Pubdate: Sat, 29 Jul 2006
Source: CounterPunch (US Web)
Copyright: 2006 CounterPunch
Author: Fred Gardner
Bookmark: (Cannabis - California)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)
Note: Fred Gardner is the editor of O'Shaughnessy's Journal of the
California Cannabis Research Medical Group.


Raids on July 6 targeted 11 San Diego cannabis dispensaries. Owners of
some of the dispensaries not raided that day were heard to say that
they were spared because they were running proper establishments. As
if the DEA made such distinctions! On July 21 the remaining clubs were
visited by law enforcement and told to close or else. They have all

"Two DEA agents accompanied by one local cop went around to the
clubs," says organizer Dion Markgraff. "They didn't have search
warrants. They threatened to arrest everyone if they didn't shut down.
Places that let them in had all their medicine stolen. One or two
places didn't let them in. Two or three others got word and shut down
before they came around. At one of those places the DEA called the
landlord and pressured him to make sure they wouldn't re-open."

DEA agent Dan Simmons characterized the shut-downs as "courtesy
visits." Dispensary staff were told that they were violating state as
well as federal law. San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis is
taking the position that all sales of marijuana are illegal -despite
several court rulings to the contrary and the wording of the Health &
Safety Code as modified by Senate Bill 420 and the appellate court
ruling in People v. Urziceanu. Dumanis also refuses to accept that
California law authorizes the use of marijuana as a treatment for
conditions she doesn't deem serious. In statements to the media she
has said that she supports medical marijuana "wholeheartedly" - but
dispensaries represent an abuse of the law, something the voters
didn't have in mind when they passed Proposition 215 in 1996.

The district attorney of San Diego is misstating the facts. Ten years
ago this week the biggest story in California was the raid that shut
down Dennis Peron's San Francisco Cannabis Buyer's Club. On Sunday
morning August 4, some 100 agents from the California Bureau of
Narcotics Enforcement, supervised by John Gordnier, the Senior
Assistant Attorney General who had obtained the court order, raided
1444 Market Street. Simultaneously, five smaller BNE squads raided the
homes of Buyers Club staff members in and around the city. The raiders
wore black uniforms with BNE shoulder patches. They seized 150 pounds
of marijuana, $60,000 in cash, 400 growing plants, plus thousands of
letters of diagnosis that citizens had brought from their doctors and
left on file at the club.

"It was strange not seeing any San Francisco police," remarked Basile
Gabriel, one of the SFCBC employees detained for questioning that
morning, "it felt like the state had invaded the city." Mayor Willie
Brown said the high-profile bust had been carried out unbeknownst to
him, and he accused Lungren of "Gestapo tactics." (The club's front
door had been battered in and the raiders hung black drapes over the
windows to conceal what they were doing from civilian observers on
Market Street.) The San Francisco Medical Society protested the
confiscation of medical records as a violation of doctor-patient
confidentiality. Dennis Peron charged that closing him down was "step
one in Lungren's No-on-215 campaign. It was timed to kick off the
Republican convention in San Diego. They want to make the war on drugs
a big issue because what else have they got?"

A few of Dennis's so-called allies in the Yes-on-215 campaign did not
want to see him reopen. They argued that ongoing publicity around his
operation would jeopardize their chances of success at the polls on
November 5. Bill Zimmerman went so far as to urge the northern
California ACLU chapter not to file an amicus brief on Dennis's
behalf. "Every time I debate Brad Gates," said Zimmerman, referring to
the Orange County Sheriff, a No-on-215 leader, "he always begins by
saying, 'This bill was written by a dope dealer from San Francisco,'
and emphasizes the looseness with which the Cannabis Buyers Club was

On Monday, Sept. 30 the Chronicle, the LA Times, and many other papers
in California began running a Doonesbury strip in which Zonker's
friend Cornell says, "I can't get hold of any pot for our AIDS
patients. Our regular sources have been spooked ever since the
Cannabis Buyers' Club in San Francisco got raided..."

