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Landlords of Medical Cannabis Centers Threatened

PFlynn

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In an effort to overcome the obstacles raised in the raid tactics the DEA employed in earlier attempts to circumvent a compassionate community of medical cannabis connoisseurs, the feds have resorted to sending letters to landlords who rent commercial space to medical cannabis providers, first in Southern California back in July and more recently here in the Bay area.

Landlords who own space occupied by medical cannabis dispensaries in Marin, San Francisco, and Alameda counties received letters the second week in December.

So far, only one landlord has been tried and convicted In May of 2007, 62 year-old Thomas Grossi Sr. was ordered to forfeit nearly $400,000 and sentenced to 30 months in federal prison. When released from prison, Grossi will be required to complete a three-year period of supervised release. Such harsh punishment (in contrast there was a case in this country in which a pedophile was given probation because the judge deemed him too short to go to prison) can only be construed as a deterrent to any property owner who might think to advance the safe legal (under state law) distribution of medical cannabis. Surely productive law-abiding citizens will not risk their liberty or even their personal assets when threatened with such great risk of loss and trauma.

It would seem that inspiring landlords to evict tenants who cultivate, process, or distribute medical cannabis might be more cost effective and less labor intensive than the oft employed raids, but this new strategy has not only instigated potential legal defenses of the medical cannabis community, it has also drawn the attention of members of Congress, many of whom already opposed the use of brutal force against patients who were complying with local law.

Respectively, in a stroke of legal genius, the Union of Medical Marijuana Providers filed a lawsuit on December 6th that charges the DEA with violation of California Penal Code ¤ 518, "which provides that 'extortion is the obtaining of property from another, with his consent, or the obtaining of an official act of a public officer induced by wrongful use of force or fear or under color of official right."

The lawsuit attracted the attention of Michigan Congressman John Conyers who, on December 7, issued the following statement, "I am deeply concerned about recent reports that the Drug Enforcement Administration is threatening private landlords with asset forfeiture and possible imprisonment if they refuse to evict organizations legally dispensing medical marijuana to suffering patients."

The House Judiciary Committee Chairman followed the comment by stating that the Committee had already questioned the DEA in regards to the agency's departure from the limitations of federalism with respect to California' Compassionate Use Act.

Interestingly, the UMMP lawsuit was prefaced by a letter dated October 19th, 2007 to Timothy Landrum, Special Agent in Charge of the Los Angeles Field Division Office of the Drug Enforcement Administration. The correspondence claims that on October 11, 2007 the DEA retaliated against the Arts District Healing Center, a medical cannabis dispensary that legally operated in Los Angeles for about 18 months, because that particular collective was the solitary seeker of legal protection from the landlord letters that were sent in August.

Since its inception in 1973, the Drug Enforcement Administration has adamantly maintained that "marijuana" is a Schedule I drug with no approved medical value, only recently conceding (notably, in Showtime's independent film "In POT We Trust") that "smoked marijuana" has "no medical value" and is rightly confined to its Schedule I status.

If that is the case, however, then why are tins of machine rolled "marijuana cigarettes" sent to the five remaining patients who receive freeze-dried marijuana from the federal government under the investigational new drug protocol first implemented by Robert Randall in the mid-seventies? For nearly twenty-five years, the physicians of patients who had happened upon the evidence that cannabis alleviated symptoms of disorders or diseases which conventional pharmatherapies failed to adequately treat were invited to wade through years of paperwork so that they might one day receive, for said patient, shiny tin cans of ten-year-old marijuana.

Because the seeds and stems are left in the smokeable plant matter, aging patients, already in pain from rare diseases such as nail patella syndrome and multiple congenital cartilaginous exostoses, must unroll, clean, moisturize, and reroll their medicine into what only the American government refers to as "marijuana cigarettes" because that is the only method of ingestion that our government approved.

"The rights of one American belong to all," states George McMahon in his gravelly wizened voice but another George disagreed. McMahon was the last patient to be granted government shwag (which keeps him alive and kickin) before President George Bush Sr. shut the protocol down in response to an overwhelming flood of applications from AIDS victims dealing with the devastating effects of the disease, and the harsh side effects of the chemical cocktails meant to preserve the patients health.

For many of those patients marijuana meant the difference between life and death and Former President Bush closed the door on their only avenue of legal access to safe effective medicine at that time but when the MANN closes the Door, the rebels open a window and compassionate Californians built a movement that has inspired a nation (slowly) to follow.

In July, a custody hearing was held regarding my seven-year-old son; I didn't have the physical or financial capacity to get to the hearing, nor could I, at that point in time, care for my brave compassionate little boy. So custody was awarded to the petitioning party and as much as that hurts, it happens every day to thousands of medical cannabis patients all over the nation.

In this particular instance, the judge reprimanded me for using my children as "props" at a marijuana rally at which I spoke to garner support for the medical cannabis bill for which Missouri patients had secured a committee hearing.

My parents smoked marijuana recreationally for years when I was a child and I swore that I would never hide my use of the herb from my own children. On the contrary, I have made every effort to teach my children American values, which include making bad laws better, not that a judge in Iowa would ever understand that.

The "Conservative" camp in America's politic circus contends that legalizing medical cannabis would set a bad example for the children but as Patients Out of Time (which is what the POT in "In POT We Trust" really stands for) Director, Mary Lynn Mathre points out, we should be teaching our children that "medicine should only be used when needed and at the appropriate dosage. Medicine should not be used for fun." If the abuse of pharmaceutical drugs prevalent in youth culture today is any indication, I think that message may have gotten lost in the mail.

Meanwhile, medical cannabis providers will brace themselves against the raids, from which they now have a bit of a holiday reprieve, and continue the struggle to provide patients with cannabis and edibles because as Mickey Martin of former Tainted fame says, "providing safe effective reliable medicine to people who need it, gives us a purpose.'


Source: Coastal Post, The (CA)
Copyright: 2008 The Coastal Post
Contact: editor@coastalpost.com
Website: Coastal Post News January, 2008
 
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