There are no guard towers, sweeping spotlights, and high barbed wire fences surrounding this facility.  In fact, there are no fences at all. A few inmates over the years have literally just walked away, but most don’t because they hope to reintegrate into society as soon as they are done clicking off days handed down by an arbitrary Sentencing Commission. Everyone knows that if they escape and get caught, the punishment is imprisonment just across the parking lot at the infamous maximum security Santa Rita County Jail, a facility that very much looks just as you’d imagine. At the guard’s desk, we surrender our identification and empty our pockets. The guard gives us a once over, to make sure we are dressed properly (no torn jeans or open-toed shoes as we learned on a previous visit). We log our names as visitors (having already undergone Federal background checks for approval) for Stephanie Landa, Prisoner Number: 09247800, then wait patiently for her to be called. She enters the room from a separate entrance, wearing blue prisoner garb and always a smile, her right arm hangs limply at her side under the pain of her ailing shoulder. We usually sit in the outdoor visiting area and Stephanie fills us in on her life in prison. In prison, there is no privacy. Most women are housed in dormitories in lots of 40. Throughout the night, every two to three hours, guards barge into the dorms for the nightly count, shining flashlights in the eyes of women attempting to sleep. Stephanie was recently upgraded to relatively lavish accommodations: a four bunk room, but she still hasn’t had a full night’s sleep since she arrived. She has very little freedom and personal choices are usually limited to a cheese burrito or a pepperoni microwave pizza from the vending machines. All her mail is read and censored, all phone calls are listened in on, and she can trust no one because everyone is a possible snitch. The wardens pit the women against each other by rewarding any piece of incriminating information. All conversations are subject to eavesdropping; even our conversation in the outdoor visiting area is likely to be listened- in on. She is monitored like a child, having to report to certain places at certain times. She must always obey and behave according to the rules. If she rebels in any way, she will be punished.  Of course, this doesn’t stop her.  Even in jail, she continues to be an activist, for medical marijuana and for improved prison conditions. Despite all this, Stephanie jokes that she thinks she might be becoming institutionalized. She doesn’t like it there, but she is getting used to it.  Eventually, Stephanie will be back in Los Angeles , but for now, it is just a matter of waiting. Not surprisingly, Stephanie is making the best of her time and keeping busy. She is the head of the Dublin Federal Correctional Institute chapter of Toastmasters International (which has record attendance since her takeover), she makes cards to answer every letter she receives, and she has nurtured some amazing crocheting skills (I have a hat and bag to prove it!). Usually, we are able to take pictures with Stephanie, but today, the “picture lady” is unavailable. The last time we took photos, four out of five photos were confiscated by the prison officials. We had posed in front of various signs in the visiting area (Keep of the Grass, the sign for the prison, No Smoking) and apparently someone didn’t like the rare moment of personal expression. In fact, now photos can only be taken in two designated areas.  There was even now a backdrop set up.  Tighter control is constantly being placed on the smallest of freedoms. Visiting hours end at 2 PM. It’s always hard to say good bye. It’s hard to leave her behind. Sometimes Stephanie will smile and ask a guard if she can come home with us, and follow it up with an “OK, just checking.” While we leave to enjoy a nice lunch before heading home, Stephanie must go back into the dormitories, where her life is dictated. The injustice of her conviction is felt acutely. She is eleven months into the forty-month sentence doled out to her for growing medication (plants!) for sick and dying patients. Stephanie has been incarcerated since voluntarily turning herself over to federal authorities on January 4th, 2007. In 2002, after receiving the full cooperation of the SF Board of Supervisors, the SF Medical Marijuana Task Force, and San Francisco District Attorney Terrence Hallinan, Stephanie, Tom Kikuchi and Kevin Gage were turned over to the Drug Enforcement Agency by a rogue narcotics detective in the San Francisco Police Department, an action that was in a violation of the city’s Medical Marijuana Sanctuary Resolution. Because they were not allowed to present a medical defense in federal court, all three accepted a plea bargain and plead guilty. Despite 8 SF Supervisors and DA Hallinan writing personal letters to Judge William Alsup asking for leniency in sentencing, she was still sentenced to 41 months, Alsup admitting the sentence was improper but claiming his hands were tied. Stephanie is still a beacon of light and love, despite the circumstances. The one thing that has helped through all of this is the mail she receives. She says that she absolutely lives for mail call. Please, write to Stephanie! FCI DUBLIN SATELLITE CAMP Prisoner Stephanie Landa POW # 09247-800 5675 8TH ST DUBLIN, CA 94568

