Medical marijuana patients demand an end to federal raids as President Obama arrives in Oakland

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GUARDIAN PHOTO BY YAEL CHANOFF

As President Obama arrives in Oakland for a fundraiser today, medical marijuana activists have already made a point with a rally on the steps of Oakland City Hall this morning. Protesters demanded that the President halt raids of dispensaries and other operations legally allowed by California law.

Present at the rally were representatives from Oaksterdam University and Harborside Health Center, two Oakland medical marijuana businesses that have been the target of federal attacks in recent months.

Speakers argued that Obama should use his power to stop threats to these institutions. Oaksterdam, the school that teaches the politics and history of cannabis along with practical knowledge for working in the industry, was raided April 2. Harborside, a dispensary that also offers free health services such as acupuncture and yoga, received a letter from US Attorney General Melinda Haag filing federal forfeiture action July 9.

“This is the time to show them what we’re made of,” said Harborside co-founder Steve DeAngelo at the rally.

DeAngelo emphasized that Harborside complies with state regulations and that the city of Oakland benefits from its success, not least with tax revenue.

Marijuana is illegal under federal law and is classified as a Schedule 1 controlled substance. Schedule 1 drugs “have a high potential for abuse” and “no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States,” according to the DEA.

But a procession of medical marijuana patients and caregivers at today’s rallies said that their experiences conflict with the DEA’s claims. Patients recovering from surgeries and suffering from cancer and HIV/AIDS said that medical marijuana provided pain relief and lessened their symptoms without the detrimental side effects of other medication.

“If the federal government takes away my medical cannabis, I could go blind,” said David Goldman, 61, a retired teacher who uses cannabis to treat his glaucoma.

The Compassionate Use Act, which passed in California in 1996 when voters approved Proposition 215, allows both patients and designated primary caregivers to legally purchase marijuana at licensed dispensaries.

One such caregiver, Evelyn Hoch, said that she has been caring for her best friend, a survivor of stomach cancer, for more than 20 years. “She had 90 percent of her stomach removed,” said Hoch. “They gave her six months to live.”

Hoch’s friend survived, but had to choose between constant pain and medication that left her “like a zombie,” according to Hoch. She was prescribed barbituates that, as a side effect, suppressed her breathing. Hoch said her friend was resistant to cannabis recommendations that her doctors gave her unofficially, even before medical marijuana was legal, because she “just didn’t like pot. It wasn’t her thing.” But after she began using medical marijuana two years ago, she has improved significantly.

“She can’t believe the difference,” said Hoch. “She can read again. She’s got a little bit of life. She’s not in bed 24/7, compromised from the side effects of other medication.”

Hoch is a Harborside customer, and says that if medical marijuana dispensaries close, “the only choice patients are going to have is buying it illegally.”

A march was leaving Oakland City Hall at 3pm to bring the message as close as possible to the president.

Comments

President Obama should read US Patent number 6630507 where the US National Institute of Health has proclaimed incredible health benefits from the use of Cannibis. Someone needs to get the DEA & the NIH in the same room to discuss how DEA says it is a Class 1 substance with no medical value.

Perhaps the president of the US can reconcile the differences of opinions between these two US Agencies! Hypocrisy is not acceptable, Mr. Obama.

How would they handle this in Kenya?

Posted by Thor med Hammeren on Jul. 23, 2012 @ 3:09 pm

My step-aunt Judy had aggressive colon cancer. By the time she was 26 years old she had most of her intestines removed and was left with only a colostomy bag. Getting enough food in her system to stay alive was very difficult. Smoking marijuana was the only thing that worked. Synthetic alternatives like Marinol (Dronabinol) which had to be swallowed didn't work, since most oral medications made her vomit. Risking incarceration and robbery, I used to buy her marijuana from off the street. Marijuana gave my Aunt Judy many more years of life, because it gave her an appetite and allowed her to hold her food down. Sadly, Aunt Judy succumbed to cancer, but pot kept her alive for years.

In the height of the AIDS crisis, I watched helplessly as some my friends suffered from wasting syndrome. My mentor Bruce suffered from this and lost a frightening amount of his body mass. His mother used to pay me to buy pot for Bruce. Sadly, nothing could save Bruce from death, but pot helped him cope against insurmountable odds. I get so angry when I hear about the government denying people their medication. President Obama, do the right thing and end these raids.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 23, 2012 @ 3:23 pm

If 75% of all government employees were randomly laid off the chances of getting two agencies to sit down together would be greatly enhanced.

Posted by Jose4 on Jul. 25, 2012 @ 7:26 am

My step-aunt Judy had aggressive colon cancer. By the time she was 26 years old she had most of her intestines removed and was left with only a colostomy bag. Getting enough food in her system to stay alive was very difficult. Smoking marijuana was the only thing that worked. Synthetic alternatives like Marinol (Dronabinol) which had to be swallowed didn't work, since most oral medications made her vomit. Risking incarceration and robbery, I used to buy her marijuana from off the street. Marijuana gave my Aunt Judy many more years of life, because it gave her an appetite and allowed her to hold her food down. Sadly, Aunt Judy succumbed to cancer, but pot kept her alive for years.

