SAGINAW, MI/SAN DIEGO, CA -- Coordinated and lively protests were carried out today by medical marijuana patient advocates in both Saginaw, Michigan, and San Diego, California, against the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) for several raids it conducted earlier this month, despite a Justice Department policy issued in October 2009 discouraging such raids. The Michigan Medical Marijuana Association organized the Saginaw protest march and Americans for Safe Access organized a rally at the federal courthouse in San Diego.
On July 6th, the DEA raided John Roberts and Stephanie Whisman, two licensed medical marijuana caregivers from Thomas Township, MI. Then, the next day, on July 7th, the DEA raided the Covelo, CA home of Joy Greenfield, the first collective to apply for the Mendocino County
Sheriff's cultivation permit program. Greenfield even had county-issued "zip-ties" on her plants designating their legality under state and local law. Then, on July 9th, the DEA conducted multiple raids on medical marijuana dispensaries in the San Diego area, arresting 12 people. Among other items seized in the raids, the DEA took money, medical marijuana and cultivation equipment, as well as financial and private patient records.
"Patients are fed up with platitudes and half promises from the Obama Administration," said Eugene Davidovich of the San Diego chapter of Americans for Safe Access. "We're here at the federal courthouse to vocally oppose continued attempts to subvert state law, and to push for
a federal policy that actually protects patients in this country."
John Roberts, who was well below the legal limit as a caregiver in Michigan, produced oil-based medical marijuana that was used by seriously ill patients, including a 6-year-old girl with brain cancer. The young girl, who because of the DEA raid will now go without her medication, successfully used the oil to treat her headaches, to help her sleep, and as an appetite stimulant. Roberts had held a protest less than a week before the July 6th DEA raid to bring attention to ongoing law enforcement harassment of patients in the Saginaw area.
The most recent federal raids and subsequent protests come as Acting DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart is preparing to be confirmed by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Leonhart is a Bush Administration appointee who was Deputy Administrator under then-DEA Administrator Karen Tandy. Both were responsible for more than 200 raids in California and other medical marijuana states during the Bush Presidency. In her capacity as Acting Administrator, Leonhart also moved to block medical marijuana research in January of this year by refusing to grant an application
that would have expanded therapeutic studies in the U.S.