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For Immediate Release
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Local, State Officials Decry Federal Attacks on Medical Marijuana Program

San Francisco United for Safe Access campaign compels statement from Mayor Lee and others


A coalition of medical marijuana patients, activists, dispensing centers, and concerned citizens has compelled public officials to stand up to recent federal attacks. Last week, the coalition "San Francisco United for Safe Access" held a press conference with several city supervisors and state officials, decrying the Obama Administration's aggressive tactics before a crowd of more than 500 supporters. By Friday, San Francisco United had secured a statement from Mayor Lee, expressing his opposition to "recent federal actions targeting duly permitted Medicinal Cannabis Dispensaries...that aim to limit our citizens' ability to have safe access to the medicine they need."

Since the beginning of the year, five San Francisco dispensaries have been forced to shut down due to threats from U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag. Early last week, federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agents raided city-compliant medical marijuana businesses in Oakland, including one of the state's oldest established distribution facilities. Dispensary proprietor and founder of Oaksterdam University Richard Lee has vowed to fight against further federal attacks, claiming that, "this is a fight we can win." San Francisco United and Lee have targeted President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder, who have so far eluded accountability for the unprecedented attacks.

"By opposing federal interference, San Francisco officials are taking a stand for patients and for sensible public health policy," said Americans for Safe Access founder and Executive Director Steph Sherer. "The federal government must not be allowed to push patients into the illicit market without consequence." Since U.S. Attorneys announced a concerted crackdown in California last October, more than 200 dispensaries have shut down as a result of threats to owners and their landlords. However, more than 1,000 locally compliant facilities still continue to operate in the state.

"The assault on medical marijuana patients currently underway by the Obama Administration is unprecedented in this country's history, despite hollow proclamations to the contrary," continued Sherer. "The intensity and breadth of the attacks has far surpassed anything we saw under the Bush Administration and has resulted in the roll-back of numerous local and state laws, not just in California." Delaware officials were the latest to be threatened by the Justice Department, derailing that state's recently passed medical marijuana law.

It was also announced last week that legislators from five medical marijuana states from California, Colorado, Maine, New Mexico, and Washington issued an open letter to President Obama opposing the federal attacks and asking his administration to "respect our state laws." The lawmakers underscored that such an aggressive policy "makes no sense" and is "not a good use of our resources," which is reflective of Obama's original pledge to de-emphasize enforcement in medical marijuana states.

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.