In the height of the AIDS crisis, I watched helplessly as some my friends suffered from wasting syndrome. My mentor Bruce suffered from this and lost a frightening amount of his body mass. His mother used to pay me to buy pot for Bruce. Sadly, nothing could save Bruce from death, but pot helped him cope against insurmountable odds. I get so angry when I hear about the government denying people their medication. President Obama, do the right thing and end these raids.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 23, 2012 @ 3:18 pm

Listen to the way these pompous fed govt officials proclaim the Absolute Truth. I bet Louis XIV (The Sun King) sounded the same way. FedGov: "We are God!" "What we say, is (of course) a proclamation from On High! - Kneel and Worship your God, which is us and Our Government!" "What? Marijuana? Medicine?!" "No (saith Lofty and High FedGov) marijuana is not medicine. Marijuana is 'drugs'! DRUGS! D-R-R-R-R-UGSSSS!" Disobey and Government will shoot you in the back, run 50,000 volts through your body, cuff you, and let you bleed out." Because (proclaimeth the FedGov, Lofty and Most High), "Marijuana is 'drugs'!"

Posted by O. B. Server on Jul. 23, 2012 @ 4:00 pm

Funny how so many don't mind the federal government taking over when it comes to civil rights, the environment, health care, education, etc. "States rights" is a dodge when it's used by the right or the left.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 24, 2012 @ 8:14 am

Obama is really behind the times. Even PAT ROBERTSON says it should be legal!!

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/08/us/pat-robertson-backs-legalizing-mari...

Posted by Warren on Jul. 23, 2012 @ 5:43 pm

I can use marijuana responsibly just like I can use alcohol responsibly. I am not infringing on the rights of my neighbor in any way. Irrational fear or the dislike of marijuana is no excuse to deny an honest American Citizen like myself the freedom of choice. There is absolutely no legitimate argument that even comes close to making sense for continuing Prohibition. Anti-marijuana goons routinely use fear, misinformation and contempt for their fellow citizens when offering their reasons to continue Prohibition. That didn't work for alcohol and it hasn't worked for marijuana. Stop infringing on my freedom. Stop legislating your 'morality' on my life. End the Prohibition of marijuana now. Legalization is the right thing to do. It's the American thing to do.

Posted by Tom Bowers on Jul. 24, 2012 @ 1:48 am

Goldman Sachs desperately wants to stop the unexpected tax revenue so they can foreclose on city assets in Oakland.

They could care less about veterans with PTSD, cancer patients, or people smoking pot as preventative medicine to keep their eyes healthy.

Posted by Jose4 on Jul. 24, 2012 @ 4:33 am

Estimates show that marijuana is America’s number one cash crop. However, marijuana remains untaxed. This is a new source of income for our nation, an income we desperately need.

Over 500 of the nation’s top economic professors have shared their opinion in supporting the removing the prohibition and imposing the taxation and regulation of marijuana as a way to slow the federal deficit.

Ending marijuana prohibition would save the US $7.7 BILLION annually. That is nearly as much as Congress’ proposed Budget Control Act. Think of the jobs it would create, the court time I would save and the jail space it would free up for actual criminals.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_tUy6fylQs

Posted by Guest on Jul. 24, 2012 @ 7:32 am

Excuse my ignorance, but having a hard time finding the answer...

How is gambling in Nevada different than cannabis clubs in California. Both are using States rights to operate, but the federal government does nothing about casinos.. what is the difference?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 24, 2012 @ 9:59 am

Very simple -- Casino owners are in the backpockets of corrupt politicians. Cannabis clubs aren't....Until there's something "in it" for the politicians, they'll never have the guts to fight for any cause that might jeopardize their electability.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 24, 2012 @ 12:16 pm

The federal government doesn't specifically outlaw gambling, unlike marijuana.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 24, 2012 @ 12:48 pm

then why is it illegal to gamble on "off shore" betting sites?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 24, 2012 @ 1:43 pm

Actually, it's perfectly legal to use offshore gambling sites. The only gambling prohibited by the government is sports betting. Notice you can't do that at Indian casinos either.

What you might be thinking of is that it's illegal for banks to handle transactions (depositing or withdrawing funds from an online casino). I don't know why that is, but that's an issue for the bank, not a person.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 24, 2012 @ 3:42 pm

The federal government doesn't specifically outlaw gambling. Which isn't the case with marijuana.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 24, 2012 @ 12:50 pm

Hoch is a Harborside customer, and says that if medical marijuana dispensaries close, “the only choice patients are going to have is buying it illegally.”

Posted by Google Maps in Homepage einbinden on Oct. 22, 2012 @ 12:38 am

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