California Weekly Round Up

ASA & Local Advocates Prevail in Orange County! From California Campaign Director, Don Duncan Supervisor Bates has pulled her motion to deny collectives and cooperatives licenses from the Board’s agenda. The decision stems from input from ASA and her constituents at and following the October 30th Board of Supervisor’s meeting. This is great news for patients in that traditionally underserved county, and it also keeps the statewide momentum flowing towards regulating safe access – not preventing it. Thanks to all the patients and concerned citizens who chimed in to make a difference! We must all stay vigilant in case another threat pops up… so keep your eyes on the Orange County Board of Supervisors and other local government. Check out my November 5 blog on the last minute campaign to stop this ban at http://AmericansforSafeAccess.org/OrangeCountyBlog DEA Raids Long Beach Dispensary DEA agents raided Long Beach Compassionate Cooperative yesterday. ASA is awaiting further details on the raid. A patient that was there claims that DEA raided LBCC 5 minutes after they opened yesterday morning. DEA took the medicine and harassed the volunteers, but we still have not heard of any arrests. Please post any news on the raid at our forum, http://www.AmericansforSafeAccess.org/LongBeachRaid Tom Kikuchi Sentenced to Two Years in Federal Prison Tom Kikuchi, co-defendant along with Stephanie Landa and Kevin Gage, was sentenced yesterday to two years in a federal prison for violating the conditions of his federal supervised release. Tom Kikuchi, Stephanie Landa, and Kevin Gage, a noted Hollywood actor, accepted a plea agreement in 2003. This case drew attention because San Francisco police apparently turned her and two others over to federal prosecutors. The three had met with the city’s district attorney and police officials before beginning cultivation. For more information about the case and Tom Kikuchi's hearing, read Vanessa Nelson's article at: http://www.medicalmarijuanaofamerica.com/content/view/166/111/

