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DRUG WAR BRIEFS: Protesting the DEA

May 31- California's Press Democrat reports: A Santa Rosa medical marijuana club reportedly halted operations Thursday as its owner and another man appeared in court on drug charges in the aftermath of the latest federal raid on a California marijuana provider.

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents searched the Aiko Compassion Center on West College Avenue on Wednesday. They then arrested Daniel H. Nelson, identified by a DEA agent as the owner, and Edward M. Bierling of Santa Rosa, described by his lawyer as a patient.

Both men appeared before a federal magistrate in San Francisco on charges of cultivating more than 100 marijuana plants, charges that carry a mandatory prison sentence of at least five years. Nelson is also charged with maintaining a place where marijuana was cultivated. Both were released on bond.

June 6- Protesters gather at over 50 DEA offices across the United States in a nationwide ìDay of Action,î calling for an end to the harassment of medical marijuana patients and buyer's clubs.

The New York Times does not mention the protests. The Washington Post offers a one-sentence mention of the ten arrests at the local DC protest, in it's Crime Section.

In the Desert Post Weekly, San Francisco District Attorney Terence Hallinan writes: Armed DEA agents have raided medical marijuana dispensaries operating legally under state law in San Francisco, Los Angeles and El Dorado counties, seizing patient records and sending waves of fear up and down California. Some of these facilities have been forced to close permanently.

These raids do not help local law enforcement or protect the public health or safety. Instead, they endanger our most vulnerable citizens and make my job as District Attorney more difficult.

June 7- The Oakland Tribune reports: In a scene echoed in cities from coast to coast, more than 100 protesters decrying a federal crackdown on medical marijuana forced the city's federal office building to close most of its doors Thursday.

The protesters tried to deliver "cease and desist" orders to the Drug Enforcement Administration's office, commanding the DEA to stop raiding medical marijuana clubs, as it has in Los Angeles last October, in San Francisco this February and in Santa Rosa last week.

DEA offices in the latter two cities were besieged Thursday too, each attracting about 150 protesters. An unknown number of protesters went to the San Jose DEA office. Seven San Francisco protesters were cited for failure to disperse and released.

The DEA said it was unfazed.

"It is the right of all American citizens to demonstrate peacefully in support of their beliefs," said Special Agent Richard Meyer, the agency's Bay Area spokesman. "As far as we are concerned, federal law remains the same and our mission has not changed."

But Oakland protesters said forcing Federal Protective Service officers to seal most of the building's entrances was a moral victory, and they promised that any DEA raids from now on will be met with coordinated grass-roots resistance and civil disobedience.

June 8- The Los Angeles Times reports: New York Gov. George Pataki released proposals Friday to change three-decade-old drug laws to allow more addicts to get treatment and to relax some mandatory sentences.

Pataki said in January that he wanted to ease the state's drug laws, calling them outdated and saying they didn't address the complexities of addiction.

The state's drug laws are among the nation's harshest and can bring mandatory life sentences for possession of relatively small amounts. In the 1970s, Gov. Nelson Rockefeller insisted on their adoption, when drugs plagued the cities. Pataki's proposals were developed after discussions with prosecutors, prison reform advocates and others, said Chauncey Parker, his criminal justice services coordinator.

June 10- The San Jose Mercury News reports: Nineteen people in Riyadh have died and 17 hospitalized after drinking cologne containing methanol, news reports said Sunday.

Drinking alcohol is banned in Saudi Arabia and punishable by lashings, fines and prison terms. Some people drink cologne as an alcohol substitute.

Send tips and comments to Kevin Nelson at

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