Tag Archives: Americans for Safe Access

Blogs worth reading from Oakland organizations

18 Apr

I was so excited last week to find out that TransForm had started a blog, and it got me thinking about the other great Oakland based organizations that have blogs. I link to some of them in my blogroll but felt it was worth a post to spread the word about these great blogs:

TransForm – TransForming the Bay Area: The blog is new so it’s hard to know the scope, but judging by its name and TransForm’s mission, it is likely to cover transportation and land use issues in the Bay Area.

Ella Baker Center – Ella’s Voice: Ella’s Voice covers a wide range of issues that the Ella Baker Center works on – the environment, criminal justice, civil rights, and much more. I’ve been following the blog for a while and have enjoyed the mix of story telling, action alerts, and policy updates. Continue reading

December 14-20 Oakland Political & Community Events

13 Dec

Wednesday, December 16h – AC Transit Meeting on Service Adjustment Plan

At AC Transit’s regular Board meeting, the Board will be voting on final approval of the service adjustment plan. They also will be voting on changing transfer policy so that transfers would be valid for 2 hours, instead of the current 1.5 hours. This was a change requested by many community members during the service adjustment planning process. This meeting will take place at 6pm in the 2nd floor board room, 1600 Franklin Street. You can read the agenda and see the relevant memos here.

Wednesday, December 16th – Americans for Safe Access Holiday Party

Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the organization I used to work for, is throwing its annual holiday party to celebrate a year of successes in the fight for safe access to medical marijuana. There will be a silent auction, appetizers, champagne, live music by the Brass Liberation Orchestra, and a screening of “Medical Cannabis in California: A report from the front-line.” The event is 21+ and you must bring your physician’s recommendation for access to vapor lounge. The party runs from 7:30pm-11:55pm at Maxwell’s Restaurant & Lounge, 341 14th Street at Webster in Oakland. For tickets and more information, visit ASA’s website or call ASA’s office at 510-251-1856.

Thursday, December 17th – BART Forum on Police Chief Selection

BART’s Chief of Police is retiring at the end of this year and BART is undertaking a nationwide search to replace him. This forum will be a chance for the public to provide input on the recruitment and selection of the new police chief. This forum takes place at 6:00 p.m. at Joseph P. Bort MetroCenter Auditorium, 101 8th Street in Oakland (across from the Lake Merritt BART Station). For more details, visit BART’s website.

Thursday, December 17th – Oakland Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee Meeting

Oakland’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) meets monthly to discusses bicycle and pedestrian issues. This month’s agenda looks very exciting, including discussions of Oakland’s Bus Rapid Transit Locally Preferred Alternative, the citywide parking study, and bicycle wayfinding signage project implementation. The BPAC is extremely inclusive – any Oakland resident who attends three consecutive meetings becomes a voting member of the committee – so if you’re interested in bike and ped issues, you should consider attending. The BPAC will be meeting from 5:30-7:30pm in Hearing Room 4 of City Hall, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza.

Thursday, December 17th – East Bay Young Dems Holiday Party: Cozy Cocktails

Join the East Bay Young Dems as we gather to celebrate our collective successes and prepare for the work ahead in 2010. Cozy Cocktails is an intimate get-together where fellow EBYD members (and prospective members!) can bond and really get to know one another over a cup of holiday cheer. Please bring a cocktail or some snacks to share. The party will be held from 6:30-9:00pm at the home of Hon. Abel Guillen, Peralta Trustee, in North Oakland. For the address, more details, and to RSVP, see the Facebook event.

Friday, December 18th – Citywide Holiday Open House

On Friday, December 18, stores and restaurants throughout Oakland will stay open late (from 6-8pm) to give you a chance to do some last-minute holiday shopping. Several of the stores will feature  live music, refreshments, discounts, gift wrapping, and a variety of other activities. Visit the website for a listing of all of the participating stores.

Oakland Medical Marijuana Resources

31 Jan

It’s surprising to me how many people find Living in the O by searching for medical marijuana (or something related to medical marijuana). The truth is that my blog is not the greatest resource for this issue. Sure, I’ve told some interesting stories about DEA raids, Dellums standing up for medical marijuana, and more, but there are far better places to find information about medical cannabis so I thought I’d share.

General Resource: If you want to get lost on a site for hours, reading about all aspects of medical marijuana – legal, political, medical, media – check out the site of Americans for Safe Access, the largest national member-based organization of patients, medical professionals, scientists and concerned citizens promoting safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic uses and research.

Oakland Dispensaries: Believe it or not, there’s a specific site for this – OaklandCannabisClubs.com – they have a listing and reviews of dispensaries in the East Bay. If you’re looking for dispensaries in the larger Bay Area or the state, California NORML has the most extensive listing. You can also find out about Oaksterdam at the now defunct Oaksterdam News website.

