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Conflict Heightening in California Medical Marijuana Battle

In late breaking news, DRCNet learned Thursday evening that the DEA had struck again...
Conflict Heightening in California Medical Marijuana Battle

www.drcnet.org/wol/254.html

An aggressive federal offensive targeting medical marijuana providers,
growers and patients in California is rapidly energizing common
citizens and elected officials alike in support. The raid September 5
against the Santa Cruz Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana
(www.wamm.org) may mark the beginning of a real anti-federal
mobilization in California.

In late breaking news, DRCNet learned Thursday evening that the DEA had
struck again, this time raiding the Genesis medical marijuana
dispensary in Petaluma and an associated garden in Sebastopol and
arresting Genesis owner Robert Schmidt, who was being held by the DEA
as of Thursday afternoon. Americans for Safe Access
(www.safeaccessnow.org), the coalition that has spearheaded
protests against previous raids, has issued an emergency alert calling
for demonstrations at federal buildings across the country on Monday.
According to ASA, large numbers of plants were seized, witnesses
reported an ambulance at the scene, and Schmidt had been charged with
assaulting an officer.

"We are shocked that the DEA would make medical marijuana its top
priority while the rest of the county is at a high state of alert,"
said ASA executive director Steph Sherer. "While the country was on
orange alert on September 11, 30 DEA agents were busily plotting an
attack on the medical marijuana community. The president warned us of
an attack," Sherer continued, "but he didn't tell us it would be from
our own government."

The Santa Cruz raid has been denounced by the local sheriff's
department, which failed to intervene when angry WAMM patients blocked
DEA raiders from leaving the WAMM garden they had just destroyed, as
well as by members of the Santa Cruz city council and other state
political figures -- including Attorney General Bill Lockyer, long
criticized by medical marijuana advocates as too flaccid in supporting
the law.

Santa Cruz city council members are not limiting themselves to angry
words. City officials announced this week that they will join a
medical marijuana giveaway at City Hall next week to send a message to
the Justice Department that medical marijuana is welcome in Santa Cruz.
Santa Cruz residents approved Proposition 215, the 1996 medical
marijuana initiative, by a 74% margin. In 2000, the city council
approved an ordinance allowing medical marijuana to be grown and used
without a prescription.

"It's just absolutely loathsome to me that federal money, energy and
staff time would be used to harass people like this," vice mayor Emily
Reilly told reporters as she announced she would participate in handing
out medical marijuana to sick people at City Hall.

While the city of Santa Cruz has passed a resolution denouncing the
raid, the City Hall action is not an official city event. City
officials and members of the public will be allowed to use city
facilities for the protest, the city attorney explained.

The DEA's San Francisco spokesman pronounced himself flummoxed by the
announced event. "Are you serious?" Richard Meyer asked the Associated
Press when told of the giveaway. "That's illegal. It's like they're
flouting federal law," he said. "I'm shocked that city leaders would
promote the use of marijuana that way. What is that saying to our
youth?"

[Editor's note: It could well be saying to our youth that marijuana,
like morphine, cocaine, sedatives, tranquilizers and many other
substances, has legitimate medical uses and that drug war
totalitarianism should not interfere with medical care.]

If the DEA is "shocked" at the Santa Cruz giveaway, California Attorney
General Bill Lockyer has aroused himself long enough to send a letter
to DEA head Asa Hutchinson and Attorney General John Ashcroft
complaining about the raids and asking for a meeting to discuss the
matter.

"I must question the ethical basis for the DEA's policy when these
raids are being executed without apparent regard for the likelihood of
successful prosecution," Lockyer wrote. "Whether or not the US
Attorney decides to file in the Santa Cruz case, my Department is aware
of other recent DEA-initiated raids involving as few as six marijuana
plants in which no charges were ever filed, and no convictions were
obtained. Conversations with DEA representatives in California have
made it clear that the DEA's strategic policy is to conduct these raids
as punitive expeditions whether or not a crime can be successfully
prosecuted."

The US Attorney's office in San Francisco announced this week that
Valerie and Michael Corral, the operators of WAMM, would join the
growing list of those raided but not prosecuted. Such tactics make
sense for the DEA in California. Raids effectively destroy the
operation in question, and the federal government doesn't have to worry
about actually winning a case in a state where the electorate voted for
medical marijuana.

"A medicinal marijuana provider such as the Santa Cruz collective
represents little danger to the public," Lockyer wrote, "and is
certainly not a concern which would warrant diverting scarce federal
resources away from the fight against domestic methamphetamine
production, heroin distribution or international terrorism to cite just
a few far more worthy priorities."

