Last week, the DEA raided 10 medical cannabis dispensaries in Hollywood. Sounds devastating, right? It is, but believe it or not, some really positive responses followed these federal robberies of patients and providers:
1) The LA City Council was already coming around on medical marijuana and getting ready to regulate dispensaries, but these DEA attacks really pissed them off. In particular, Council Member Dennis Zine, a former LAPD officer, quickly became a champion for medical cannabis, as cited in an AP story that appeared in more than 200 papers across the country:
Councilman Dennis Zine, who earlier in the day wrote a letter to DEA Administrator Karen Tandy asking the agency to stop the raids, called the federal agents “bullies.”
“Instead of using resources to go after drug dealers ruining neighborhoods and poisoning school kids, they’re going after individuals dying of cancer and suffering from AIDS who need cannabis to have any type of appetite,” Zine said.
Are DEA raids worth hearing an ex-LAPD officer call the feds bullies? No, but it’s a step in the right direction. And it shows that even law enforcement agents can come around on this issue when we spend some time to educate them.
Photos courtesy of NoHoDamon. Thanks!
2) Soon after the DEA began raiding California Patients’ Group (CPG), a dispensary on Santa Monica Blvd that has since closed, Americans for Safe Access activated its response network. Within a couple hours, 200 patients and advocates were protesting in front of CPG. Later on, dozens of protesters locked arms and blocked the exits to the building, trapping the DEA inside. Five of these protesters were arrested, but they successfully negotiated for the release of the dispensary employees that had been detained.
These actions were incredibly inspiring, but what do they have to do with Oakland?
Well, all of this has caused me to wonder. How would Oakland react to this level of federal harassment? Which City Council members would be willing to stand up to the DEA and the Bush administration? Are there 200 residents who would drop everything to protest in front of one of the 4 Oakland dispensaries during a DEA raid? And is there anybody in Oakland who would lock arms and risk arrest to escalate the protest?
But I can’t do this alone. It’s time to prepare and step up to this challenge. Because no matter how compassionate Oakland dispensaries are, and no matter how much support we get from the city, there’s no telling what the DEA will do next.