After a last minute reprieve which allowed their doors to stay open over the weekend, the Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Club shut down on Monday (10/19) under threat of forced closure by federal authorities that evening. Standing in front of the club as the last of its equipment and stock were removed by volunteers, director Jeff Jones told gathered supporters about his experiences watching his father die of cancer, and said that the federal government's action was putting the health of the club's 2,200 members at risk.
In response to the club's forced closing, the Oakland City Council voted on Tuesday to declare a city-wide "state of medical emergency" and to explore options for providing patients with access to their medicine. Last week, councilman Nate Miley told The Week Online that the city was committed to the health of its citizens, and to the will of its voters, and that if all else failed, the possibility existed for members of the city government itself to provide cannabis to patients in an act of civil disobedience (see http://www.drcnet.org/wol/063.html#oaklandcbc). At the present time, no plans have been made and it is unclear what can be done legally under the medical emergency designation.
"This has been a very sad and a sobering experience" Jones told The Week Online. "The federal government has come in and has used every tactic to subvert the will of the people of California and the health of its citizens, not to mention, the stated intent of the Oakland city government. As of now, temporarily at least, our doors are closed. Our patients, people with AIDS and cancer and a host of other debilitating diseases, will be forced into the street to find their medicine. We will, of course, do everything in our power to see this injustice righted."
Jones took some solace in the possibilities of the upcoming elections. "If medical marijuana initiatives win in four or five states and in Washington, DC on November 3rd, then I think we'll have a whole new ballgame. It's one thing to ignore the will of voters in one or two states, but assuming that the feds keep losing these, it's going to become apparent that the voters are way out in front of the politicians on this issue. There's also the matter of the attorney general's race here in California, where Lockyer, the Democrat, has been a strong ally. It's a close race, but if he wins I think that the patients will have a strong advocate."