Patients, Advocates to Protest Law Enforcement's Anti-Medical Marijuana Training

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

ASA California Director Don Duncan 323-326-6347 or ASA Media Liaison Kris Hermes 510-681-6361

Patients, Advocates to Protest Law Enforcement's Anti-Medical Marijuana Training

Statewide group trains police on "eradication" of medical marijuana dispensaries in LA

LOS ANGELES - With signs urging "Implementation Not
Eradication," the nationwide medical marijuana advocacy
organization Americans for Safe Access will lead lively, peaceful
protests this Thursday at a law enforcement training class hosted by
the statewide California Narcotics Officers Association
(CNOA) entitled, "The Eradication of
Medical Marijuana Dispensaries in the City of Los Angeles and Los
Angeles County." Thursday's CNOA class, which appears to be a training
on how to defy state law, follows a similar class held in Los Angeles
on September 22nd and precedes a northern California class to be held
on November 21st.

"There is no place in California for an anti-medical
marijuana road show that trains police how to flaunt state law," said
ASA
California Director Don Duncan. "Statewide law enforcement
organizations like CNOA should be helping to implement safe methods of
medical marijuana distribution, not working to undermine access."

What: Lively, peaceful protests against law
enforcement training on eradication of medical marijuana dispensaries
When: Thursday, October 8, 2009 at 11am
Where: Montebello Country Club, 901 Via San Clemente (&
N. Garfield Ave) in Montebello

Although the CNOA has gained a reputation for its long-standing
hostility toward medical marijuana -- having filed several legal briefs
in opposition to state law -- it is the list of trainers that is
surprising and particularly noteworthy. Headlining the training on how
to "eradicate" medical marijuana dispensaries is Los Angeles County
District Attorney Steve Cooley, Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen
Trutanich, and police officers from
Los Angeles, Pasadena, and Alhambra. Appearing to straddle both sides
of the fence, City Attorney Trutanich is also ostensibly working to
pass an ordinance that would regulate, not eradicate, medical marijuana
dispensaries.

The CNOA training comes at a time when the City of Los Angeles is
finalizing a years long effort to develop an ordinance regulating
medical marijuana dispensing collectives, also known as dispensaries.
Despite the city's attempt to limit the number of medical marijuana
dispensaries by implementing an Interim Control Ordinance (ICO), a
moratorium on new facilities, hundreds have opened in the two years
since the ICO's 2007 passage. However, instead of taking civil action
against facilities it considers to be in violation of the ICO, the city
has used the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) to carry out several
aggressive SWAT-style raids, with the help of federal agents in at
least one instance.

In contrast to the city's lengthy effort to pass an ordinance, the Los
Angeles County Board of Supervisors adopted its own ordinance
regulating medical marijuana dispensaries in June of 2006, well before
the city implemented the ICO. Although the county has not had to deal
with the same level of dispensary proliferation as in the City of Los
Angeles, the county's existing ordinance, as well as those from more
than 40 localities across the state, should have provided the city with
an ample road map to pass an ordinance of its own. "To the extent there
are problems with the increase of medical marijuana dispensaries in Los
Angeles, it's due to the city's failure to expediently adopt and
enforce a local ordinance."

Southern California is considered by many to be the last stronghold of
opposition to the state's medical marijuana laws passed more than 12
years ago. Last month, local law enforcement with the help of federal
agents raided more than a dozen medical marijuana dispensaries in San
Diego County, with the District Attorney calling the state-compliant
facilities illegal. Patients and advocates in San Diego will also be
protesting on Thursday, October 8 at 9am with a rally at the federal
building to be followed by a march to the office of District Attorney
Bonnie Dumanis.

Coincidentally, Montebello, the city in which the CNOA training will be
held, is the same city that has been accused by ASA of contempt for
refusing to return a patient's wrongfully seized medical marijuana. For
five years, the City of Montebello has spurned efforts by medical
marijuana patient Terry Walker to seek the return of his property,
despite a landmark decision in Garden Grove v. Superior Court,
which held that local law enforcement could not use federal law as a
reason not to return a patient's property. A hearing in Walker's
contempt case will happen next week on October 13th.

Further information:
CNOA training brochure:
http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/CNOA_flyer_9_2009.pdf

White Paper on need for Los Angeles Regulations:
http://www.AmericansForSafeAccess.org/article.php?id=5774

Regulatory ordinance for Los Angeles County:
http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/LA_County.pdf

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Americans for Safe Access is the nation's largest organization of patients, medical professionals, scientists and concerned citizens promoting safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research.

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