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Medical marijuana campaign heats up

Medical marijuana users, grower/providers and their supporters served notice to the Bush administration, the Justice Department and the DEA on June 6, 2002 that the federal government's war on medical marijuana in the states will not be uncontested.
DEA offices and other federal buildings hosted a variety of protests, direct actions and civil disobedience in some 55 cities across the country. Arrests occurred in San Francisco and Washington, DC. The demonstrations, organized by Americans for Safe Access (ASA), a campaign of the Cannabis Action Network, told the DEA to "cease and desist" from persecuting medical marijuana patients and providers in those states where voters have opted for medical use.

In other cities such as Portland (OR), Seattle, San Antonio, Wichita, Tampa, Rock Island (IL) and Saginaw (MI) activists set up picket lines, public rallies and 'banner drops' in highly visible locations. The single largest demonstration was in Santa Rosa (CA) where more than 300 people showed up to protest DEA raids there the previous week.
Federal authorities responded in the weeks following by breaking the 'first rule of holes' - when you're in one, stop digging! Without evident shame or awareness, the aggressive federal offensive targeting medical marijuana providers, growers and patients in California has only energized common citizens and elected officials alike in support. A raid September 5th against the Santa Cruz Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana (WAMM) may mark the beginning of a real anti-federal mobilization of public indignation in California. On September 12th the DEA struck again, this time raiding the Genesis medical marijuana dispensary in Petaluma and an associated garden in Sebastopol.

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," announced vice mayor Emily Reilly about her participation in handing out medical marijuana to sick people at City Hall following the raid. More recently, Santa Cruz officials are considering officially deputizing the founders of WAMM, Michael and Valerie Corral, in an effort to stave off further federal harassment. "Deputy" status would put WAMM under the provisions of a federal law stating a person can't be sued for having a controlled substance if he or she is carrying it while "enforcing" local drug laws.

"While the country was on 'orange alert' on September 11, 30 DEA agents were busily plotting an attack on the medical marijuana community. President Bush warned us of an attack,but he didn't tell us it would be from our own government," said ASA executive director Steph Sherer. More protests were held on September 23rd at the sentencing hearing for convicted medical marijuana grower Bryan Epis, who received a 10-year federal mandatory minimum prison sentence.

California's political class is slowly mobilizing in support of the state's medical marijuana law while editorial page writers chime in to denounce the raids. With medical marijuana supporters and their allies taking to the streets, the federal government may have finally found the confrontation it has been so resolutely seeking.

(Source: DRCNet's The Week Online)

Related story: DEA Direct Action Day in Austin, TX

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