Tony Newman at 510-208-7711
SACRAMENTO-Momentum and outrage continue to build in California and elsewhere in the wake of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s September 6 raid of the Wo/Men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana in Santa Cruz, CA. As reported on CNN, and in The New York Times, USA Today and others, WAMM distributed marijuana to cancer, AIDS, and other terminally ill patients on the steps of Santa Cruz city hall yesterday, backed by Mayor Christopher Krohn and several city council members, in a show of support for the patients and caregivers affected by the raid. As local and state leaders continue to defend the will of California voters in support of medical marijuana, activists from around the state and nation are planning direct action events to express their anger at the DEA raid.
This morning, talking with Ed Baxter on KGO radio, Gov. Grey Davis expressed his “compassion for people who are sick and are properly using marijuana under our law,” adding that “the people passed this law,” referring to Proposition 215 in 1996, which allows the cultivation and use of marijuana for medical purposes under California law. State Attorney General Bill Lockyer, going a step farther, condemns what he calls, “a disheartening addition to a growing list of provocative and intrusive incidents of harassment by the DEA in California.” Despite the support of state officials, DEA spokespeople continue to support the WAMM raid, one of 6 such raids on dispensaries in the past year.
Drug Policy Alliance Executive Director Ethan Nadelmann, who helped organize support of Proposition 215, echoed the sentiments of Lockyer. “It is time for the federal government to abandon its fanatical and inhumane war on the sick and dying who use marijuana as medicine,” said Nadelmann, “It is time for John Ashcroft and Asa Hutchinson to listen to the people and leadership of California.”
Steph Sherer, Executive Director of the medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access agreed. “As Governor Davis and others have made clear, the leaders of California will uphold the rights of the sick and dying, not to mention the will of the voters to use whatever medicines work best for them. This is a war that has to end.”
Events protesting the DEA’s actions are planned for Sacramento and Washington, DC for Monday, September 23, the day of the sentencing of Bryan Epis, the first Medical Marijuana provider convicted since the Supreme Court ruled against a medical necessity defense. He faces a 10-year mandatory minimum for growing medicine for himself and a few other patients. The event will start with a press conference and rally outside Epis sentencing hearing at the Federal Building at 501 I Street at 9 am, followed by a demonstration at the south side of the Capitol at noon and later a direct civil disobedience action. Over 1,000 people are expected to attend, and events are planned in Washington, DC to coincide with those in Sacramento.