DEA Agents Raid San Francisco Medical Marijuana Club, Confiscate Plants
Drug Enforcement Administration agents yesterday raided the Sixth Street Harm Reduction Center, a San Francisco medicinal marijuana club, confiscating computers, paperwork, a pound of marijuana and 630 plants, the San Jose Mercury News reports. The agents also served seven other search warrants, arrested three men and confiscated a total of 8,300 marijuana plants (Reed, San Jose Mercury News, 2/12). The three men arrested, including the center's director and a High Times magazine columnist, were charged with cultivating more than 100 marijuana plants and maintaining a location to grow the drug. The arrests came about 12 hours before DEA Administrator Asa Hutchinson spoke yesterday at the city's Commonwealth Club (Zamora/Pena, San Francisco Chronicle, 2/13). Hutchinson addressed the DEA's role in drug enforcement and "specifically the legalization of marijuana for medicinal uses." He said, "We have to enforce the law. Science has told us so far there's no medicinal benefit for smoking marijuana" (Mason, AP/Contra Costa Times, 2/13). But DEA spokesperson Richard Meyer said the timing of the raids and Hutchinson's speech "was a coincidence," adding, "We wouldn't put the lives of our agents at risk just to impress an administrator" (San Jose Mercury News, 2/12).
In 1996, California voters passed Proposition 215, making California the first state in the country to approve the use of marijuana to relieve pain associated with chronic illnesses such as cancer and AIDS. But in May 2001, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a court injunction that barred the selling of medical marijuana, ruling that, under a 1970 federal law, marijuana has no medical benefits and cannot be prescribed by doctors (California Healthline, 1/9). Medical marijuana proponents "sharply den[ounced]" yesterday's raids, calling them a "poor-taste publicity stunt" (San Jose Mercury News, 2/12). Jeff Jones, head of the Oakland Cannabis Buyers Cooperative, said, "At a time when everyone is on alert for terrorism, the DEA has decided to go after chronically ill people who use marijuana" (San Francisco Chronicle, 2/13).
In other medical marijuana news, the San Diego City Council yesterday voted 7-2 in favor of implementing an identification card program that will permit "sick people or those who care for them ... to carry up to one ounce of marijuana" for medicinal purposes, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. The program, which was put together and will be funded by a citizens Medical Cannabis Task Force, will cost $20,000 to $30,000 and will include a 24-hour hotline to allow police to verify the identification cards. Cardholders caught with more than one ounce of the drug would have to prove to police their need for extra marijuana. As the card program would directly violate federal law on marijuana use, however, council member Brian Maienschein, who voted against it, said it is "improper" for the council to issue ID cards "until the courts resolve a conflict between state and federal" court rulings (Huard, San Diego Union-Tribune, 2/13).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.