CA NORML News
Sacramento DEA Raid A Senseless and Costly Attack on Patients' Access to Medical Marijuana
Prop. 215 advocates denounced the DEA's raid on the River City Patients' Center in Sacramento yesterday as a senseless and costly attack on legitimate patient access to medical marijuana.
"River City, the longest-operating dispensary in Sacramento, is widely respected both by patients and local police as a model facility," said California NORML coordinator Dale Gieringer. "Its owner, Bill Pearce, has enjoyed excellent relations with the city, is scrupulous about operating legitimately and paying taxes, and is a respected political leader in the medical cannabis community."
Unlike other recent dispensary raids, the DEA operated with no cooperation from local police. Agents searched Pearce's home, car, business, warehouse and another property in Acampo, but turned up only a couple of small patient gardens totaling some 45 plants plus cash and bank accounts totaling some $50,000. Pearce was released, but his bank accounts remain frozen. He says the agents conducted their raid professionally and courteously, but could provide no reason why they chose to raid him.
The DEA offered no good explanation for the raid. DEA Special Agent Gordon Taylor darkly insinuated that "organized crime" groups were becoming involved in medical marijuana. However, the DEA offered no evidence of any such a link to River City. Pearce says that River City has no connection to other dispensaries, and obtains all of its medicine from small local growers. Taylor went on to charge that dispensaries were increasingly catering to "able-bodied young men," but provided no evidence that River City had improperly sold to anyone who wasn't a legal patient.
The DEA neglected to mention that River City had been operating as a legitimate tax-paying business, having just paid $35,000 to the State Board of Equalization for its monthly sales taxes bill. Other dispensaries recently closed by the DEA have reported over $1 million per year in sales taxes, as well as corporate, income and payroll taxes. California NORML estimates that the total retail market for medical cannabis in California is $870 million - $2 billion, enough to generate over $100 million in taxes for the state.
"The DEA is running a crime-creation racket," says Gieringer. "They are closing down honest businesses, depriving the state of jobs and tax revenue, driving marijuana into the hands of black marketers, and forcing taxpayers to pick up the tab for criminal prosecution and imprisonment of people who are trying to operate legally under Proposition 215."
Over 100 defendants have been brought to federal court for medical marijuana offenses in California since Sept. 11, 2001. In the decade since Prop. 215 was passed, a succession of medical studies have confirmed medical benefits in marijuana, but the federal government has refused to revise its position that marijuana has no medical value.
"It's a shame that the only conversation between the people of California and the federal government is with handcuffs," says Pearce.
Medical marijuana advocates are calling on Gov. Schwarzenegger to speak out against the federal attacks on medical marijuana. There will be a rally at the Governor's office in Los Angeles (300 S. Spring St.) this October 11th at noon. Supporters are urged to call the Governor's phone line in Sacramento (916) 445-2841 to express opposition to the DEA's raids on safe access.