California Weekly Round Up

ASA and Orange County Medical Marijuana Activists Achieve a Victory for Safe Access! From ASA California Campaign Director, Don Duncan The Orange County Board of Supervisors decided this week to delay a vote on banning medical cannabis collectives after Americans for Safe Access (ASA) and local advocates expressed concern about the impact on patients and the process through which the item suddenly appeared on the Board’s agenda. Supervisor Bates’ eleventh-hour motion would have prohibited the county from issuing permits, licenses, or allowances for any activity that violates federal law, a back door approach to banning collectives already used in two Orange County cities. ASA and advocates did not get word of Supervisor Bates’ motion until the afternoon before the early morning hearing. I asked the Board to table the issue to allow more time to consider how other jurisdictions are regulating collectives, including neighboring Los Angeles County. I told the Board that concerns over abuse of the state’s medical cannabis laws are valid, but that regulations are the best tool for protecting patients and communities. I left each Board Member with a copy or our report on the outcomes of regulations for collectives in cities and counties all over California and some information about what the County and City of Los Angeles are doing to effectively regulate their facilities. You can read the report at http://www.AmericansForsafeAccess.org/DispensaryReport The Board also heard from William Britt of the Association of Patient Advocates. Mr. Britt told the Supervisors that banning collectives would harm patients and was inconsistent with the Board’s decision in April to issue Medical Cannabis ID Cards mandated under CA Health and Safety Code 11362.71 (SB-420). A local patient told the Board that there is insufficient access to affordable medicine in Orange County, and this motion would only make things worse. The Board voted unanimously to continue the motion until December 4. ASA will continue to educate the Board about compassionate and sensible alternatives before that vote. Congratulations to advocates for their quick and effective response to this unanticipated vote. DEA Strikes East Bay Collective and Facilities On Tuesday, the DEA raided the Compassionate Patients Cooperative of California (CPCC) in Hayward, arresting the two operators, Winslow and Abraham Norton. The raid began in the early morning on Tuesday with the DEA shattering the collective's patients intake center glass door and then moving on to the actual dispensary next door. During that time the Norton Brothers were arrested and their homes were raided. They were taken into custody and held overnight without bail. CPCC had a permit from Alameda County, authorized by the Alameda County Board of Supervisors to operate. The permit required that they follow stringent regulations and allow the Sheriff's Department to conduct monthly inspections. They did not have any permit violations during their time of operation in Alameda County. ASA activists, patients, and staff received the news via ASA's Emergency Text Messaging System and sprung into action. While a handful of Oakland, Berkeley, and San Francisco activists came out to show their support, several CPCC collective members showed up to the collective with the intent of getting their medicine and stayed to protest the attack on safe access in Alameda County. The group of protesters drew a crowd of onlookers and local media. NBC 11, KTVU Channel 2, and the Daily Review were just a few of the many media outlets that covered the story. See video from the raid here: http://www.bayareanewsgroup.com/multimedia/iba/2007/player/?f=1030pot Alameda County Sheriff's officers were at the site of the raiding claiming to be there for "crowd control." The officers carried batons and weapons and stared the crowd down with only the yellow tape between them and the patients. The County police went so far as to post an officer on the roof of the collective with what appeared to be a tear gas gun. While the dispensary raid was happening, several other facilities in association with CPCC were raided by the DEA in a joint operation involving DEA, Berkeley PD, Oakland PD, and the Alameda County Sheriff's Department. Tuesday's raids in Hayward were the third major attack on patients and providers in the Bay Area in less than a month. Bay Area activists, patients, and providers will be continuing to bolster their emergency response plans to ensure large protests at future raids. To sign up for ASA's Emergency Raid Response Text Messaging System, go to www.AmericansforSafeAccess.org/RaidAlert ASA will report further details on the Norton brothers' status and the collective as information comes in. DEA Raids Orange County Collective and Operator's Home Yesterday, the DEA arrested Steele Smith at his home in Fullerton at 6:00 in the morning. At the same time, Smith's dispensary, C-3 Collective in Garden Grove, and one other home in association with the collective was raided. One of the collective's employees and Smith’s wife were arrested as well. They had a bail hearing today at 2:00pm in Los Angeles. ASA will continue to report further details as we receive them. Orange County ASA will be meeting on November 14th to discuss support for the Smiths and C-3 Collective. See "ASA Chapter and Affiliate Meetings" for more details.

DEA Raids Hayward Dispensaries, but Activists Don't Stand Down

Justin Alan Ryan is an independent professional and medical cannabis advocate, activist, and patient from Texas living and working in the San Francisco Bay Area. Beginning early in the morning, October 30, 2007, the DEA raided several locations connected to Compassionate Patients' Cooperative of California (CPCC). Medical Cannabis supporters from around the SF Bay trekked to a far southeast outpost of our thriving safe access community after receiving SMS messages from ASA's alert system. In addition to various federal agents, the Alameda County Sheriff's Department came in tow, at least twenty strong by noontime, though the facility being raided has been issued a license by the county. In contrast to a raid that occurred in LA the day of our mobilization to the governor's office, these officers were slightly more laid back, presented less of a unified front, and after some time in many cases were joking and laughing, maybe at us, who knows. A number of folks on our side of the tape observed that a small group of women present within the law enforcement faction were assigned the duty of sweeping up the broken glass from a door that probably could easily have been opened without force, which is perhaps representative of how out of date the opposition to our issue are in every aspect of existance. Due especially, I'm sure, to the time of day this raid was executed, at least a handful of patients joined the protest when they found they couldn't get any medicine at CPCC, and many apparent patients drove away without stopping, sporting alarmed and surprised looks. By the time we had been out for a couple of hours or more, the numbers of officers grew, eventually including a fellow proudly sporting an automatic teargas gun, roughly aimed at a group of less than ten nonviolent protestors, a staff member of a county supervisor, and a couple of television cameras. All in all, I'd say our community responded very well given the time of the raid, it's just a shame that having great community support won't increase the level of access for patients in this remote area of the SF Bay, our best hope for now is probably that it can keep the operators out of prison.

