Pubdate: Thu, 10 Oct 2002
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Copyright: 2002 Hearst Communications Inc.
Author: Mark Simon
Cited: WAMM ( )
Note: Mark Simon can be seen on The Chronicle's "Peninsula This Week" 
premiering 9 p.m. Tuesday on Peninsula TV, cable Channel 26, and on other 
local Peninsula community cable channels.
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


Chief Doesn't Want Them Raiding Pot Clubs

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.

Lansdowne said his four officers and one sergeant have better things to do 
- - - such as tackle the methamphetamine epidemic -- than harass local pot 
clubs, which are operating within state 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.

"The problem in California right now is methamphetamines, not medical 

Lansdowne said the DEA-led raid put his officers in the middle of a "clear 
conflict" between state and federal law.

In 1996, California voters approved Proposition 215, which permits local 
governments to regulate distribution of marijuana for medicinal purposes. 
Federal law outlaws marijuana use in any manner.

The federal government has argued -- and the argument has been upheld in 
federal court -- that U.S. marijuana laws override state or local ordinances.

A little more than a month ago, an armed and DEA-led task force raided the 
Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana in Santa Cruz, seizing 167 plants 
and arresting founders Mike and Valerie Corral.

WAMM has been operating since 1996 under the supervision and approval of 
city, county and local law enforcement officials. WAMM grows its own 
marijuana organically on its own farm.

"It's unfair to put our officers in a position of deciding how they're 
going to enforce a law that's in conflict with local law," Lansdowne said.

The San Jose officers had been assigned to the DEA's High Intensity Drug 
Trafficking Area task force, a unit that also included personnel from the 
Immigration and Naturalization Service, the FBI and the Santa Clara County 
sheriff's office.

DEA spokesman Rich Meyer would not disclose the size of the task force. A 
sheriff's spokesman said Santa Clara County deputies remain on the unit.

The San Jose officers have been reassigned to the department's own 
narcotics unit and the state Bureau of Narcotics task force.

The DEA's Meyer reacted diplomatically to Lansdowne's decision to withdraw 
his officers from the task force.

"He's certainly entitled to his opinions, and we have great respect for 
him, " Meyer said. "However, the federal law is very clear when it comes to 
marijuana, and our mandate is to enforce the laws."

Lansdowne, a 32-year veteran of the San Jose Police Department, the last 
four as chief, said his responsibilities are clear -- he must follow the 
state law.

"I think the public made the decision for us that if it's well-managed, 
it's legal," he said. "Our district attorney believes that, the state 
believes that, and I believe they're correct, so long as there are controls 
in place."

Incidentally, Proposition 215 passed with 81 percent of the vote in Santa 
Cruz and with nearly 63 percent of the vote in San Jose.
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MAP posted-by: Jo-D