David Borden, Executive Director, [email protected], 6/7/02
Earlier today, ten of my friends and colleagues chained themselves together in a doorway of the US Department of Justice in protest of the Drug Enforcement Administration's escalating raids against medical marijuana providers. In the last two weeks alone, one compassion club has been shut down and another subjected to asset forfeiture, both in California. Our action here in DC, for which I was proud to carry a picket sign in support, was one of 55 protests against the DEA across the nation.
Civil disobedience may not be the choice of first resort, but on medical marijuana, at least, the time for nonviolent civil disobedience has arrived. Thousands of patients suffering from serious, sometimes debilitating afflictions, rely on the medical marijuana co-ops to avoid having to turn to the dangerous, unreliable and expensive black market created by drug prohibition. Their health, their quality of life, indeed their very survival in some cases, all depend on the continued efforts of their suppliers who have created for them a safe and sane space in which to live, and when body permits, thrive.
Yet all that is being taken away by an ideologically warped drug war and its heartless leaders. The patients are losing their safe havens one by one, and the thoughtful, courageous and devoted individuals who have labored for them for years are facing prosecution and possible hard prison time in the federal gulag. The DEA's campaign against the medical marijuana co-ops, is immoral, irrational, brutal, unjust, wasteful of law enforcement resources at a time when our national is under threat, and against democracy itself -- California is only the first state whose voters spoke loudly in favor of medical marijuana, and polls show 73% of Americans favor making medical marijuana legal now. Yet here in the nation's capital, Congress tried to stop us from even counting the results of our last medical marijuana ballot initiative, and advocates have had to sue the government for the right to mount another.
Far from neutral enforcers of a law passed by Congress, the DEA in fact has considerable administrative authority over this matter under the provisions of the Controlled Substances Act. DEA has used its heavy hand to block privately funded medical marijuana research that might by now have already resulted in its legalization for medical purposes through the FDA process. And even without the FDA, DEA chief administrator Asa Hutchinson or attorney general John Ashcroft could legally spare the medical marijuana patients and their faithful helpers with a few strokes of a pen. DEA's chief administrative law judge in 1988 called on the agency to do just that, but the powers-that-be instead chose to disregard Judge Young's studied interpretation of evidence and law to continue their drug war against doctors and patients.
The war against medical marijuana is not the DEA's only crime by any means. Patients in long-term chronic pain needing narcotics for their treatment usually can't get adequate prescriptions of them, and the DEA is one of the reasons doctors are scared to write them. This obscenity will be dealt with too, as will all drug war tyranny before all is said and done.
But today is for medical marijuana, and if protecting patients and their providers means we have to block doorways or cross police lines, so be it. The laws of conscience supersede the laws of legislatures, and conscience cannot sanction the drug war. It's time -- no, it's past time -- for action. The DEA's war on medical marijuana must stop.