DEA Administrator Makes a Controversial Public Appearance in California, the First Since Shutting Down L.A. Cannabis Club <br>
On February 12, 2002 Asa Hutchinson, DEA Administrator, is giving a speech at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco to discuss U.S. drug policy and its effect on the state of California. Following the Los Angeles Cannabis Club raid last year, many are surprised and angered by Hutchinson's pending visit to the Golden State. Los Angeles Cannabis Resource Center President, Scott Imler, has vowed to attend the event hoping to take Hutchinson to task. According to Imler, "Asa Hutchinson has compromised the health of hundreds and hundreds of Californians. He should be offering an apology to the families of our dead members, not demonizing their memories with his drug war vitriol."
Last August Hutchinson resigned his seat in the House of Representatives to lead what he termed the "anti-drug effort." Within two months of accepting the position as Administrator of the DEA, Hutchinson launched what has turned in to an assault on patients who use medical marijuana. With complete disregard for the fact that California voters passed Proposition 215 (The Compassionate Use Act of 1996), in October 2001 approximately 30 DEA agents raided and closed the West Hollywood-based Los Angeles Cannabis Resource Center. Following the raid more than 1,000 AIDS, cancer, and patients suffering from other illnesses were denied access to the medicine that voters across the state, legislators, the medical community, and law enforcement agreed they should have access to.
According to Health Policy Director of the national Drug Policy Alliance, Glenn Backes, Hutchinson's Northern California visit "is a slap in the face to California voters and patients who no longer have access to their medication. With so many real problems related to drugs, we can't accept that busting doctors and patients should be a priority."
California is not alone in passing a medical marijuana initiative; voters in Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Maine, Oregon, Nevada, and Washington have done so as well. In addition, Hawaii's Governor signed a bill into law that protects seriously ill patients who use marijuana medically from local and state criminal prosecution. Many are concerned that California will become a model for Hutchinson's nation-wide assault on suffering patients and states rights.
For further comment: Scott Imler can be reached at: 323-791-5502 or 323-874-0811 Glenn Backes can be reached at: 916-444-3751