The federal government filed an ex parte motion with U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer (7/7), asking that the U.S. Marshal be authorized immediately to close down medical cannabis clubs in Oakland, Marin, and Mendocino County. If granted, the motion would mean immediate forcible closure of the clubs, which currently serve over 2,000 Bay Area medical marijuana patients.
The government also filed motions ordering the clubs to show cause why they should not be held in contempt of a preliminary injunction ordering them to cease operations, and asking the judge to grant a summary judgment holding them in contempt. Hearings on the contempt motions will be held on August 14th at 10:00 am.
Attorneys for the defendants are hopeful that the hearings will lead to a jury trial of the defendants, who enjoy strong support in their local communities. In the meantime, medical marijuana advocates are praying that Breyer will not let federal authorities close the clubs.
An earlier government motion to let marshals close the clubs was rejected by Judge Breyer last May. This time, the government is arguing that the clubs have continued operations in violation of the court's injunction, which forbids distribution of marijuana in violation of the federal Controlled Substances Act. As evidence, the government has submitted testimony from DEA agents that the clubs are still open to patients. However, agents conspicuously failed in an effort to buy marijuana at the Oakland club, in an episode videotaped by news media on May 21. (The operation coincidentally took place at the same time the club was holding a well-attended press conference.)
Defense attorneys contend that the clubs' distribution of medical marijuana to patients is not illegal under the Controlled Substances Act, and that they are therefore not in violation of the federal injunction.
California NORML coordinator Dale Gieringer denounced the federal motions as a "cruel and immoral assault on patients' rights and a gross usurpation of powers rightly reserved for the states and local communities."
Jeff Jones, who runs the Oakland club, told The Week Online, "We're expecting a bust any day now. The feds, acting against the stated intention of the local government, are totally out of hand. But we're awaiting our day in court. We strongly believe that we are not in violation of the court order. This is about people, sick and suffering people, and a community that wants to allow them to help themselves in the best way they see fit. It is also, thanks to the 'zero-tolerance crowd' about an abuse of power and the overstepping of boundaries in an effort to enforce a punitive and morally bankrupt ideological position. We are extremely confident that in the end, the warriors will be exposed for what they are... and they won't end up looking too good."
-- END --
Issue #49, 7/10/98
Government Kicks Off Billion Dollar Anti-Drug Ad Campaign | Feds File Motion Allowing Marshals to Shut Down Medical Marijuana Dispensaries | Oakland City Council Adopts Liberal Medical Marijuana Guidelines | Reports: Correlation Between Alcohol and Crime Much Stronger than Correlation Between Illicit Drugs and Crime | Federal Study Suggests Marijuana May Prevent Brain Damage in Stroke Victims | Anti-Needle Exchange H.R. 3717 Moves to Senate | Michigan Legislature Reforms "650 Lifer" Law | Heicklen Arrested at Start of 30 Hour Protest at Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts | Special Report: Drug Policy Down Under | Editorial: Running Ads vs. Protecting Kids
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