DEA Raids Another California Medical Marijuana Dispensary Even as Advocates Gear Up for Day of Action Next Friday 5/31/02

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Even as the nationwide campaign of demonstrations against heavy-handed federal marijuana actions directed at California medical marijuana providers gathers steam for a national day of action on June 6, the DEA struck again. In response, Americans for Safe Access (ASA), which is spearheading the demonstrations, called for a national Flood Your Rep. Day today (Friday), urging voters to contact their representatives to denounce the latest federal intrusion into California's medical marijuana program.

The latest raid came Wednesday at the Aiko Compassion Center in Santa Rosa. Tight-lipped DEA men told local reporters two people were arrested and marijuana, cash, a car and a weapon were seized. According to the Santa Rosa Democrat, witnesses described DEA agents in dark-colored SUVs pulling up in front of the club Wednesday morning.

"They made a big show of it," said Mark Nabavi, who runs the Printing Express store next door. "They blocked the front entrance and wouldn't let anyone in. They took down everyone's license plate number."

A spokesman for the Sonoma Alliance for Medical Marijuana was angry. "I'm not surprised but I'm outraged," said Ernest "Doc" Knapp, who added that the center serves more than 100 patients.

According to Santa Rosa attorney Rich Ingram, the two men arrested were Edward Bierling and Dan Nelson. Bierling is a medical marijuana user, Ingram told the Democrat, adding that DEA agents had raided Bierling's home in March and seized marijuana and grow lights. Ingram said that Bierling was in compliance with Sonoma County guidelines.

But that doesn't matter to the DEA. A local DEA task force operates in Sonoma County, and in the eyes of the feds, marijuana is simply illegal. "We have not targeted marijuana clubs. We have investigated marijuana trafficking groups," San Francisco DEA spokesman Rich Meyer told the Democrat. "As we develop leads, we follow those leads. If one takes us to a marijuana club, then we continue that investigation."

That's too much for ASA (http://www.safeaccessnow.org), an offshoot of the Cannabis Action Network formed to bring pressure to stop the federal harassment of the state's voter-approved medical marijuana program. As DRCNet reported two weeks ago (http://www.drcnet.org/wol/237.html#heatingup), the June 6 actions have been in planning for some time. According to the latest count from ASA, some 45 cities will see demonstrations, direct actions and some civil disobedience at DEA or other appropriate federal buildings next Friday.

The DEA appears to be doing all it can to make the day of action a success.

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