By a 23-15 vote, the California State Senate yesterday approved a "joint resolution" urging the federal government to stop Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) raids on medical Marijuana patients and providers. The Sen. Mark Leno-authored resolution additionally calls for the nation to "create a comprehensive federal medical Marijuana policy that ensures safe and legal access to any patient that would benefit from it."
Marijuana advocates say recent enforcement activity, including DEA arrests following a raid in Upper Lake, Calif. last week, underscore the need for Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 14, introduced by Leno in June. Although both President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have signaled willingness to change federal policy on medical Marijuana, the Administration hasn't come forward with an actual implementation plan.
"Patients and providers in California remain at risk of arrest and prosecution by federal law enforcement and legally established medical Marijuana cooperatives continue to be the subject of federal raids," Leno said.
In the past two weeks, federal agents have conducted multiple raids on medical Marijuana providers in both California and Colorado. On Aug. 12, DEA, FBI, IRS, and local police agents carried out a paramilitary-style raid on a medical Marijuana provider in Los Angeles. Government spokespeople claimed that the raided facility had failed to submit state sales tax revenues, despite a lack of corroboration by the California Board of Equalization.
On Aug. 14, FBI agents raided a medical Marijuana provider in Denver, Colo., resulting in the facility shutting down and the loss of access for legal patients. On Aug. 18, five people were arrested in Upper Lake, on federal charges after DEA agents seized 154 plants from what defendants claim was a medical Marijuana grow site. The Upper Lake search warrant has been "indefinitely sealed," effectively stopping any scrutiny of the propriety of the government's actions.
"Not only do we need an end to these harmful raids and unnecessary interference with state medical Marijuana laws," said Don Duncan, California director of Americans for Safe Access
(ASA), a nationwide medical Marijuana advocacy group and sponsor of SJR 14. "The entire country would benefit from a sensible, comprehensive medical Marijuana policy."
SJR 14 urges President Obama and Congress to "move quickly to end federal raids, intimidation, and interference with state medical Marijuana law." It goes further by asking the government to establish "an affirmative defense to medical Marijuana charges in federal court and establish federal legal protection for individuals authorized by state and local law..."