Oakland Medical Marijuana Doctors: If you’re trying to stay in Oakland, I recommend Compassionate Health Options in downtown. If you’re looking further away, CA NORML has a good physician listing as well.

Supporting Mickey Martin & Tainted: I wrote about this raid when it happened in September but haven’t provided an update since. The defendants have a hearing at the end of February and need support – financially and politically. Check out the Free Tainted website to get involved.

Medical Marijuana Blogs: Surprisingly, I haven’t found too many blogs devoted specifically to medical marijuana. Medical Cannabis: Voices from the Frontlines and Smokedot.org are good places to start.

I think that covers most of what people have been searching for. Let me know if I missed anything.

Speak Out Against DEA Attacks on Oakland Medical Marijuana Producer

29 Sep

Wednesday was a difficult day for the medical marijuana movement. In the morning, the DEA raided the longest standing medical cannabis dispensary in Sacramento. I wrote about that raid on the blog of the organization I work for, Americans for Safe Access, so I won’t dwell on it here.

Before noon though, I’d gotten word of another raid. The DEA was apparently raiding a facility operated by Tainted, Inc., a medical cannabis edible producer. I asked a coworker of mine to drive down to the site to confirm. As he was on his way, I got another call telling me that the DEA was raiding three Tainted facilities.

My coworker soon called me to confirm that it was a DEA raid (sometimes raids are misreported and we like to confirm by looking for the very noticeable DEA jackets). I told him about the other raids and asked him to talk to the agents to find out if anybody at any of the locations had been detained or arrested. After nudging the agents for a while, they finally told him that there were a dozen people being detained, but the DEA wouldn’t reveal whether anybody had or would be arrested. They simply told us to keep calling the Oakland courthouse to check if any arraignments were scheduled for the following day.

Let me back up a bit. You might have read the Chronicle’s or the Tribune’s articles about these raids, but surprise, surprise, neither of those stories give the full picture of what happened and what this means. The Trib’s headline refers to “drug-laced candies” while the Chron calles Tainted a “pot candy firm.” Both stories quote DEA agents extensively. Neither quotes a medical cannabis patient or advocate, despite the fact that ASA sent out a press release explaining the medical side of the story.

I know many of the people who were involved in Tainted quite well. They were doing this for all the right reasons and gave back to the community whenever they could. They spearheaded accurate labeling of medical marijuana edibles. All of their edibles are clearly marked with ingredient lists and warnings stating they are for medical use only. There’s also a clear warning on the back of their edibles -“Keep out of reach of children”:

Tainted Edible Packaging

Tainted Edible Packaging

Tens of thousands of Californians who use medical marijuana depend on these edibles. They either cannot or do not want to smoke for health reasons or edibles are more effective. While the healing effects of inhaled cannabis only last for a short time, the effects of ingested cannabis can last for several hours. Tainted was one of the most respected edible producers, and they supplied medical cannabis patients statewide.

Back to last Wednesday… throughout the day, we tried to gather more facts, but there was little more to find out. Tainted’s attorney didn’t even find out about the 10:00 a.m., Thursday arraignment of three alleged managers until the arraignment had already begun. Luckily, all three of them were released pending trial. They all face serious prison sentences if they are convicted.

Throughout the end of the week, I was in contact with Michael Martin, the owner of Tainted. The press stories have painted him as a fugitive, but the truth is that he just happened to be out of town when the raids occurred. He intends to turn himself in next week and fight the charges against him.

What struck me was Martin’s concern with his employees. He kept calling me to see if I had heard more about any arrests. He had his attorney attempt to intervene in the arraignments. He didn’t want to publicize anything until he knew that everyone was safe. He is certainly not what most people think of when they picture a drug manufacturer or drug dealer. And he doesn’t see himself that way either.

Needless to say, the medical cannabis community is pretty pissed off right now. These attacks on safe access need to end. In August, I told the inspiring story of a huge activist response to DEA raids in Los Angeles and asked, how far would Oakland go for medical marijuana? Now it’s time to find out. On Thursday, ASA is hosting a press conference and rally at the Oakland federal building to speak out against the DEA raids in Oakland.

I encourage everyone reading this post to join me on Thursday and to spread the word. We can only end these raids if we fight back.

Here are the details:

What: Press Conference Speaking Out Against Raids in Oakland
When: Thursday, October 4th at 9:00am
Where: Oakland Federal Building at 1301 Clay St.
What to Wear: Business Professional Attire

For more information, contact Sonnet@AmericansforSafeAccess.org

How Far Would Oakland Go for Medical Marijuana?

1 Aug

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.

Protesters in front of CPG
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.

Protester arrested in front of CPG

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?

I would.

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.