DEA to California Medical Marijuana Patients: Drop Dead 10/4/02

Drug War Chronicle, recent top items


recent blog posts "In the Trenches" activist feed


In the wake of the DEA raid on the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana (WAMM) dispensary in Santa Cruz a month ago, California Attorney General Bill Lockyer bestirred himself long enough to dash off a letter to DEA administrator Asa Hutchinson and his boss, US Attorney General John Ashcroft, asking the feds to please butt out. The letter, which also went to all US Attorneys in California and the three DEA offices in the state, called the raids "wasteful, unwise and surprisingly insensitive," since California law allows the use of marijuana for medical purposes.

The WAMM raid, Lockyer wrote, called into question the federal-state partnership to fight drug trafficking. "The apparent decision by the DEA to put any kind of priority on such raids demonstrates a lack of good judgment and seriously threatens to wreck the historic productive partnership of the DEA and California's state and local law enforcement, undermining our efforts to fight dangerous drugs and the major narco-terrorist organizations that manufacture and distribute them," Lockyer told the feds.

Lockyer asked for a meeting with federal officials to discuss the problem. He hasn't gotten a meeting, but he has now received a response from Hutchinson, and neither Lockyer nor the state's medical marijuana community will be pleased. The DEA will continue to raid marijuana operations, Hutchinson said, and will refuse to recognize any distinction between recreational and medical marijuana. "As long as marijuana remains a Schedule I controlled substance, (the Drug Enforcement Administration) will continue its enforcement efforts targeting groups and individuals involved in its distribution," Hutchinson wrote in a September 30 letter to Lockyer.

Hutchinson also repeated the agency's dogmatic denial that such a thing as medical marijuana even exists. "Your repeated references to 'medical' or 'medicinal' marijuana illustrate a common misperception that marijuana is safe and effective medicine," Hutchinson wrote. "The scientific community has never determined this to be the case."

Hutchinson added that the DEA is "obliged by law" to seize marijuana even if no prosecution results, as is apparently the case with WAMM and with San Diego cultivator Steve McWilliams, whose garden was seized last week with no charges filed. He also contended that California's medical marijuana law is being "abused to facilitate traditional illegal marijuana trafficking and associated crime."

But medical marijuana advocates pointed out that many patients grow for themselves with no money or drugs changing hands and that some dispensaries, including WAMM, accepted no payment for providing medicine. Lockyer spokesperson Hallye Jordan told the San Diego Union Tribune Lockyer's office was still reviewing the letter but was pleased to get a response, no matter what the content. "The lines of communication are open," she said. "At least we're talking."

That may be good enough for Lockyer, but it's not good enough for the state's large and increasingly angry medical marijuana community. The stage appears to be set for a messy confrontation pitting the federal government against the state government, the federal government against the medical marijuana movement, and the medical marijuana movement against the state government, at least to the degree it refuses to protect the state's estimated 30,000 medical marijuana users.

-- END --
Link to Drug War Facts
Please make a generous donation to support Drug War Chronicle in 2007!          

PERMISSION to reprint or redistribute any or all of the contents of Drug War Chronicle (formerly The Week Online with DRCNet is hereby granted. We ask that any use of these materials include proper credit and, where appropriate, a link to one or more of our web sites. If your publication customarily pays for publication, DRCNet requests checks payable to the organization. If your publication does not pay for materials, you are free to use the materials gratis. In all cases, we request notification for our records, including physical copies where material has appeared in print. Contact: the Drug Reform Coordination Network, P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036, (202) 293-8340 (voice), (202) 293-8344 (fax), e-mail [email protected]. Thank you.

Articles of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of the DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.

Issue #257, 10/4/02 DEA to California Medical Marijuana Patients: Drop Dead | Federal Parole Bill Orphaned with Death of Sole Sponsor -- Activists, Prisoners Look to Other Bills, Other Sponsors | Canadian Government Announces Parliament to Consider Marijuana Decriminalization -- US Worries, Blusters | Widely Hyped Ecstasy Study Full of Holes, Critics Say | In Brazil, "Parallel Power" of the Narcos Flexes Muscle on Eve of Elections | Montana Drug Policy Task Force Calls for More Treatment and Prevention, War on Meth | The November Coalition Hits the Road: Journey for Justice Aims to Mobilize Support for Freeing Drug War Prisoners | Newsbrief: Peruvian Coca on Rise as Country Revamps Coca Eradication Effort | Uribe Wants to Recriminalize Drug Possession in Colombia | Newsbrief: California Governor Vetoes Bill Allowing Syringe Sales, Vetoed Industrial Hemp Study Earlier | Newsbrief: California Town to Pay $3 Million, Apologize for Drug Raid Death | Newsbrief: And the Killing Continues | Newsbrief: Nevada -- The Survey Says... Legalize It! | Newsbrief: University of Missouri SSDP, NORML in Marijuana Decriminalization Petition Drive | Newsbrief: US Explores Drugging Rioters | Newsbrief: Drug Warrior Maginnis Leaves Family Research Council | Newsbrief: DPA Campaign Provides Tools to Fight School Drug Testing | Calling on Students to Raise Your Voices for Repeal of the HEA Drug Provision | Do You Read The Week Online? | Action Alerts: Rave Bill, Medical Marijuana, Higher Education Act Drug Provision | The Reformer's Calendar

This issue -- main page
This issue -- single-file printer version
Drug War Chronicle -- main page
Chronicle archives
Out from the Shadows HEA Drug Provision Drug War Chronicle Perry Fund DRCNet en EspaŮol Speakeasy Blogs About Us Home
Why Legalization? NJ Racial Profiling Archive Subscribe Donate DRCNet em PortuguÍs Latest News Drug Library Search
special friends links: SSDP - Flex Your Rights - IAL - Drug War Facts the Drug Reform Coordination Network (DRCNet)
1623 Connecticut Ave., NW, 3rd Floor, Washington DC 20009 Phone (202) 293-8340 Fax (202) 293-8344 [email protected]