Attorney General Lungren feared the impact these strips would have on
the Prop 215 campaign. He urged the publishers who carry Doonesbury to
spike the entire set. "Alternatively," he suggested in a letter that
was widely run as an op-ed piece, "your organization should consider
running a disclaimer side-by-side with the strips which states the
known facts related to the Cannabis Buyers Club." According to
Lungren, the BNE investigation had established that the club "sold
marijuana to teenagers. Sold marijuana to adults without doctors'
notes. Sold marijuana to people with fake doctors' notes using phony
doctors names and in some cases written on scrap paper. Allowed many
small children inside the club where they were exposed for lengthy
periods of time to second-hand marijuana smoke. Sold marijuana to
people whose stated ailments included vaginal yeast infections,
insomnia, sore backs and colitis -hardly terminal diseases. Sold
marijuana in amounts as large as two pounds, greatly exceeding the
club's 'rules.'"

Lungren called a press conference for Tuesday, Oct. 1, to reveal some of
the evidence his investigators had assembled against Peron and the SF
Cannabis Club. Unfortunately, he lost his cool during the
question-and-answer session. "Skin flushed and voiced raised, Attorney
General Dan Lungren went head-to-head with a comic strip Tuesday..." is how
Robert Salladay began his Oakland Tribune story. Don Asmussen in the SF
Examiner lampooned "Lungren's War on Comics." The New York Times devoted
two full columns to the brouhaha, including a quote from Peron: "Crybaby
Lungren... I think he's just gone off the deep end. Waaa!"

According to the polls, a gradual decline in support for Prop 215
ended Oct. 1. Lungren had Peron arrested Oct. 5 on criminal charges
that included conspiracy to distribute marijuana -one more effort to
make the vote a referendum on the proprietor of the San Francisco
Cannabis Buyers Club. Former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop carried
the No-on-215 message in a final TV ad. Press conferences denouncing
Prop 215 were held by Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey and Joseph Califano,
president of the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at
Columbia University. Former presidents Ford, Carter and Bush released
a letter calling for its defeat. Democratic Senators Barbara Boxer and
Dianne Feinstein opposed 215, along with 57 of 58 district attorneys
and all the law-enforcement lobbies.

We, the voters passed it by a 56-44 margin. We were trying to tell the
government something about marijuana, based on our collective
experience and understanding. That message has been ignored. How dare
they call this system "democracy?" What a bunch of liars are at the

Listening to Acomplia

Patient One is a 53 year-old-man who has been taking Acomplia for 10
days. He would like to bring his weight down about 25 pounds. He
obtained the drug -which works by blocking cannabinoid receptors in
the brain-via an onl-line Canadian pharmacy. Acomplia, made by
Sanofi-Aventis, was approved for sale n England in late June. U.S.
approval is expected this Winter. Advocates say Acomplia not only
facilitates weight loss, it leads to a healthier lipid profile.
Skeptics say that blocking cannabinoid receptors can lead to various
metabolic problems.

Patient One paid $422 for three boxes containing 28 tablets each. He
is taking one 20 mg tablet/day in the late morning. He says he sensed
an effect by dinner the first night. "This drug doesn't take away your
appetite like Meridia, which I once used. With Acomplia you have to
consciously remind yourself to stop eating because you're on a diet.
But it's no problem to stay stopped because you have no craving." This
pattern has continued: "I tell myself 'Stop' and then I don't want to
eat another bite."

How has Acomplia affected his mood? "I think I'm a little more on
edge. Nothing dramatic."

Pain level? "I'm noting a lot of aches in my upper torso, but then
again I've just gone back to the gym. Or the drug could increase
muscle tension."

Has he observed any other effects? "GI -a secretory diarhhea. But then
again, I've found a new sushi house And coffee! One cup and I'm
flying! This has been consistent."

A potentiating effect on Peet's? "I don't even use Peet's. I have a
weak brew here at the house."

Patient One is a Californian who has a doctor's approval to use
marijuana, but he hasn't done so since starting his Acomplia regiment.
He has some marijuana on hand, the effects of which he is familiar
with, and we look forward to his report on if and how being on
Acomplia affects his response to cannabis. Other Acomplia users are
invited to send their feedback (see below).

Fred Gardner is the editor of O'Shaughnessy's Journal of the
California Cannabis Research Medical Group.
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