Wednesday, April 2, 2008

LA City Council to Vote Today to End DEA Raids on Medical Marijuana

Americans for Safe Access*
*For Immediate Release:* April 2, 2008

*LA City Council to Vote Today to End DEA Raids on Medical Marijuana
*/Press conference with Councilmembers Zine, Hahn & Rosendahl precedes
resolution vote

/*Los Angeles, CA *-- The Los Angeles City Council will vote today on a
resolution introduced by Council members Dennis Zine, Janice Hahn, and
Bill Rosendahl calling for an end to federal interference in
California's medical marijuana laws. The resolution, introduced February
27th, supports State Senate Joint Resolution 20 (Migden), which urges
Congress and the President to enact legislation requiring federal law
enforcement to respect state medical marijuana laws, to cease raids of
medical marijuana dispensaries that are operating legally under
California and local law, and to return any assets seized from medical
marijuana dispensaries and collectives to the states in which they are
located. Advocates have calculated that dispensaries in California
contribute as much as $100 million in sales tax revenue to the general fund.

*What:* Press conference to highlight vote on Zine-Hahn-Rosendahl
*When:* Wednesday, April 2, 2008 at 9:45am
*Where:* 3rd Floor Media Room (Behind Council Chambers), Los Angeles
City Hall, 200 N. Spring St.
*Why:* To highlight City Council vote at 10am on resolution calling
for an end to DEA interference in state law
*Who:* Council members Dennis Zine, Janice Hahn, Bill Rosendahl &
Lisa Sawoya, a former dispensary operator raided by the DEA

"We welcome the help and leadership of the Los Angeles City Council,"
said Don Duncan, California Campaign Director with Americans for Safe
Access. "Local officials standing up to the DEA, and demanding an end to
its harmful tactics, is exactly what is needed if we are to effectively
implement California's medical marijuana law."

Ever since the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) increased its
attack on California's medical marijuana law, Los Angeles has been a
focus of federal attention. In 2007, the DEA raided more than thirty
medical marijuana dispensaries in the Los Angeles area and sent letters
to at least 200 landlords of dispensaries, threatening them with
criminal prosecution and seizure of their property. At the height of DEA
activity in Los Angeles, on July 25, 2007, the DEA raided several
facilities the same day that the City Council was voting to establish
dispensary regulations. Also on that day, Council member Zine, a
Republican and former LAPD officer, sent a letter to then-DEA
Administrator Karen Tandy urging her to end federal interference in
local and state laws.

Since then, Mayors from Oakland, Santa Cruz and West Hollywood have sent
letters to House Judiciary Chair John Conyers (D-MI) calling for
Congressional hearings on the matter. Several other local governments
have joined Los Angeles in condemning federal interference, including
San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley. The latest public call to end
federal interference comes from the state legislature, with State
Senator Carole Migden's (D-San Francisco) introduction of Senate Joint
Resolution 20 earlier this year. The bill cleared the Senate Health
Committee last Wednesday and will be heard next by the Senate Judiciary

Advocates and more than a half-dozen medical marijuana dispensary
operators, who were victims of DEA interference, testified last month
before the State Board of Equalization. Raided dispensary operators,
like Lisa Sawoya of Los Angeles, complained that despite abiding by
state law, including the required collection and payment of sales tax,
the state has failed to protect these health care facilities. And, as
California attempts to deal with its fiscal crisis, the combined annual
investment of $100 million in sales tax revenue from the state's
approximately 400 dispensaries is considerable and worthy of protection.

The DEA's most recent attack on medical marijuana providers occurred on
March 20th in Los Angeles, when six facilities were raided on the same
day. Dispensary operator Virgil Grant, the victim of the latest round of
raids, testified last week at a City Council meeting, calling on them to
help end federal interference. Grant was paying tens of thousands of
dollars in sales tax to the state. "It's very difficult to comply with
state law with the DEA continuing to raid legally-sanctioned
dispensaries," said Grant. "It's time for the Los Angeles City Council
and other local governments do their part to end DEA interference."

Further information:
Zine-Hahn-Rosendahl Resolution:
ASA Fact Sheet on Escalation of DEA Raids:
ASA Fact Sheet on Sales Tax:
ASA Fact Sheet on Senate Joint Resolution 20:

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