Medical marijuana patients and supporters are staging a protest this Thursday, October 14, as criminal court proceedings begin at the Terraine Courthouse in San Jose, California. The protests are responding to aggressive law enforcement actions over the past two weeks by several local police departments and the California Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement.
The so-called “investigation,” which resulted in the arrest of almost two dozen medical cannabis patients and providers in Santa Clara County on October 1 and 7, is cynically referred to by law enforcement as “Up In Smoke.”
A press conference will be held at 12:30 p.m., with some of the arrested patients, their attorneys, and patient advocates expressing staunch opposition to law enforcement’s heavy-handed tactics.
“In a democratic society, we develop laws that protect our sickest people, not that leave them susceptible to police harassment and criminal prosecution,” Vazquez said.
Police officers pretended to be sick patients, claiming immobility and homelessness, in order to entrap medical marijuana delivery services, many of which were family-run businesses, according to ASA.
Those arrested included senior patients, many of whom were born and reared in Santa Clara County.
The October 1 multi-agency law enforcement actions focused on medical marijuana delivery services in the greater San Jose area, and resulted in 22 arrests. Then, on October 7, police raided a local dispensary, New Age Healing Collective, and made at least one additional arrest.
Police seized about 25 pounds of medical marijuana and more than 200 plants on October 1, then about 40 additional pounds of cannabis on the October 7 dispensary raid, according to local news sources.
Charges against patients included possession, possession with intent to sell, and conspiracy to distribute. According to ASA, many of the arrestees were forced to sign statements that they were selling drugs for profit.
|Santa Clara Police Department
|Santa Clara Police Chief Stephen Lodge: “People… are hiding behind the voter approved concept of medicinal marijuana to sell illegal drugs on an unprecedented scale”
”Those arrested have perverted the important role of a caregiver for seriously ill patients for their own financial gain,” claimed Santa Clara Police Chief Stephen Lodge, who provided no evidence of wrongdoing.
“I believe this is just the tip of the iceberg of people who are hiding behind the voter approved concept of medicinal marijuana to sell illegal drugs on an unprecedented scale,” Chief Lodge claimed, according to Erik Johnson at the San Jose Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog
Those arrested said they were operating lawfully under Health and Safety Code Section 11362.775, which defines collective and cooperative association, not “caregiving,” defined under a different statute of the Medical Marijuana Program Act, passed by the California Legislature in 2003 to expand and clarify the medical marijuana law approved by state voters in 1996.
“Police ought to fully understand the law before conducting aggressive and harmful actions against law-abiding medical marijuana patients,” Vazquez said.
The enforcement actions came as the San Jose City Council tries to develop a local ordinance to regulate and license the dozens of medical marijuana dispensaries currently operating in the area. The City Council also recently voted to place Measure U, which would tax medical marijuana patients 10 percent in addition to the existing state tax patients already pay, on the November ballot.
“How can the City of San Jose charge patients and exorbitant tax and at the same time arrest and prosecute them?” Vazquez asked.
Americans for Safe Access said that it “strongly opposes” San Jose’s tax measure, as well as other local measures across California that impose unreasonable taxes on patients, whose medicine is already “prohibitively expensive,” according to ASA.
What: Protest and press conference with arrested medical marijuana patients, their attorneys, and patient advocates
When: Thursday, October 14, 2010, 12:30 p.m.
Where: Terraine Courthouse, 115 Terraine Street, San Jose, CA