Surrounded by medical providers, family members, caregivers, clergy and West Hollywood elected officials, hundreds of chronically and terminally ill patients stood at West Hollywood City Hall, protesting yesterday's Federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) raid and seizure of the Los Angeles Cannabis Resource Center (LACRC). The effective shut-down of the Center's distribution operation leaves patients no access to the medication they rely on for their well-being and very survival.
The LACRC is a non-profit patient-based organization which has provided safe and affordable access to medical marijuana for almost 1,000 seriously ill and disabled residents of Los Angeles since 1996. The DEA seized all of the Co-Op's patient records, computers and plants, leaving no medication for the LACRC's almost 1,000 member-patients afflicted with cancer, AIDS, epilepsy, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis and other serious illnesses. For the patients, medical marijuana has alleviated their pain, allowed them to tolerate medication and treatment, and to simply hold down food everyday.
"It's sad and wrong that at this time of national crisis and mourning, the US Justice Department has elected to use its resources and manpower to harass and hurt sick people," said Scott Imler, president of the LACRC. "This action is effectively a death sentence for patients all across Los Angeles County."
The Los Angeles Cannabis Resource Center (LACRC) has been referred to as a heroic endeavor by Los Angeles County Sheriff Leroy Baca. In 1996, shortly after passage of Proposition 215 - the Compassionate Use Act - patients, law enforcement, city officials and the public health community came together and drafted the first set of rules and procedures for the LACRC. Every patient submitting an application to the co-op is required to provide valid photo identification, proof of California residency, a physician's written recommendation for approval (confirmed by phone), signed consent and agreement to follow LACRC Rules and Co-Op Procedures, and a personal interview with an intake counselor. Each member, upon completion of the intake process and qualification of services, is issued an LACRC Photo Identification Card to be carried at all times while in possession of cannabis products acquired through the Co-Op programs.
It is this card that is presented to law enforcement in the case of any inquiries. An LACRC officer is available at all times to verify for officers that a patient's status is current.