Drug raids are a waste of time

Discussion in 'Marijuana News' started by Superjoint, Nov 1, 2001.

  1. Los Angeles dispatch

    In light of the terrorism crisis, surely raiding a medical marijuana centre is not the best use of federal officers' time, asks Duncan Campbell

    Wednesday October 31, 2001

    This week, the United States attorney general, John Ashcroft, has been warning the country about the possibility of an imminent terrorist attack, a repeat of a warning issued a couple of weeks ago.
    In the light of this and the ongoing investigation into the September 11 attacks one might imagine that federal law enforcement officers in the US would all be fairly busy.

    But last week, 30 federal drug enforcement agents found the time to carry out a raid in West Hollywood on the Los Angeles Cannabis Resource Centre, the body which supplies medicinal marijuana to a variety of ill people in LA.

    The centre was set up five years ago in the wake of Proposition 215, which the Californian electorate had passed and which called for the setting up of such clubs for people who suffered from Aids, glaucoma, cancer epilepsy and so on and who believed that cannabis could help relieve their pain or their appetite loss.

    The idea was that people could register with the clubs, which were to be allowed to cultivate small quantities of marijuana, after being recommended by their doctors. The sale price for the marijuana varied slightly - at the LA centre they charged $50 (£35) for an eighth of an ounce.

    The measure, although passed handsomely, has been the subject of a series of legal challenges because it runs counter to federal drugs laws. Earlier this year, the US supreme court decided by an 8-0 vote that the clubs had no legal basis for existence.

    The raid follows on from that decision. Around 400 marijuana plants were seized in the raid as were computers containing the names of around 900 people who have made use of the centre, which had, incidentally, the backing of the local council and worked openly with the local sheriff's department.

    The affidavit for the search warrant on the premises stated however that "illegal conduct permeates the organisation's activities and ... all documents, records and equipment present at the site constitute fruits, instrumentalities or evidence of criminal offences".

    Workers at the resource centre used some of the dirt from their now defunct marijuana farm to create a mock graveyard in which the tombstones were labelled "compassion" and "democracy".

    Scott Imler, the centre's president, said: "I think it's shameful the justice department would waste money going after medical marijuana while the rest of the world is falling apart. If they had been doing what we pay them to do then maybe we'd still have a World Trade Centre."

    At one level, the action could be seen as the federal officials merely observing President Bush's encouragement for life to go on as normal: with 400,000 drug users now in the prison system, drug raids, even if only for some marijuana plants, could be seen as a sign of healthy normality.

    On the other hand, it might seem odd that, at the time when the UK is relaxing the drugs laws, reclassifying cannabis and exploring medical uses of marijuana, its partner in the war against terrorism is going in the opposite direction.

    The British home secretary, David Blunkett, indicated last week that one of the main reasons for relaxing the cannabis laws was in order to free the police to tackle more serious matters.

    How much more serious will things have to become in the US, one might wonder, before such raids as those on the LA Cannabis Resource Centre - hardly a secret hideout manned by violent criminals - are deemed to be not entirely the best use of 30 federal officers' valuable time?

    Meanwhile, the US drugs law reform organisation, Common Sense for Drug Policy, has also linked the events of September 11 and drugs laws. In advertisements in the national media, they quote House speaker, Dennis Hastert, as saying that "the illegal drug trade is the engine that fuels many terrorist organisations around the world, including Osama bin Laden".

    The ad asks: "is the funding of terrorism another unintended consequence of drug prohibition?"


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