Margaret Dooley at (858) 336-3685 or Tony Newman at (646) 335-5384
SAN DIEGO, July 24 — Agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) quietly closed down San Diego’s remaining medical marijuana dispensaries on Friday, leaving the area’s sick and dying residents without safe access to their medicine. In response, medical marijuana patients will gather at the City Council meeting tomorrow morning to ask the city for support.
The San Diego residents will ask the City Council tomorrow to instruct police to enforce local and state laws, which allow the medicinal use of marijuana. Patients will also ask the city to return to the table to develop regulations for dispensaries within city limits.
Margaret Dooley, San Diego coordinator for the Drug Policy Alliance, said “Rather than focusing on violent or organized crime, the DEA has decided to terrorize San Diego’s patients. One terrible result of the closures will be to force sick and dying patients to buy their medicine on the black market, which can be a dangerous and unreliable alternative.”
“We need to stop raiding and start regulating,” Wendy Christakes, a medical marijuana patient and San Diego co-coordinator of Americans for Safe Access, which works to ensure safe and affordable access to medical cannabis. “Local officials are under both moral and legal obligations to develop a safe and secure system for the distribution of medical marijuana to eligible patients. Failing to do so has put us all at risk of DEA harassment and worse.”
The Friday “visits” by the DEA continued a series of raids that began in December of last year, almost immediately after County Board of Supervisors voted to sue the state to strike down Prop. 215, the 1996 voter-approved ballot initiative that gives patients in California the right to use marijuana for medical purposes with a doctor’s recommendation. The initiative passed in San Diego County by 52%.
In early July, the Drug Policy Alliance, Americans for Safe Access and the American Civil Liberties Union filed to intervene in the lawsuit on behalf of medical marijuana patients and their caregivers. Get more information on the intervention and the pending lawsuit.
The Drug Policy Alliance is the leading organization in the United States promoting alternatives to the war on drugs. The Alliance led the campaign to pass Prop. 215 in 1996, has successfully defended medical marijuana patients’ rights in federal court (Conant v. Walters), and has also protected those rights through local initiatives (Prop S in San Francisco) and state legislation (SB 420).