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Medical Pot Activists Rally Outside Gov.'s Office


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About 200 pro-medical marijuana activists demonstrated Thursday outside Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's office in downtown Los Angeles, demanding he do more to end federal raids on cannabis clinics.

In a lively rally that lasted more than an hour, and was punctuated by the smell of pot, the protesters gathered outside the Ronald Reagan State Office Building to call on Schwarzenegger to urge the Bush administration to tell federal drug agents to back off.

Representatives from Schwarzenegger's office were not immediately available for comment.

Los Angeles City Councilman Dennis Zine did not attend Thursday's rally, but released a statement in support of the dispensaries.

"This year has seen a dramatic increase in federal law enforcement activity surrounding medical cannabis, including raids, confiscation of medicine and plants, and indictments," he stated.

Orange County Board of Supervisors Chairman Chris Norby, who also did not attend the rally, also expressed solidarity with the protesters via e-mail.

Norby urged Schwarzenegger to implement Proposition 215, the ballot initiative California voters approved in 1996 that legalized the sale and use marijuana for medicinal purposes.

Marijuana is still an illegal drug under federal law.

Opponents of medical marijuana say the dispensaries aren't regulated, attract crime and make it easier for everyone, not just those with serious illnesses like cancer and AIDS, to gain access to the drug.

The demonstrators protested what they called illegal and intrusive raids conducted by federal drug agents on Los Angeles marijuana dispensaries that sell the drug to anyone with a doctor's prescription.

"An attack on safe access is an attack on patients," said Don Duncan, a man whose Hollywood dispensary, California Patient's Group, was shut down by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration on July 25.

"Los Angeles is where we're going to win the war for safe access in California," Duncan said.

Duncan told reporters his dispensary sold marijuana, but was also a community center that featured massages and social activities for mostly older patients.

Steph Sherer, executive director of Americans for Safe Access, a pro-medical marijuana group, urged Schwarzenegger to coordinate with the 12 other governors whose states have legalized medical marijuana to send a message to Washington.

"We are tired of coming and protesting about our medicine," Sherer said.

Stephanie Landa, who is serving more than three years in federal prison for running a medical marijuana clinic, called Duncan during the rally to support the demonstrators.

During the protest, uniformed LAPD officers and Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies stood by. At least one LAPD officer filmed the rally.

One protester held up a sign that read: "Coming Soon: The Gov. in 'TERMINATE THE DEA.'"

Numerous passing vehicles honked their horns in apparent solidarity.

News Moderator: CoZmO - 420 MAGAZINE ® - Medical Marijuana Publication & Social Networking
Source: CBS 2 News (Studio City, CA)
Contact: kcbstvnews@cbs.com
Copyright: 2007 CBS Broadcasting Inc.
Website: Medical Pot Activists Rally Outside Gov.'s Office
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