This story sickens me so much that I can barely write about it coherently:
About 100 people demonstrated outside West Hollywood City Hall this morning, protesting a series of federal raids that shut 11 outlets for medical marijuana in the county.My position is absolute: all drug use should be decriminalized, period. Your body is yours; it does not belong to some government bureaucrat, at either the state or federal level. What you choose to put into it is no one else's business. The ravages of the so-called "War on Drugs" are endlessly horrifying: this phony "War" tramples and destroys individual rights at every turn, it incarcerates millions of people for actions that harm no one at all, and not infrequently it murders innocent victims by means of government violence and brutality.
Federal agents Wednesday raided the 11 medical marijuana outlets in Los Angeles County, seizing several thousand pounds of processed drug, hundreds of marijuana plants, an array of guns and bagfuls of cash.
The simultaneous raids, part of an investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, were the largest such operation in the county in recent memory. Five dispensaries in West Hollywood were raided with the other six in Venice, Hollywood, Sherman Oaks and Woodland Hills.
The action by federal agents angered some local officials and was taken despite a state law permitting possession and cultivation of marijuana for qualified medical patients.
West Hollywood officials said they were taken by surprise, only learning of the raids as they occurred. West Hollywood has a "long-standing commitment" to the use of medical marijuana for people with such catastrophic illnesses as HIV and AIDS, city spokeswoman Helen Goss said.
"We've been fighting to support the access of medicinal marijuana for many, many years and there's just a great disconnect between the federal government and communities like West Hollywood," Councilman Jeffrey Prang said. "Medicinal marijuana provides comfort and relief to people who are seriously ill and seemingly they view those people as drug addicts who belong in jail as opposed to people who deserve compassion and assistance."
California voters approved Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act, in 1996, which made marijuana available by prescription for medicinal uses. SB 420, which took effect in 2004, clarified Proposition 215, and taken together legalized possession and cultivation of marijuana for qualified medical patients.
"There are hundreds of thousands of patients in California who need safe and reliable access to a medication that their doctors recommend they use and these raids are an example of the federal government going out of its way to interfere with the lives of patients," countered Steph Sherer, founder of Americans for Safe Access, a national advocacy group for medical marijuana use, based in Oakland.
Richard Eastman, a pro-medical marijuana activist who said he was diagnosed with AIDS in 1995, said he was horrified by the raids. Some of the pills he takes to fight his illness, Eastman said, "take away my appetite, but the marijuana keeps me eating."
As a result of the raids, Eastman estimated that perhaps 2,000 people who ordinarily would buy marijuana for medical purposes "won't be able to get their medicine tomorrow. And it's not like they can go to Sav-On or Thrifty."
The owner of one of the raided dispensaries said Wednesday that she was saddened that people will not be able to have the freedom of choice to use medical marijuana.
"We abide by state and local ordinances, and state laws, in providing a service to patients because they have the legal right by state Legislature to be able to make the choice of having medical marijuana as their choice of therapy," the dispensary owner said, speaking on condition of anonymity.