Pubdate: Thu, 1 Jan 2009
Source: Coastal Post, The (CA)
Copyright: 2009 The Coastal Post
Author: Jacqueline Patterson
Bookmark: (Asset Forfeiture)
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal)


Many Bay area medical cannabis dispensary operators, including Marin's
own lyrical Lynette Shaw, rallied in Downtown San Francisco on
December 20th in protest of the Drug Enforcement Administration's
recent execution of another attack on medical cannabis dispensaries.
In an effort to overcome the obstacles raised in the raid tactics the
DEA employed in earlier attempts to circumvent a compassionate
community of medical cannabis connoisseurs, the feds have resorted to
sending letters to landlords who rent commercial space to medical
cannabis providers, first in Southern California back in July and more
recently here in the Bay area. Landlords who own space occupied by
medical cannabis dispensaries in Marin, San Francisco, and Alameda
counties received letters the second week in December.

So far, only one landlord has been tried and convicted In May of 2007,
62 year-old Thomas Grossi Sr. was ordered to forfeit nearly $400,000
and sentenced to 30 months in federal prison. When released from
prison, Grossi will be required to complete a three-year period of
supervised release. Such harsh punishment (in contrast there was a
case in this country in which a pedophile was given probation because
the judge deemed him too short to go to prison) can only be construed
as a deterrent to any property owner who might think to advance the
safe legal (under state law) distribution of medical cannabis. Surely
productive law-abiding citizens will not risk their liberty or even
their personal assets when threatened with such great risk of loss and

It would seem that inspiring landlords to evict tenants who cultivate,
process, or distribute medical cannabis might be more cost effective
and less labor intensive than the oft employed raids, but this new
strategy has not only instigated potential legal defenses of the
medical cannabis community, it has also drawn the attention of members
of Congress, many of whom already opposed the use of brutal force
against patients who were complying with local law.

Respectively, in a stroke of legal genius, the Union of Medical
Marijuana Providers filed a lawsuit on December 6th that charges the
DEA with violation of California Penal Code ? 518, "which provides
that 'extortion is the obtaining of property from another, with his
consent, or the obtaining of an official act of a public officer
induced by wrongful use of force or fear or under color of official

The lawsuit attracted the attention of Michigan Congressman John
Conyers who, on December 7, issued the following statement, "I am
deeply concerned about recent reports that the Drug Enforcement
Administration is threatening private landlords with asset forfeiture
and possible imprisonment if they refuse to evict organizations
legally dispensing medical marijuana to suffering patients."

The House Judiciary Committee Chairman followed the comment by stating
that the Committee had already questioned the DEA in regards to the
agency's departure from the limitations of federalism with respect to
California' Compassionate Use Act.

Interestingly, the UMMP lawsuit was prefaced by a letter dated October
19th, 2007 to Timothy Landrum, Special Agent in Charge of the Los
Angeles Field Division Office of the Drug Enforcement Administration.
The correspondence claims that on October 11, 2007 the DEA retaliated
against the Arts District Healing Center, a medical cannabis
dispensary that legally operated in Los Angeles for about 18 months,
because that particular collective was the solitary seeker of legal
protection from the landlord letters that were sent in August.

Since its inception in 1973, the Drug Enforcement Administration has
adamantly maintained that "marijuana" is a Schedule I drug with no
approved medical value, only recently conceding (notably, in
Showtime's independent film "In POT We Trust") that "smoked marijuana"
has "no medical value" and is rightly confined to its Schedule I status.

If that is the case, however, then why are tins of machine rolled
"marijuana cigarettes" sent to the five remaining patients who receive
freeze-dried marijuana from the federal government under the
investigational new drug protocol first implemented by Robert Randall
in the mid-seventies? For nearly twenty-five years, the physicians of
patients who had happened upon the evidence that cannabis alleviated
symptoms of disorders or diseases which conventional pharmatherapies
failed to adequately treat were invited to wade through years of
paperwork so that they might one day receive, for said patient, shiny
tin cans of ten-year-old marijuana.

Because the seeds and stems are left in the smokeable plant matter,
aging patients, already in pain from rare diseases such as nail
patella syndrome and multiple congenital cartilaginous exostoses, must
unroll, clean, moisturize, and reroll their medicine into what only
the American government refers to as "marijuana cigarettes" because
that is the only method of ingestion that our government approved.

"The rights of one American belong to all," states George McMahon in
his gravelly wizened voice but another George disagreed. McMahon was
the last patient to be granted government shwag (which keeps him alive
and kickin) before President George Bush Sr. shut the protocol down in
response to an overwhelming flood of applications from AIDS victims
dealing with the devastating effects of the disease, and the harsh
side effects of the chemical cocktails meant to preserve the patients

For many of those patients marijuana meant the difference between life
and death and Former President Bush closed the door on their only
avenue of legal access to safe effective medicine at that time but
when the MANN closes the Door, the rebels open a window and
compassionate Californians built a movement that has inspired a nation
(slowly) to follow.

In July, a custody hearing was held regarding my seven-year-old son; I
didn't have the physical or financial capacity to get to the hearing,
nor could I, at that point in time, care for my brave compassionate
little boy. So custody was awarded to the petitioning party and as
much as that hurts, it happens every day to thousands of medical
cannabis patients all over the nation.

In this particular instance, the judge reprimanded me for using my
children as "props" at a marijuana rally at which I spoke to garner
support for the medical cannabis bill for which Missouri patients had
secured a committee hearing.

My parents smoked marijuana recreationally for years when I was a
child and I swore that I would never hide my use of the herb from my
own children. On the contrary, I have made every effort to teach my
children American values, which include making bad laws better, not
that a judge in Iowa would ever understand that.

The "Conservative" camp in America's politic circus contends that
legalizing medical cannabis would set a bad example for the children
but as Patients Out of Time (which is what the POT in "In POT We
Trust" really stands for) Director, Mary Lynn Mathre points out, we
should be teaching our children that "medicine should only be used
when needed and at the appropriate dosage. Medicine should not be used
for fun." If the abuse of pharmaceutical drugs prevalent in youth
culture today is any indication, I think that message may have gotten
lost in the mail.

Meanwhile, medical cannabis providers will brace themselves against
the raids, from which they now have a bit of a holiday reprieve, and
continue the struggle to provide patients with cannabis and edibles
because as Mickey Martin of former Tainted fame says, "providing safe
effective reliable medicine to people who need it, gives us a purpose.' 
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