San Jose Police Chief Says ‘No’ to DEA Medical Marijuana Raids

Press Release October 9, 2002
Media Contact

Tony Newman at 510-208-7711

In the most recent example of defiance of Federal infringement on states’ rights, San Jose Police Chief William Lansdowne has yanked his officers off the Drug Enforcement Administration task force that raided a Santa Cruz medicinal marijuana club a month ago. According to a recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle, Lansdowne, a 32 year veteran police officer and Chief of San Jose’s Police Department for the last 4 years, stated that police officers in San Jose had more important things to do than harass pot clubs operating within California State Law.

“The DEA’s raids on the medical marijuana patients and hospices seem to have shocked the consciences of a lot of people whose consciences aren’t easily shocked,” said Ethan Nadelmann, director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “I suspect that other police chiefs will soon follow in the footsteps of Chief Lansdowne.”

While it is legal for patients suffering from debilitating diseases to us marijuana for medicinal purposes in California, there are still penalties at the federal level. Lansdowne said the DEA-led raid put his officers in the middle of a “clear conflict” between state and federal law. “I think the priorities are out of sync at the federal level,” said Lansdowne, who said he agrees the state’s voters made the right decision in legalizing marijuana for medical use under regulated circumstances.

Despite numerous raids and attacks on California cannabis clubs, local and national mobilization efforts have not dwindled. Following simultaneous September 23 protests in Sacramento and Washington DC, which culminated in the arrests of dozens of activists opposing misguided federal medical marijuana policies, patients, caregivers, and advocates continue to stand strong. “We will continue to uphold the rights of seriously ill patients and the will of California voters in the face of governmental persecution,” said Steph Sherer, Executive Director of medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access. “It is time for the drug warriors to end their war on the most vulnerable and defenseless of our citizens.”

On Tuesday September 24 Federal Agents arrested medical marijuana grower Steve Williams while uprooting his plants. This came on the heels of the DEA’s September 6 raid of the Wo/Men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana in Santa Cruz, CA, a hospice where 85 percent of patients are terminally ill.

Lansdowne joins California Governor Grey Davis, California Attorney General Bill Lockyer, and dozens of community leaders in supporting AIDS and cancer patients and other ill individuals legally using medical marijuana under Proposition 215, a state law passed in 1996 allowing the cultivation and use of marijuana for medical purposes.

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

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