Medical Marijuana Patients Arrested at DEA Convention in San Diego 7 Arrested, 1 Cited for Demanding to Speak with Federal Agency Chief

SAN DIEGO-Medical marijuana patients demanding to speak with the head of the federal Drug Enforcement Agency were arrested in San Diego shortly after noon today for refusing to leave the site of an agency convention. The seven patients arrested and one cited were among the sixty patients and activists protesting at the Marriott San Diego Mission Valley, where the DEA is holding a meeting to discuss medical marijuana. The protestors dumped 1,500 empty pill bottles in front of the hotel, asking that DEA chief Karen Tandy tell them where they should get their medicine, now that the agency has shut down all medical cannabis dispensaries in the area. The patients refused to leave until Tandy spoke with them. When she declined, San Diego police arrested the seven for trespassing and cited one. "Doctors recommend cannabis and patients use it because it works," said Steph Sherer, executive director of Americans for Safe Access, the medical cannabis advocacy group that organized the protest. "The DEA is inflicting unnecessary suffering on tens of thousands of Americans by denying them a safe, effective medicine. It has to stop." Earlier in the day, two other patients were cited for dropping a banner near the hotel that read "The DEA is Not My Doctor." The seven arrested are: Ira Altshuler, Wendy Christakes, Alex Franco, Chris Fusco, Kris Hermes, Dale Tripp, and Kristen White. The one person cited was spinal-injury patient Craig McCain. Patients in San Diego report that they are having difficulty getting safe access to the medical cannabis their doctors recommend since the DEA raided or threatened all the medical cannabis dispensaries in the area. Similar raids in the past month have shut dispensaries in Modesto, as well as in Los Angeles, Palm Springs, and San Francisco. For clips of the arrests: Among the media present and filming were Fox News (XETV) and ABC (KGTV). The San Diego Union Tribune's Laura Embry was also taking photos. # # # With more than 30,000 active members with chapters and affiliates in more than 40 states, Americans for Safe Access is the largest national member-based organization of patients, medical professionals, scientists and concerned citizens promoting safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic uses and research.
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