San Francisco DEA Raid Defies White House Statements
Last week, DEA raided a San Francisco medical cannabis dispensing collective, prompting a backlash from advocates urging the Obama Administration to implement its policy change aimed at ending the raids that were a signature of the Bush Administration. DEA stormed Emmalyn’s, a dispensary licensed by the City of San Francisco, seizing medical cannabis, money and other property, but making no arrests. The raid came only one week after U.S. Attorney Eric Holder clarified the Obama Administration “new American policy” on medical cannabis, claiming the raids were at an end, and that DEA would only raid those establishments that were outside state law.
After the raid, DEA made public statements claimign the dispensary was violating state laws, but they refused to provide any evidence to the public. In addition, neither San Francisco police, the District Attorney, nor any other state law enforcement bodies were notified by DEA of the raid or of any complaints of state law violation. Speculation circulated that a lag in sales tax payments may have prompted the raid, but the Board of Equalization confirmed that there were no complaints against Emmalyn’s, and that even if there had been discrepancies, BOE Director Betty Yee said they certainly would not have involved the DEA. Emmalyn’s attorney, Terence Hallinan, who is also the former District Attorney of San Francisco, said his clients were operating in strict accordance to state law, and called the DEA raid a “slap to President Obama’s face” in light of his very public statements on an end to these Bush Administration tactics.
“Any violations of California’s medical marijuana law should be the purview of local and state officials,” said Kris Hermes, spokesperson with Americans for Safe Access (ASA). “Medical marijuana patients and providers deserve a chance to defend themselves under state and local law, which is not possible once the federal government gets involved.”
In response, public officials decried the DEA raid on Emmalyn’s. California Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-SF) was among them. And San Francisco Supervisor Chris Daly, in whose district Emmalyn’s operated, responded by stating, “I support safe and adequate access for all patients in the city… As such, I condemn any force which is used to disrupt or prevent patients from accessing their medicine.”
In 2008, the California Attorney General Jerry Brown issued guidelines recognizing the legality of medical cannabis dispensaries under state law, and providing recommendation for their compliance with those laws. However, in 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in /Gonzales v. Raich/, that the government had the /discretion/ to enforce federal marijuana laws even in medical cannabis states. “Of course the federal government has the authority to raid dispensaries in California,” said Caren Woodson, ASA’s Government Affairs Director in Washington, D.C. “The question is why does it have to exercise that discretion, especially in light of the Obama Administration’s commitment to reverse that practice.” Since the /Raich/ decision, more than 150 raids have occurred in California, mostly during the Bush Administration.
*For further information:
*Video footage of the DEA raid:
White House statement on ending federal enforcement:
CA Attorney General Guidelines issued in August 2008:
Charles C. Lynch Sentencing Postponed
Charles C. Lynch, <http://www.friendsofccl.com/news.htm>the medical cannabis dispensary operator who’s DEA raid and trial has created a national media storm, was unexpectedly not sentenced last week after the Los Angeles federal judge assigned to his case refused to do so until the government clarifies its newly revised position on medical cannabis.
Lynch, who operated his dispensing collective under permit from the City of Morro Bay and with the explicit support of the Mayor, City Council members, and the Chamber of Commerce, was convicted last August of five federal counts, including distributing marijuana, conspiring to distribute marijuana and providing the drug to people under the age of 21. He was unable to present any evidence of his this support, or his compliance with California medical cannabis laws in the federal trial. The courtroom was crowded with Lynch’s supporters, many of whom wore green ribbons to show their support.
U.S. District Judge George H. Wu postponed the sentencing until prosecutors could provide a written clarification from the Justice Department about the government’s position on medical cannabis prosecutions. President Barack Obama and the United States Attorney General have both said that the Justice Department has no plans to prosecute dispensary owners who comply with their state law. Prosecuting U.S. Attorney David P. Kowal tried to claim that there was no change in policy, and that Judge Wu should move forward with sentencing. However, Wu referred to the massive media around the change in policy, saying “I read and heard that something has changed and I want to know what it was… I want it in writing.” An April 30 date was tentatively set to sentence Lynch, though even that date is up in the air depending on when Holder’s office responds.
