Medical Marijuana Advocates Respond to Aggressive Police Raids in San Jose
Patient advocates to descend on City Council meeting Tuesday & demand accountability
San Jose, CA -- Medical marijuana patients and advocates will descend on Tuesday's San Jose City Council meeting to convey their disapproval, and unwillingness to tolerate raids on medical marijuana dispensaries in their community.
Over the past month, the Santa Clara County Specialized Enforcement Team, a local multi-agency police force, has carried out several raids on medical marijuana dispensaries in the city, the most recent of which occurred last Thursday. After the City Council meeting, advocates will host a "Know Your Rights" training at 7:30pm and a meeting to develop a raid alert system.
What: Patient advocates target San Jose City Council meeting to urge an end to police raids and unnecessary harassment of the medical marijuana community
When: Tuesday, November 9, 2010 at 3:30pm
Where: San Jose City Hall, 200 East Santa Clara Street
"The City of San Jose must not be able to continue its harmful campaign against medical marijuana patients with impunity," said Lauren Vazquez, of the Silicon Valley chapter of Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the country's largest medical marijuana advocacy organization. "Patients are organizing to put a stop to this behavior and to make local officials accountable for the aggressive actions of their police." The "Know Your Rights" training, hosted by ASA, will be held after the City Council meeting on Tuesday, November 9th at 7:30pm at 2000 Senter Road in San Jose.
Medical marijuana patient advocates held a rally on October 14th, in response to the initial raids, but local police have continued their campaign to use aggressive force in an attempt to shut down state law-compliant facilities in the city. The first set of raids in early October, targeting patients and local delivery services, resulted in 22 arrests. The subsequent dispensary raids in mid and late-October resulted in at least a dozen additional arrests and the seizure of more than 100 pounds of medical marijuana and other property.
Santa Clara Police Chief Stephen Lodge who is behind the recent spate of raids stated that, "Those arrested have perverted the important role of a caregiver for seriously ill patients for their own financial gain," but has provided no evidence of wrongdoing. In fact, those arrested claim to be operating under Health and Safety Code Section 11362.775, which defines collective and cooperative association, not "caregiving," which is defined under a different statute of the Medical Marijuana Program Act, passed by the California legislature in 2003. With the absence of any evidence of state law violations, advocates are demanding that charges be dropped against all of those arrested.
The most recent raid, this past Thursday, on San Jose Patients' Group, came only two days after voters approved Measure U to tax the local sale of medical marijuana at levels as high as 10 percent, on top of the state's existing sales tax. The City Council is also deliberating on a local ordinance that would regulate and license what has grown to more than eighty dispensaries in San Jose. The next meeting, which will address the amount of tax to levy against patients, is scheduled for December 13th. "How can the City of San Jose impose an exorbitant tax on the sale of medical marijuana at the same time as arresting and prosecuting the same people for selling it?" asked Vazquez. "This inconsistent and misguided practice has to end."