Friday, May 2, 2008
Berkeley Mayor Takes a Stand for Patients and Caregivers
From Becky DeKeuster, Berkeley Patients Group
Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates this week joined Oakland’s Ron Dellums and San Francisco’s Gavin Newsom in urging Representative John Conyers, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, to hold Congressional oversight hearings into attempts by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to undermine state and local medical marijuana laws. Bates’ letter references a unanimous City Council resolution on January 29, 2008 declaring Berkeley “a sanctuary for medical marijuana patients, providers, and landlords,” and mentions that other cities have taken similar steps.
The letter calls Berkeley’s three medical marijuana dispensaries “regulated, tax-paying members of our community,” and says they “maintain clean, safe properties and play an active role in Berkeley’s civic life.” It then cites the DEA’s “aggressive tactics” and Berkeley’s “strong opposition” to federal interference as reasons for swift hearings.
Since 2007, more than 50 dispensaries have been raided by federal agents and their assets forfeited—including, in many cases, sales tax collections due to the state. In July 2007, landlords renting to dispensaries began receiving letters from the DEA, threatening them with forfeiture and imprisonment. Many have chosen to evict, although no federal action has been taken against a landlord since the letters went out.
In addition to Dellums, Newsom, and Bates, Mayor John Duran of West Hollywood and Mayor Ryan Coonerty of Santa Cruz have also sent letters urging Conyers to set a date for Congressional hearings. Read about the Mayor's statement and letter in the Daily Californian