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DEA Turning Its Sights on Patients, Small Growers

DEA Turning Its Sights on Patients, Small Growers
in Escalating California Medical Marijuana Conflict

While the US Justice Department has for months been escalating its
campaign to reign in California's voter-approved experiment with
medical marijuana, it has also claimed that it was really only
targeting criminal trafficking activity disguised as providing
medicine to the ill. That claim is growing increasingly
threadbare. A series of raids this summer documented by
California NORML ( shows that despite its
disclaimers, the DEA is now targeting patients and small growers
in California.

"I don't know of any instance in which there's been a federal
targeting of any user; that's not within the federal priority
system," DEA head Asa Hutchison told a hostile San Francisco crowd
in April. "We have gone after traffickers. If you have 500
marijuana plants, that is of concern."

Either Hutchison needs to have a word with his underlings or his
San Francisco comments are, in that hallowed Nixonian phrase, "no
longer operative."

"We have been waiting for the other shoe to drop with some big
bust, possibly of a co-op or compassion club," said Dale
Gieringer, head of California NORML. "But what we are seeing
instead is a series of raids directed at patients and growers who
have no connection at all to trafficking," he told DRCNet.

The list of recent DEA actions directed at patients or small
growers includes:

* An August 15 raid in which DEA agents destroyed a 6-plant
patient garden belonging to Diane Monson of Oroville, openly
defying a plea from Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey to
leave her plants alone.

* An August 15 raid in which DEA agents in Santa Rosa ripped up
the medical garden of Alan MacFarlane, a cancer patient who was
acquitted of growing 100 plants for his personal medical use in a
jury trial last year. This time, the agents took 128 plants,
which MacFarlane says were being grown for 10 seriously ill
patients in accordance with Sonoma County guidelines.

* In Orange County, patient Michael Teague was arrested by the
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms after his Prop 215
cultivation case was dismissed in state court. Teague, who had a
legal handgun in his closet, was arrested on charges of being an
"unlawful drug user in possession of a handgun."

* In Mendocino County, the federal government filed charges
against disabled patient David Arnett and his caregiver David
Kephart for growing just 27 plants on BLM land after their case
was dismissed by the DA under Prop. 215.

The DEA has also targeted well-known medical marijuana activists,
such as:

* Lynn and Judy Osburn, who were recently arrested by the DEA for
growing a personal use garden of 35 plants at their Ventura County
ranch. The Osburns had been raided last year for cultivating for
the Los Angeles Cannabis Resource Center, but no indictment was
delivered in that case. However, the government moved to forfeit
their home, and they were put under DEA surveillance.

* Charles "Eddy" Lepp, another well-known activist, was raided by
the DEA in Lake County last week. Lepp, who was acquitted for
growing 132 plants in a high-profile trial in 1998, had been
openly growing for himself and other patients.

* In Sonoma County, another former Prop. 215 defendant, Mike
Foley, who was acquitted for providing marijuana to a San
Francisco patients' group last year, was re-arrested by the FBI
for growing a modest garden that was within county guidelines for
personal use.

* Valerie Corral of the Women's Alliance for Medical Marijuana in
Santa Cruz, and Mike Corral, were arrested yesterday (Thursday,
September 5) and their garden destroyed by the DEA. WAMM is a
collective serving 300 seriously ill patients, many of them

"This is an ongoing campaign, and there is no doubt that US
Attorneys have been given the order to go after medical
marijuana," said Gieringer. "This is really vicious and is
happening under the radar. They barely know it's happening on the
West Coast, let alone in Washington, DC, and Texas, where the
decisions are made. The audacity of the Justice Department in
trying to claim it is not going after medical marijuana patients
is mind-boggling," Gieringer added.

The sentencing of yet another medical marijuana grower, Bryan
Epis, could provide the setting for a major protest of federal
government policies, Gieringer said. Epis, who is to be sentenced
on September 23, faces a 10-year mandatory minimum sentence.
Americans for Safe Access (, a
campaign of the Cannabis Action Network, is planning a mass action
at the sentencing and has prepared an "emergency response network"
ready to spring into action in the event of another major bust.
But, given the federal government's new tactic of going after the
small fish, medical marijuana supporters may have to rethink their
response strategy.

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kinda like China

This kinda reminds me of how the Chinese People's Liberation Army goes into the homes of Tibetans, seizing any pictures of the Dalai Lama they find.


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