A Sad Day in Montana, and across the Country - In Remebrance of Robin Prosser

It is a sad day for the people of Montana, medical marijuana advocates, and people anywhere who are sympathetic to the plight of the sick and dying. Robin Prosser, a Missoula, Montana medical marijuana patient, and a powerful activist fighting for the rights of patients, took her life on October 18. She will be remembered in the struggle for a compassionate and humane federal policy on medical marijuana. Robin was a fighter. She encountered many obstacles, but many victories along the way. In 2002, she sustained a 60-day hunger strike in order to bring attention to her need  for medical marijuana, as well as a need for the protection of patients. In 2004, Robin was charged with possession of an illegal substance and paraphernalia, but managed to fight the charges and continue to use medical marijuana. Arguably, the attention Robin gave to the issue in the preceding years helped to pass I-148, the Montana Medical Marijuana Act (MMMA) of 2004. However, even with the passage of the much-needed MMMA, Robin's troubles were not over. In 2007, a UPS package was intercepted from her registered caregiver by the DEA. The package was her twice-monthly shipment of 20 grams of medical marijuana. Though no federal charges were ever filed against Robin, the action by DEA agents was a clear attempt to intimidate her and others. In fact, the DEA's involvement is representative of increased attacks on patients in states with medical marijuana laws. It is part of a last-ditch effort to avoid a federal policy change. I had a chance to talk with Robin shortly after the DEA seized her medical marijuana and she informed me at the time that she had no other way to obtain the medicine she relied on to treat her severe pain and nausea caused by an immunosuppressive disorder she had endured for more than 20 years. Robin was rightfully angry and despondent. It is a shame that we have lost another activist in this struggle. It is shameful that the DEA either cannot see the harm it is inflicting, or is cognizant of the consequences of its actions but refuses to change course. Regardless, it's a tragedy. Robin will be missed, but we must carry on her strong activist conviction.

ASA's Trip to LA: Protest, DEA Raid & Interviews

ASA's trip to LA two weeks ago for the rally calling on Governor Schwarzenegger to Stand Up for Patients' Rights was apparently well documented. On Thursday, hundreds of patients and advocates rallied outside of Governor Schwarzenegger's Los Angeles office: Later that night, the DEA raided a medical marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles. ASA and LA activists jumped into motion and coordinated a protest outside of the dispensary: During the weekend, Dean Becker interviewed me for a documentary he's working on, and I discussed the increase in raids and ASA's response to DEA actions (my interview follows the one with Dr. Mitch Earlywine):

