Pubdate: Wed, 02 Oct 2002
Source: Santa Cruz Sentinel (CA)
Copyright: 2002 Santa Cruz Sentinel
Author: Brian Seals
Bookmark: (Cannabis - California)


Federal drug agents will continue to raid marijuana plots, medicinal and 
otherwise, the agency's director said in a letter to state Attorney General 
Bill Lockyer.

"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," agency head Asa 
Hutchinson wrote in a Sept. 30 letter.

Hutchinson's letter, obtained by the Sentinel, was in response to a Sept. 6 
letter from Lockyer in which he criticizes a DEA raid on the Davenport 
garden of the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana, an area medical 
marijuana cooperative.

Hutchinson questioned the medical validity of marijuana, saying it hasn't 
been approved by the Federal Drug Administration. And he said 
medical-marijuana laws in the states where it has been approved are being 
"abused to facilitate traditional illegal marijuana trafficking and 
associated crime."

Medical-marijuana backers, like the alliance, say patients grow pot for 
themselves and no money changes hands.

Hutchinson added that the federal agency is obliged by law to seize plants 
even if no prosecution results.

That is the case with the cooperative, whose co-founders, Mike and Valerie 
Corral, were arrested during the raid, then released. Agents seized 167 
plants, but no charges have been filed. Attorneys for the cooperative filed 
motions in federal court last week for the return of the plants.

After the raid, Lockyer wrote: "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."

Hutchinson responded that the DEA continues to partner with state and local 
agencies around the state in eradicating marijuana.

California is one of eight states that has approved marijuana for medical 
use, placing the state law at odds with the federal government.
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