Whether the Lockyer letter will lead to any concrete response remains
to be seen. According to Lockyer spokeswoman Hallye Jordan, DEA head
Hutchinson called to acknowledge receiving the letter, but no meeting
has been set. There has been no response from the Justice Department,
Jordan told DRCNet. And like her boss, Jordan used the medical
marijuana issue to plump for increased funds for the state's Campaign
Against Marijuana Production (CAMP), which she characterized as
"seizing a million plants from Mexican narco-traffickers, as opposed to
medical marijuana that would benefit seriously ill and dying patients."

"We are pleased to see the Attorney General finally responding to this
crisis," said ASA executive director Stephanie Sherer. "We hope he
will follow up," she told DRCNet.

While Lockyer scribbled to the feds, medical marijuana supporters took
to the streets in cities in Northern California and across the country
last weekend, demonstrating at federal buildings in 15 cities and the
Justice Department in Washington, DC, Sherer said.

More protests are scheduled for September 23 at the sentencing hearing
for convicted medical marijuana grower Bryan Epis, who faces a federal
mandatory minimum prison sentence. A coalition led by ASA will lead
those protests. But now, given Thursday's raid on Genesis, immediate
attention will turn to Monday's emergency response protests. "We
really want to get people to turn out, even if it's just a few of you,"
said Sherer. "Last week, we had two people in with a sign in front of
the federal building in Austin, and they were quoted on the AP wire."

As California's political class slowly mobilizes in support of the
state's medical marijuana law, as editorial page writers chime in to
denounce the raids, and as medical marijuana supporters and their
allies take to the streets, the federal government may have finally
found the confrontation it has been so assiduously seeking.
 
 


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Comments

city hall giveaway date

DATE: Tuesday, September 17, 2002
TIME: 3:00pm
ADDRESS:
Santa Cruz City Hall
809 Center Street
Santa Cruz, CA
 

How to Help

Although there are many issues at hand like States rights, legalization of drugs, DEA harassment etc. and although a lot of us are extremely angry at the Feds and their goons for picking on sick people, at the medicine handout we need to be very focused and send a clearly defined POSITIVE message that reflects the sentiment of the greatest number of people in our community:

WE SUPPORT THE FREE DISTRIBUTION OF MEDICAL MARIJUANA TO TERMINALLY ILL PATIENTS WITH PRESCRIPTIONS FROM THEIR DOCTOR.

WAMM’s how to help page: www.wamm.org/howcanihelp.htm

1. Communicate in all forms with our political leaders. (Call ‘em all, most of the time you actually get to talk to people.)

Ask our senators to please pass H.R. 2592 States Rights to Medical Marijuana Act

Senator Barbara Boxer: Washington #: 202-224-3553 San Francisco #: 415-403-0100
Senator Dianne Feinstein #: 202-224-3841
Congressmen Sam Farr #: 429-1976 www.house.gov/farr/

California Government:

Governor Gray Davis –San Francisco Office 415-703-2218
Attorney General Bill Lockyer 1-800-952-5225 press 1 then press 7 to leave a message for him.

doesn’t hurt to call these guys and thank them...
Senator Bruce McPherson: 916-445-5843
Assemblyman Fred Keeley: 916-319-2027

2. Write to main-stream magazines like Time. If only fifty people write to Time, chances are at least one will get printed and the entire nation will learn how strong a large number of people feel.

3. Donate money to WAMM.

4. Come to the medicine giveaway next Tuesday. WAMM desires a huge turnout of peaceful, focused people. They will get it.

Once again, this is our mantra at the give-away:

WE SUPPORT THE FREE DISTRIBUTION OF MEDICAL MARIJUANA TO TERMINALLY ILL PATIENTS WITH PRESCRIPTIONS FROM THEIR DOCTOR.
 

Judge Dredd

> Conversations with DEA representatives in California have
> made it clear that the DEA's strategic policy is to
> conduct these raids as punitive expeditions whether or
> not a crime can be successfully prosecuted."

Funny, I thought vigilanteism was one of the great sins in a "nation of laws". I guess it's okay as long as you have a badge.

We knew this was the case, of course. But it's wonderful to have Lockyer on the record as confirming this.

The DEA is now our judge, jury, and executioner. Openly.
Yep, what a great country. Iraq is a "rogue state"? Try America. (BTW, why is America a "nation" and Iraq merely a "state"?)

With disturbingly increasing frequency, police at all levels conduct GROSS violations of the very foundations of their own Constitution - the bedrock of all law in Amerika - and other than us "radicals", no one even notices.

People just keep working at their jobs, drinking their coffee, reading the Times, watching CNN, and thinking that everything's fine.

Like Germany before the rise, and Rome before the fall.