Stop the DEA from Breaking Up Two Happy Families

DEA raids consistently disrupt the lives of innocent patients and providers, but two recent raids have threatened to break up these two happy families: Breaking Up a Family... Ronald Naulls operated a safe, legal medical cannabis collective in Corona for over a year. On July 17, 2007, Naulls's home and the collective were invaded by the DEA. They seized everything: his property; his personal accounts; all of the collective's assets. Naulls was arrested and is now facing federal prosecution for distribution of medical cannabis. But that wasn't the worst of it. County child protective services came along and took Naulls's three little girls, ages 1, 3, and 5, and charged his wife with felony child endangerment. When they spoke to their children in their confidential foster home, the big sister said, Mommy, we're ready to come home now, we promise to be good. The family has since been reunited, but Naulls is still facing a lengthy legal battle. You can help out by donating through Green-Aid. Paramilitary-Style Raids Deny Patients Access to Edible Cannabis On September 26, 2007, the DEA raided five locations the DEA says are connected to Tainted, Inc., a well-known supplier of edible medical cannabis products available in dozens of medical marijuana dispensaries across the state. Heavily armed federal agents seized cannabis plants and medicinal edibles, arrested three people and killed an employee’s dog. On October 4th, Michael Martin turned himself in following an arrest warrant issued during the raids. He spoke in front of the Oakland Federal Building, surrounded by his wife, two children, and his mother, pleading with the federal government to spare his family more pain. Martin and three other defendants in the Tainted case are facing a lengthy and expensive legal battle, and Martin could face twenty years or more in federal prison for his role in supplying medical cannabis to qualified patients. You can help out by donating through Free Tainted.


Patients Rally, Police Raid

On Thursday, October 11th, 300 medical cannabis patients and advocates rallied in front of the Governor's office in downtown Los Angeles demanding that he stand up for patients' rights and the will of California voters and lawmakers. Later that night night, the DEA and LAPD staged yet another raid a one of Los Angeles' most respected collectives, the Arts District Healing Center (ADHC). Dozens of protesters turned out again to defend ADHC, which serves patients just blocks from City Hall. It is disheartening to see our local police department continue to support these harmful and unnecessary raids – despite clear guidance from LAPD Veteran and City Council Member Dennis Zine and his colleagues that the City intends to regulate medical cannabis facilities instead of close them. It is crucial that City Council members move forward quickly with a proposed resolution calling on an end to cooperation between the LAPD and DEA on medical cannabis raids. The image of our police department has been battered of late by brutality and scandal. This city does not need to see the men and women who should be heroes doing the work of villains. I was so proud of my fellow Angelinos and our guests from as far away as Rhode Island who stood up twice yesterday. It is a tremendous credit to local organizers that this constituency is so well trained and prepared to respond to an emergency on short notice. Americans for Safe Access (ASA) staff and volunteers leapt into action – sending hundreds of text messages and thousands of email alerts about the raid and protest less than one one half an hour after in began. Volunteers started calling phone trees prepared in advance for just this situation. ASA members showed up with signs and bull horns they keep in their cars in case of a federal raid. We will need all of those skills and dedication to keep pace with the continuing escalation of federal attacks on patients’ access in Los Angeles. We will likely face more raids in the near future, and some advocates will escalate their opposition using tactics of non-violent resistance, non-cooperation, and civil disobedience. The Los Angeles Chapter of ASA is prepared to train and support these advocates all along the way. We will continue to face these raids until we finally succeed in harmonizing federal law with the laws of California and the other states that allow for medical cannabis. Support from our Governor and other public figures is an important part of that effort. We also need to educate Members of Congress and their staffs so they are prepared to solve this problem once and for all. Every single day, ASA staff is working in Washington, DC, to defend patients in Los Angeles and nationwide. It makes a tremendous difference in their work when elected officials hear from their constituency about medical cannabis. Our DC staff can tell you first hand: your calls and letters matter. The next few months may be tough in Los Angeles. Please join us to fight back. On Thursday, I told the crowd at the rally that Los Angeles is where we will win the battle for safe access in California. That battle in underway in earnest right now. Thank you to those who have already joined the fight. We need everyone else! The next LA-ASA meeting will be on Saturday, October 20, at 1:00 at the Patient ID Center. Get a map or public transit information at http://www.ASAaction.org You can join the nation’s largest organization of patients, medical professionals, scientists and concerned citizens promoting safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research right now – http://www.AmericansForSafeAccess.org/Join You can also sign up for our emergency text message alert to be notified about DEA raids at http://www.AmericansForSafeAccess.org/RaidAlert See you at the meeting! See you in the streets!

