Pubdate: Wed, 16 Apr 2008
Source: San Francisco Examiner (CA)
Copyright: 2008 San Francisco Examiner
Author: David Smith, The Examiner
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal)


SAN FRANCISCO - Mayor Gavin Newsom called for an investigation into 
"threatening" letters from the federal Drug Enforcement Agency to 
local landlords who rent space to medical marijuana dispensaries and 
called upon Capitol Hill officials to convene a congressional hearing.

The state allows the sale of marijuana for medical uses, but the drug 
remains illegal under federal law. In late December 2007, the DEA 
mailed letters to property owners in The City warning that federal 
agents could seize the assets of property owners who rent space to 
marijuana dispensaries in San Francisco.

In an April 8 letter to U.S. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. 
John Conyers, D-Mich., obtained by The Examiner, Newsom requested 
"immediate oversight" of the federal agency's "on-going interference 
with implementation of the law."

"San Francisco strongly opposes Drug Enforcement Agency interference 
in medical cannabis dispensing and the recent sensational threatening 
letters to these property owners threatening asset forfeiture and 
imprisonment," Newsom wrote.

The City has more than 30 medical marijuana dispensaries, according 
to local advocates. In the wake of the December letters, city 
officials have moved swiftly to show support for San Francisco's pot clubs.

In February, the Board of Supervisors passed a resolution authored by 
Supervisor Chris Daly reaffirming The City as a sanctuary for medical 
marijuana and condemning DEA actions against property owners.

Berkeley has also passed a resolution against the DEA's tactics, 
condemning raids of medical marijuana dispensaries, and state Sen. 
Carole Migden, D-San Francisco, has introduced a bill asking 
President Bush and Congress to pass legislation requiring the DEA to 
respect medical marijuana laws in states. And in December, Conyers 
issued a statement after reports of the letters surfaced and said the 
committee had already questioned the DEA and would specifically 
question the letters.

Shona Gochenaur, the executive director of Axis of Love, a medical 
marijuana activist group, said closing down the dispensaries causes 
medical marijuana patients to buy elsewhere.

"When you close down safe-access centers our patients go onto the 
black market," Gochenaur said. San Francisco landlords who lease to 
medical marijuana dispensaries feel "very intruded upon" by the DEA letters.

Calls to the Drug Enforcement Agency for comment were not returned. 
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