As George W. Bush shoves a unilateral lust for war and death down the throat of the United Nations, America, and the world, his DEA chief Asa Hutchinson is similarly shoving the deadly drug war down the throats of sick and dying people in California.
Since 1996, federal prosecutors and judges have closed down, raided, infiltrated or otherwise massacred individuals and organizations trying to implement Prop. 215, the nation’s first voter-approved medpot law.
The Los Angeles Cannabis Resource Center, Dennis Peron’s five-story famous Market Street Cannabis Club, CHAMPS, the Oakland Cannabis Resource Center, Mike Foley, Santa Rosa’s Aiko Compassion Club, Pot-TV’s Steve and Michele Kubby, Dale and Molly Fry, Tod Mikuriya, Renee Boje, Ryan Landers, Valerie Corral’s WAMM medpot cooperative, Jeff Jones, Ed Rosenthal, Robert Schmidt, Ken Hayes, Lynn and Judy Osburn, and hundreds of other compassionate individuals and cooperatives have been brutally attacked by federal, state and local authorities.
After 9/11/01, the pace of persecution and resistance has accelerated. When Valerie Corral’s WAMM club was raided recently, Santa Cruz officials condemned the DEA and vowed to distribute medical marijuana.
California district attorneys, even those who oppose marijuana, have stood down DEA agents, as did Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey when DEA invaders recently came into his county to pillage what Ramsey said was a legal six-plant medpot garden.
California Attorney General Bill Lockyer has publicly challenged the federal government, telling federal goon sqauds, in effect, to stay out of California.
And in the climate of creeping fascism that is infecting the USA on so many fronts, with constitutional rights being stolen away under the guise of fighting terrorism and the majority of Americans remaining passive like lambs being led to slaughter, leaders of the American marijuana reform movement are heralding this as a crucial time in marijuana law reform history.
Calling it a “key moment in the medical marijuana battle,” marijuana movement attorney-activist Kevin Zeese is working harder than ever to rally reform leaders and regular citizens.
“The Bush Administration is trying to roll over the reform movement with DEA raids and Ashcroft-led federal prosecutions on medical marijuana dispensaries,” says Zeese, who is founder and director of Common Sense for Drug Policy. “They see us as a hollow movement of a few billionaires with nothing behind us. If we fail to react to current federal enforcement efforts not only is the progress we made on medical marijuana in jeopardy-but the progress we have made on other issues is as well. They will see that they can attack us at our strongest points, the medical marijuana issue, in California, especially San Francisco and Los Angeles, against some of our most cautious, locally supported and legitimate dispensaries. If we fail to defend against this onslaught a great deal is at stake. We can expect an escalation of federal aggression on other fronts – initiatives and sentencing reform – perhaps even on our basic ability to function as a political movement.”
Zeese says reform leaders are planning a concerted response to the recent increase in DEA aggression, and that individuals across the nation need to do more in the fight for freedom.
“Patients need to peacefully, but aggressively demand that their elected representatives stand up for their rights,” Zeese counsels. “They should be at a minimum contacting their elected representatives regularly and demanding that they do their job, represent them, protect them from Ashcroft led abuse. For elected officials that do not respond, patients and advocates need to be more aggressive. They need to show up at their office and refuse to leave until the official agrees to protect them from federal abuse. They need to hound them wherever they go, so the politicians begin to realize these are issues people feel very strongly about. Further, California politicians who side with the federal government in their abuse of California citizens need to be removed from office. This requires political activity, attending community forums wherever they appear and publicly embarrassing them for their failure to represent the seriously ill. It also requires working for their opponents and putting money into campaigns against them.”
Zeese has put himself on the front lines in this battle. This summer, he was arrested during civil disobedience in Washington, DC, and he is planning to co-lead a cross-country “Journey for Justice” caravan this fall and winter.
“The federal government shows no respect for state law or the needs of seriously ill patients,” Zeese says. “Extremists are in control of the government. Ardent drug warriors are in charge. They believe medical marijuana is a lie. They also believe that the medical marijuana movement is a hollow one: a few billionaires and nothing more. It is time to show them they have misjudged the movement. Everyone who cares about this issue must increase their advocacy and activism. They must step up their efforts and show that this is THE issue they care most about. We must never vote for a candidate that opposes our reform views.”
Zeese is joined in his sense of urgency by highly-respected professional advocacy organizations like Americans for Safe Access (ASA).
ASA is known for media-savvy lobbying and powerful public events. The group has organized protests at DEA offices, courthouses and other government sites across California, and is now calling for a major rally at the capitol in Sacramento on Monday, 9/23/02.
Zeese says that the current crisis is a turning point in the fight for marijuana liberty, but he remains committed to non-violent civil disobedience and peaceful participation in the political process. He rejects calls from some medpot patients and growers to start fighting fire with fire.
“Armed struggle will immediately turn public support against us,” Zeese says. “Right now the public sympathizes with us; armed struggle will undermine that. Further, unlike King George who was an ocean away, at a time when it took over a month to cross the ocean and who had weapons much weaker than today, the current US government is well armed and too willing to use violence to get its way. We will lose an armed conflict. We have not tried the political process. We have not made this our most important political issue. We have not challenged drug warriors at the voting booth. We have not put forward candidates who support us. There is a way to change law – to create a revolution in a democracy – but we do not need violence to prevail, and if we resort to violence we will not prevail.”