Grow Love

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Don Duncans message to the patients...

from Don Duncan - ASA
Hello, LA-ASA members and allies. It has been a wonderful and terrible day for medical cannabis in Los Angles. Before this brief update, I want to say a special thank you to the hundreds of patients and advocates who turned out for meetings and protests today. I have attended countless political meetings about medical cannabis and protested outside dozens of DEA raids at medical cannabis facilities all over California. It meant the world to my colleagues and I at California Patients Group (CPG) to see the tremendous outpouring of support in our time of crisis today. More than a dozen protesters joined Dege Coutee in blockading the DEA at CPG today. Thanks to the protesters, including numerous CPG staff members, we were able to secure the release of all of the detained staff members, patients, and one arrested protester. Bravo! As of 11:30 PM, all but one of the five arrested protesters have been released. I am waiting patiently for the bail bondsman to secure the freedom of the last brave advocate.

There were between eight and ten DEA raids at medical cannabis facilities in Hollywood today. We have not yet determined how many arrests were made citywide. This is bad news for patients and providers, but let’s don’t forget how the day started. Today’s DEA sweep was timed to coincide with two landmark votes in Los Angeles and one in Washington, DC.

This morning, City Councilmember Dennis Zine, a former Los Angeles Police Officer, held an unprecedented press conference with Americans for Safe Access (ASA) to present a letter calling on the DEA to abandon its latest attack on landlords who rent to medical cannabis dispensaries and allow the City Council to move forward with regulations without further federal interference. City Council President Eric Garcetti joined patients and dispensary operators to support Zine’s courageous stance. Then, the City Council unanimously approved the first reading of a moratorium on new collectives that marks the first step towards sensible guidelines and greater legitimacy for collectives in the city. Those two things alone would have been a big step forward, but the City Council was not finished! One Councilmember after another stood up to join Councilmember Zine in signing the letter to the DEA and announcing their support for medical cannabis in Los Angeles. Finally, the Council unanimously approved a motion endorsing the Hinchey-Rohrabacher amendment in the US House, adding their considerable clout to the call to legalize medical cannabis at the federal level.

The LA City Council’s endorsement was not enough to secure a victory for patients in Congress, but it was a shot across the bow of the DEA and the Bush Administration. The outcome of today’s Los Angeles City Council meeting was abundantly clear for everyone to see – Los Angeles has turned a corner on medical cannabis and the endgame is now in sight! The DEA and their cohorts in the Los Angeles Police Department know the days of persecuting medical cannabis patients are almost gone. We are headed inexorably towards sensible guidelines and fully-sanctioned safe access in the state’s largest metropolis. Never doubt the significance of what has happened. As goes Los Angeles, so goes the county. We are making history and changing everything for patients all over the United States.

The DEA and the LAPD do not want us to succeed, so they have staged another sweep of local collectives in Los Angeles. At least eight locations were raided by the DEA and LAPD today. In an obscene and cynical twist, these raids were timed to coincide with the City Council vote to support legal medical cannabis in Congress! I spent all day protesting the raid at CPG and cleaning up the aftermath. I want to ensure you that CPG will continue to defend safe access and stop these unconscionable attacks on patients’ access. A handful of protesters at CPG decided to blockade the DEA and LAPD perpetrators and secure the freedom of staff, patients, and protesters. I can not express how impressed I was with the brave protestors who put their bodies ion the line. The demonstration was intense, and patients faced intimidation and violence at the hands of the LAPD. They behaved with bravery grace under pressure. I want to thank every one of them from the bottom of my heart.

On Friday, July 27, ASA is calling on medical cannabis supporters to protest the DEA raids at federal buildings nationwide. In Los Angeles, we will meet at the Edward R. Roybal Federal Building at 255 E. Temple St. in downtown Los Angeles to tell the DEA to back off. Then, we will march to the City Council meeting to demand they add action to their pro-medical cannabis words. Please bring signs, banners, and friends to the federal building and make you voice heard. This is a crisis moment in our community, and we need to stand up in record numbers.

I will send more information about today’s events and how they came to pass tomorrow. For now, I must focus on getting my last colleagues out of jail and safely home. Thank you again for your support today. Do not be discouraged... We are winning and today’s trouble is the DEA and LAPD’s last desperate attempt to stop us. Let’s finish this work together and make safe access a reality in Los Angeles!

Thank you,

Don Duncan


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