Citizens Protest at 50 DEA Offices Nationwide

Press Release June 12, 2002
Media Contact

Steph Sherer at or Brant Olson at 510-872-7822

SAN FRANCISCO — Last week thousands of people who organized under the banner Americans For Safe Access (ASA) disrupted business-as-usual at 50 regional outposts of the Drug Enforcement Administration, including the Department of Justice in Washington, DC. The protests were organized to publicize an expected permanent injunction that was granted yesterday by US District Court Judge Charles Breyer which orders the Oakland Cannabis Buyers’ Cooperative plus other groups in Marin and Ukiah counties to stop distributing the medicine to certified patients. The June 6th day of action, which called on the DEA to “Cease and Desist,” resulted in the closure or slowdown of operations at numerous DEA offices and at least 18 arrests. It was the first coordinated nationwide day of protest against the DEA since the agency began raiding medical marijuana dispensaries in California last October.

Thousands of people nationwide participated in the protests that were organized in less than three weeks. Over 1500 people have pledged to resist the federal crackdown by disrupting business-as-usual at DEA offices the day after the next raid. “In the coming weeks and months we expect the DEA to attempt to close more dispensaries which serve seriously ill people,” says Hilary McQuie, Campaign Coordinator for ASA. “We are seeing rising enthusiasm to fight the government crack down.”

In addition to an emergency action plan to respond to the next raid, attorneys for the dispensaries plan to appeal the injunction to the Ninth Circuit Court on the grounds that the government lacks constitutional authority to intervene under the interstate commerce clause, 10th, 9th, and 5th amendments. No appellate decision is expected for another 10 months. In the meantime, medical marijuana supporters continue to mobilize for the worst. Now legal in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, dispensaries are the only safe source for seriously ill patients to access medical marijuana.

Highlights from the Protests:

San Francisco — More than 100 people staged a sit-in at the DEA’s local office resulting in eight arrests. Washington, DC — Ten people were arrested for using chains and pipes to lock themselves to the main entrance of the Department of Justice while 50 supporters cheered.

Los Angeles – Five supporters of the sale of marijuana for medical purposes at a West Hollywood building launched an “open-ended hunger strike and encampment” against federal authorities who last week filed a forfeiture action against the property.

Santa Rosa, CA — 300 people attended a rally and march to the Federal Building. The group intending civil disobedience blockaded the building’s entrance, but the Santa Rosa Police declined to arrest anyone for trespassing, as the DEA office had shut down for the day in anticipation of protests. Austin, TX – Activists hung a 34-foot banner from the Zilker Park moon tower. The banner read “Medicine” overlaid on a cannabis leaf. More details about each of the protests around the country can be found online at Americans for Safe Access is an aggressive grassroots campaign designed to force the federal government to stop its attack on patients and respect the rights of voters in States to choose medical marijuana policy.

Americans for Safe Access Demands:

  1. We demand that all prosecutions of medical marijuana patients, growers, and dispensaries cease immediately!
  2. We demand that President Bush & Attorney General Ashcroft declare a moratorium on the Federal anti-Medical Marijuana campaign.
  3. We demand President Bush declare his support for HR 2592, the States’ Rights to Medical Marijuana Act.

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

Sign up for updates from DPA.