Medical Marijuana Supporters Launch Hunger Strike Outside Former Cooperative in West Hollywood
Medical marijuana activists yesterday began an "open-ended hunger strike and encampment" at the West Hollywood Los Angeles Cannabis Resources Center, a cooperative that had supplied marijuana to individuals with chronic health problems before federal agents shut down the center last October, the Los Angeles Times reports. The activists launched the hunger strike to protest federal authorities who last week filed "forfeiture action" against the center (Reich, Los Angeles Times, 6/6). The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in May 2001 that under a 1970 federal law, marijuana has no medical benefits and doctors cannot prescribe the drug. In a raid last October, Drug Enforcement Administration agents uprooted 400 marijuana plants, removed growing equipment and seized computer files that contained the names and medical records of the center's 960 clients (California Healthline, 10/31/01). A federal jury will decide whether the government can seize the $780,000 in property. Participants in the hunger strike said that the government imposed the forfeiture to "harass marijuana supporters without risking a definitive setback in court." A spokesperson for the Los Angeles County U.S. Attorney's Office said that he could not "discuss the ... strategy" behind the government's decision (Los Angeles Times, 6/6).
The closures of medical marijuana cooperatives in California have forced "sick people ... to turn to street sources" for the drug or "simply suffer," Dr. Andrew Weil, director of the Program of Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, writes in a San Francisco Chronicle opinion piece. Weil adds, "As a physician, I am frustrated that I cannot prescribe marijuana for patients who might benefit from it. At the very least I would like to be able to refer them to a safe, reliable, quality-controlled source." He concludes, "So it comes to this: Desperately ill people, their friends, families and loved ones, standing outside DEA offices, pleading with their government not to deprive them of medicine that relieves their suffering. It should never have been necessary, and one can only hope that the administration and Congress will listen" (Weil, San Francisco Chronicle, 6/6).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.