-Van
 

Real Local Action Needed Here

Solidarity with folks in Petaluma and elsewhere is important. Equally important is to demand a real and not just a symbolic one-time response such as the Tuesday distribution at City Hall.

Two years ago, city politicians and bureaucrats essentially criminalized the major marijuana buyers club in town (Cannibis Pharmaceuticals) with a flawed law, zoning restrictions, and the failure to declare a medical emergency as was done in other cities.

Other cities (either Oakland or San Francisco) have, I understand, made land available for growing medical marijuana. Nevada is proposing legislation to authorize state distribution.

I'm no big fan of state-sponsored stuff, but in this case, it's important to have the DEA face real opposition in its search-and-destroy missions.

When Councilmember Fitzmaurice was approached on this issue at the Neighborhood Organizations Forum on Thursday night, he refused to discuss it, just as he and the Council refused to act two years ago. We need local action on this issue. Fast local action.

Local organizations like SCAN, Peoples Democratic Club, SEIU, etc. have been endorsing Fitzmaurice and other recycled candidates (like Rotkin and Matthews) who have supported the Drug War locally and taken no local action against it. Today the Green Assembly meets at 4 PM at Louden Nelson Center to vote. The public is welcome to attend and supporters of medical marijuana should come to this event and the Greens endorse a candidate who will actually act on this issue.

Steve Argue and Thomas Leavitt would provide strong leadership to support a meaningful response other than simply letters, hand-wringing, and one-time symbolic events.
 

HUFF-be-gone

Norse is once again cleverly trying to associate himself with a good cause, while at the same time making digs at people that are doing something truly courageous. HUFF never gives a little pat on the head to any positive effort except their own. The HUFFists are despicable and are far worse than any John Ashcroft, terrorist, or DEA goon, because they work within our community, undermining positive efforts day in and day out.

Although the HUFFists have been asked nicely by WAMM to stay away from the medicine handout, my suspicion is that they will once again prove their disrespect for others and their unwillingness to cooperate with anyone who is not one of their lockstep goon squad.

We shall see what happens at the handout, and for those who can not make it to the protest, you can be sure that I will accurately report on HUFF mischief.

And being a Green, I will be voting against any candidate who in any way supports HUFF’s destruction of downtown, and urge all other Greens to do the same. We must act now to stop the local hate-mongers.
-Stivey
 

you know... stuff

> Norse is once again cleverly trying to associate himself
> with a good cause

Grind that axe, baby.

> The HUFFists are despicable and are far worse than any
> John Ashcroft, terrorist, or DEA goon, because they work
> within our community, undermining positive efforts day in
> and day out.

Uh, I'll take obstructionist hippies over armed soldiers as a problem any day. I don't need kevlar and a .50 to defend myself from Norse.

>Although the HUFFists have been asked nicely by WAMM to
> stay away from the medicine handout

Can we get a WAMM or HUFF member to confirm this? Robert, Becky, confirm/deny? Just for the record.

>, my suspicion is that they will once again prove their
> disrespect for others and their unwillingness to
> cooperate with anyone who is not one of their lockstep
> goon squad.

Can't just agree to disagree, huh?

Norse has a point though - if the city council does in fact remain hostile to the presence of medical marijuana clubs inside of city limits, this too should be known so that next week's public display of *apparent* support for WAMM - a county operation well outside of SCruz city limits - isnt mistaken for innocence within their strongest sphere of influence.

WAMM deserves the council's support, yes. But so do the past in-town clubs. The council deserves props for standing with WAMM, but if they also deserve jeers for hypocrisy then so be it.

I wasn't around for the zoning battle that bureacratically drove out the local clubs. Only heard references to it. Anyone here able to give us an informed overview?

> and for those who can not make it to the protest, you can
> be sure that I will accurately report on HUFF mischief.

Ah, now that's the kind of talk I like to hear! Particularly since I can't cover it - already agreed to guest on KZSC at the exact same time. Do take pictures, woodja? If you don't have any kind of camera, I can provide you a free disposable, and I'll cover developing if need be. Let me know?

> And being a Green, I will be voting against any candidate
> who in any way supports HUFF’s destruction of downtown,

Um, pardon my ignorance, but how do you vote *against* a candidate? To my knowledge, you can only vote *for*.

Out of curiousity who WOULD you vote for? Lately I can't find anyone who doesn't deserve to be summarily excluded from my consideration for at least 1 reason.

> We must act now to stop the local hate-mongers.

Oh, yeah, you're one to talk. One would almost think someone took out a contract on Norse's character, and that you picked it up.