In an astounding attempt to misrepresent the words of President Barack Obama and the Attorney General in order to continue with the Bush raids, U.S. Attorney Thomas P. O’Brien,. whose office prosecuted Lynch, said that “In every single (medical case) case we have prosecuted over the past several years, the defendants violated state law as well as federal
law.” How that can be the case when these collectives, including Lynch, were regulated and issued permits by local governments, is inconceivable. Truly the lies from DEA have gotten so absurd, they’ve lost all credibility and are in need of a massive overhaul. In postponing sentence, JudgeWu said the Justice Department’s clarification would likely not change Lynch’s conviction, but it could affect his sentence. Here is some of the media that picked up on the story of Charles C. Lynch:
Time Magazine story <http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1888172,00.html>
CNNs Larry King Live <http://www.emailthis.clickability.com/et/emailThis?clickMap=viewThis&etMailToID=1062626464>
Al Roker for MSNBC <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Cist_J_KoI&feature=channel>
ABC’s 20/20 with John Stossel
The New York Times
The LA Times
The Associated Press
Drew Carey’s Reason TV
Cannabis Chemical Kills Brain Cancer, Says Study The April issue of the /Journal of Clinical Investigation/ reports new research out of Spain that suggests THC, the active ingredient in cannabis, appears to prompt the death of brain cancer cells.
Researchers worked with mice and analyzed THC’s impact on tumor cells extracted from two patients who were diagnosed with a highly aggressive form of brain cancer, finding that THC introduced into the brain triggered a cellular self-digestion process known as “autophagy,” Guillermo Velasco, from the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in the School of Biology at Complutense University in Madrid, who co-authored the study, said that his team had investigated and isolated the specific pathway by which this process unfolds, and noted that THC appears “to kill cancer cells, while it does not affect normal cells.”
The Spanish researchers analyzed brain tissue in the two cancer patients, taken both before and after a 26- to 30-day THC treatment regimen, and found that THC eliminated cancer cells while it left healthy cells intact. They also identified and tracked the signaling route by which the process was activated, and the findings were then replicated in mice. “These results may help to design new cancer therapies based on the use of medicines containing the active principle of marijuana and/or in the activation of autophagy,” Velasco said. Dr. John S. Yu, co-director of the Comprehensive Brain Tumor Program in the Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, called the findings “not surprising,” and noted that this study is just the most recent of a number of previous studies which indicated that THC has an anti-cancer effect.
Dr. Yu said that the study does not suggest that one should expect smoking cannabis to cure their cancer, but rather that THC is a significance source of further study in anti-cancer therapy and treatment.
Laguna Beachs Stall on Dispensing Collectives, Kern County May Repeal
In Laguna Beach, there is some indication that City Council wants to create regulations for dispensing collectives, though it also appears to be actively stalling the progress. This doesn’t bode well for Sheridan Linehan, who gave public comments at a recent council meeting. Linehan uses medical cannabis in a battle with bone cancer, and wants to form a dispensing collective with permission from the city.
In February, Laguna Beach enacted a moratorium on dispensaries, though Linehan already has spent thousands of dollars over several months attempting to satisfy 12 pages of city-required permit stipulations. The council had considered having regulations drafted by February 2010, which elicited frustrations from residents for being a stall tactic. However, the Council’s sympathies seemed to shift in response to the recount of personal experience with medical cannabis from Council member Verna Rollinger, who asked city staff to speed the measure along so that a final version was reached by mid summer. In Kern County, the County Counsel is recommending that the ordinance which regulates and issues permits to medical cannabis dispensing collectives be repealed, claiming city officials may be at risk from federal agents for implementing the state’s medical cannabis laws. The argument, which is unfortunately still all too common, has already been defeated by both state and federal courts in /Garden Grove/ <http://www.safeaccessnow.org/downloads/GardenGroveDecision.pdf> and /San Diego / <http://www.chrisconrad.com/expert.witness/SDvNORML08-050333.pdf>cases.
It is uncertain if Supervisors will back County Counsel’s recommendations without a better knowledgeable of the law. It’s a common theme with local action on medical cannabis by cities and counties; the local government’s attorney brings to Supervisors or Council Members a list of unwarranted concerns based on an incomplete understanding of California’s law and why it does not conflict with federal law. Council members then become scared and pass ordinances to the detriment of the community and the patients they represent. It’s absolutely critical that Kern County residents communicate with Supervisors to ensure the regulations are kept intact, and they understand the true need for patient access.