The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

ASA Media Liaison Kris Hermes 510-681-6361

Medical Marijuana Advocates Decry DEA Raid in San Francisco Yesterday

Advocates argue state law violations should be purview of local and state officials


Advocates are protesting a federal Drug
Enforcement Administration (DEA) raid yesterday on a San Francisco
medical marijuana dispensary, and are urging the Obama Administration
to implement its policy change aimed at ending the previous
Administrations' tactics of conducting such raids. Yesterday afternoon
federal agents stormed Emmalyn's, a medical marijuana facility licensed
by the City of San Francisco, seizing an unknown amount of marijuana,
money and other property, but made no arrests. The DEA raid comes only
one week after U.S. Attorney Eric Holder clarified the Obama
Administration "new American policy" on medical marijuana.

Evidence used to justify yesterday's DEA raid is currently sealed and
not available to the public. However, the San Francisco Chronicle
reported today that a source in the city government said the raid may
have been based on a state sales tax violation. "There is no evidence
that I'm aware of that my client is in violation of state or local law,
or is errant in paying sales tax to the state," said Emmalyn's
attorney, Terence Hallinan, who is also the former District Attorney of
San Francisco. "This is a slap to President Obama's face by DEA in
light of
his new federal policy on medical marijuana."

"Any violations of California's medical marijuana law should be the
purview of local and state officials," said Kris Hermes, spokesperson
with Americans for Safe Access (ASA), a national advocacy
group working with the Obama Administration to develop a sensible and
comprehensive policy change with regard to medical marijuana. "Medical
marijuana patients and providers
deserve a chance to defend themselves under state and local law, which
is not possible once the federal government gets involved." The
California Board of Equalization typically enforces sales tax
violations that occur in the state.

Emmalyn's was in operation prior to San Francisco's development of an
ordinance regulating such facilities in 2006, and had been providing
medical marijuana to thousands of patients in the city without
incident. San Francisco Supervisor Chris Daly, in whose district
Emmalyn's operated, made a statement yesterday in response to the
raids. "I support safe and adequate access for all patients in the
city," said Supervisor Daly. "As such, I Condemn any force which is
used to disrupt or prevent patients from accessing their medicine."

In 2008, the California Attorney General Jerry Brown issued guidelines
recognizing the legality of medical marijuana dispensaries under state
law, and providing recommendation for their compliance with those laws.
However, in 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Gonzales v. Raich,
that the government had the discretion to enforce federal
marijuana laws even in medical marijuana states. "Of course the federal
government has the authority to raid dispensaries in California,"
said Caren Woodson, ASA's Government Affairs Director in Washington,
D.C. "The question is why does it have to exercise that
discretion, especially in light of the Obama Administration's
commitment to reverse that practice." Since the Raich decision,
more than 150 raids have occurred in California, mostly during the Bush

For further information:

Video footage of yesterday's DEA raid:

White House statement on ending federal enforcement:
CA Attorney General Guidelines issued in August 2008:

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.