-Van
 

In Response

To my knowledge, no WAMM member has requested "HUFF members" not attend the medical marijuana distribution Tuesday. (By the way, it is 3 PM as posted or 1:30 p.m. as I heard from another source?) In fact, numerous WAMM members commended me for speaking out at City Council last Tuesday. I'll be playing my interview with two of them on today's (10 am -1:30 pm) show.

It is true that I have been critical of Valorie Corral and WAMM's failure to publicly support a broad front of other medical marijuana clubs, and all the clubs generally to support a broad front for the decriminalization of marijuana generally (as, I hear, is being attempted in Nevada).

"Stivey the Truthlover" apparently didn't show at the Green Assembly meeting yesterday, where a Green Party foul-up postponed endorsements for two weeks (special meeting to be held Saturday Sept 28 4 PM Louden Nelson Center, open to the public). I certainly endorse his campaign to write appropriate officials (never a bad thing), to contact news magazines, and to attend and support the Tuesday 3 PM giveaway.

I also encourage folks to financially support anti-Drug War groups (not just WAMM), and to demand immediate strong local action to protect the health, lives, and property of vulnerable people (as well as of the general population). This might also involve ending the Drug War in Santa Cruz, at least as far as marijuana goes. Stopping, for instance, felony busts of young people downtown for small sales of marijuana as part of the "Clean Away the Undesirables" merchant-pleasing mischief.

Fitzmaurice, Rotkin, and Matthews have done nothing to stop the Drug War and very little to meaningfully protect the majority of medical marijuana users. On the contrary, they've supported the Police Chief Belcher every time he's held out his hand. Panhandling from highly paid city officials apparently is completely acceptable and not covered by the Downtown Ordinances.

Cutting Belcher's $150,000+ salary and that of City Manager Wilson, RDA Head Cirillo, City Attorney Barisone, Parks & Rec Director Lang's replacement, etc. and putting that money into paying for medical workers and a City-run space to grow and distribute medical marijuana would be a nice first step.

Hopefully the Greens will support a medical marijuana emergency declaration. However since they haven't clearly and publicly repudiated Fitzmaurice on his systematic human rights violations against the homeless these last four years, I'm not terribly hopeful that that will mean much if the Council majority chooses to ignore it. It unfortunately says volumes that the Greens can even consider a Fitzmaurice endorsement after his blatant betrayal and violations of the Green Party platform.

We also need some good information on alternatives to criminalization for hard drugs like heroin, which also has vital but prohibited medical uses for pain control. I've heard lots of anecdotal stuff about Holland, Germany, and Switzerland, but does anyone have any hard facts? If so, please call in to my radio show (Free Radio Santa Cruz 96.3 FM, 427-3772, Thursdays 6-8 PM, Sundays 10-1:30 PM).

Regarding marijuana, it's probably time for some old-fashioned, unapologetic smoke-in's (in some public park where those with smoke allergies are advised in advance).

Fight back against DEA terror, City Council complicity, and general apathy with some mass protests locally? If Santa Cruz leads (as it did in the medical marijuana fight), other cities and states may follow.
 

confrontation, indeed

The confrontation I want to see is a straight-ahead challenge of the Federal authority over food and drugs -- legal and illegal -- on constitutional grounds in the Supreme Court. Alcohol prohibition required a constitutional amendment, which ultimately had to be repealed because (everyone say it with me) prohibition does not work, causing more harm than it could possibly prevent. So what solid constitutional basis could the Federal government possibly have to support the Drug War and the recent raids in naked contempt of State law? I looked at the law, and it appears to be based on four tent-poles:

1. The Federal government is charged with "promoting the general welfare."
2. The Federal government is charged with "regulating interstate commerce."
3. It is so difficult to distinguish between intrastate and interstate drug traffic as to require all drug traffic to be treated as interstate, thus coming under Federal authority.
4. In treaties, we have agreed with other countries to crush the ilicit drug trade, so we have to honor the agreements.

Do those reasons work for you? Not me! I think all four poles are so flimsy as to be inadmissible in any law school's MOOT COURT, for cripessakes! So I want to see some talented lawyers take the Drug War apart in front of the Justices, in full view of the American public. Then we'll see if we're a nation of law or a former nation. And if the latter, what a confrontation THAT will be. Fortunately, California would be a top 5, world-class country in its own right. We started out as the Bear Republic, and if the Federal government doesn't start acting in a way consistent with the constitution, we may end up as the Bear Republic. Stay tuned, as it appears this revolution WILL be televised.
 

correction

I can make Tuesday's dispensation after all, since it's 3p and not 7p like I was thinking (the normal city council meeting time). Woohoo! Guess they're doing it between the afternoon and evening sessions.
 

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