California Weekly Round Up

Hundreds Gather at the Governor's Office Calling on Him to Stand Up for Patients' Rights On Thursday, over 300 medical cannabis supporters gathered from around the state to call on Governor Schwarzenegger to stand up for patients' rights and call on the Bush Administration to end the war on patients. The people began gathering in front of the Governor's over an hour before the event was scheduled. By the time the rally began, the crowd took up almost the entire block, spilling into the streets. During the rally, people were chanting, "support patients' rights, stand up and fight," and, "we're patients, not criminals!" Patients, providers, supporters, and concerned citizens held marquis-styled signs reading clever slogans such as, "Coming Soon: the Gov. in Terminate the DEA," "Coming Soon, the Gov. in End of DEA Days," and "The Gov. in Stop the Federal Predators." Brian Perry, LA City Council Member, Dennis Zine's, staffer read a powerful statement at the rally saying, "this year has seen a dramatic increase in federal law enforcement activity surrounding medical cannabis, including raids, confiscation of medicine and plants, and indictments." Other speakers included a reading of a statement by Orange County Supervisor, Chris Norby, ASA Executive Director, Steph Sherer, Michael Martin, the former medical marijuana edible manufacturer who was recently raided by the DEA, and ASA California Campaign Director, Don Duncan. The rally ended on a somber note when the crowd went silent to hear federal inmate, Stephanie Landa, speak on a participant's speaker phone from jail. Her speech further illustrated the need for the Governor to intervene in this dire situation. This year alone, the DEA has conducted at least 44 separate raids of patients and providers, more than twice that of the prior two years. Illustrating the breadth of these attacks, the DEA has conducted raids in no less than 10 counties across the state and has shut down entire regions of access to medical marijuana. Bringing a new dimension to the federal effort to undermine state law, letters were recently sent to more than 150 landlords in California, threatening asset forfeiture and criminal prosecution if they continued to lease to medical marijuana providers. This rally culminated weeks of advocacy that resulted in more than 40,000 postcards sent to the Governor, as well as hundreds of phone calls and emails, all urging him to take action to defend patients’ rights. In addition to calling on the Governor to end the federal raids on patients and providers, advocates are seeking a directive from the Governor to local law enforcement discouraging cooperation with federal raids. Advocates are also urging Schwarzenegger to solicit support from Governors of other medical marijuana states in order to ward off federal interference. In August, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson sent a letter to President Bush after the DEA threatened state officials with criminal prosecution if they implemented the state-mandated medical cannabis distribution system. Read more about the rally in the Associated Press, the Daily Breeze, and KSBY - NBC TV 6 (San Luis Obispo). DEA Raids Downtown Dispensary Following the Rally From ASA California Campaign Director, Don Duncan Last Thursday, more than 300 medical cannabis patients and advocates rallied in front of the Governor's office in downtown Los Angeles demanding that he stand up for patients' rights and the will of California voters and lawmakers. Last night, the DEA and LAPD staged yet another raid a one of Los Angeles' collectives, the Arts District Healing Center (ADHC). More than 50 protesters turned out again to defend ADHC, which serves patients just blocks from City Hall. It is disheartening to see our local police department continue to support these harmful and unnecessary raids – despite clear guidance from LAPD Veteran and City Council Member Dennis Zine and his colleagues that the City intends to regulate medical cannabis facilities instead of close them. It is crucial that City Council members move forward quickly with a proposed resolution calling on an end to cooperation between the LAPD and DEA on medical cannabis raids. The image of our police department has been battered of late by brutality and scandal. This city does not need to see the men and women who should be heroes doing the work of villains. I was so proud of my fellow Angelinos and our guests from as far away as Rhode Island who stood up twice yesterday. It is a tremendous credit to local organizers that this constituency is so well trained and prepared to respond to an emergency on short notice. Americans for Safe Access (ASA) staff and volunteers leapt into action – sending hundreds of text messages and thousands of email alerts about the raid and protest less than one one half an hour after in began. You can sign up for our emergency text message alert to be notified about DEA raids at http://www.AmericansForSafeAccess.org/RaidAlert. To sign up to receive the weekly round up by email, click here.