Be of Good Change – The Most Wonderful Rally of the Year

California was busy with medical cannabis in year 2008. Our State
legislature and many city councils passed resolutions condemning the
actions of the DEA for threatening landlords, raiding dispensaries and
undermining our State law. In the meantime most Southern California
cities have stalled on the dispensary regulatory process. Luke Scarmazzo
and Ricardo Montes face 20 years for their role as dispensary operators.
Ronnie Naulls, Charles Lynch and Virgil Grant still fight for their
freedom. The state was ravaged by raids on gardens in the north and
patient centers in the south. The federal threat to landlords and hostile
local governments effectively shut down collectives in Kern, Santa
Barbara, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego Counties. Los Angeles
and Orange Counties and Palm Springs host the only dispensaries in all
Southern California without any regulation. Numerous court cases this year
explored caregiver status, expert witnesses, lease agreements, return of
property, the ID card program and a host of other interesting legal
issues. And while the California State Attorney General issued his
long-awaited legal opinion regarding dispensaries this year, we learned
the California Police Chief Association requested the assistance of the
DEA in raiding dispensaries, seizing property and prosecuting patients in
federal court. This is war – and we won and lost some battles this year.

PAN agreed that ending the year with good spirited rally would be positive
for the patient community. Then Santa Claus announced he was going to
deliver lumps of coal to the DEA on Christmas Eve:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Santa Claus Delivers Lumps of Coal to the DEA Christmas Eve
Medical Cannabis Patients Honor Those in Prison

LOS ANGELES – December 24, 2008 – Santa Claus has announced that he is
delivering a few bags of coal to 255 E. Temple Street in Downtown Los
Angeles today at 4 p.m.

“The DEA should be happy that I stop at all for them this year,” declares
Mr. Claus. “They have stolen from patients, thwarted justice, terrorized
the state of California and wasted huge amounts of valuable resources.
They are shameful, unapologetic, should be spanked and sent to bed without
supper.”

Patients will gather to tell Santa their wishes for the New Year and new
White House Administration and hold a candlelight vigil for those patients
who remain in prison due to U.S. failed drug policies.

“There are many wonderful people in our jails and prisons who are
non-violent cannabis users. They should be at home with their families,
not in prison. We demand president-elect Obama put an end to these raids
and useless incarcerations,” states Degé Coutee, president of Patient
Advocacy Network, a Southern California based medical cannabis patient
advocacy and education organization.

Coutee continues, “What we witnessed last week was no more than armed
Christmas shopping. The DEA took televisions, jewelry and cars, but no
arrests were made all while holding patients at gunpoint. This is not
public safety. This is government sanctioned terrorism.”

There have been 10 DEA raids on legally qualified patients and their
providers throughout Southern California in the last two weeks. Cash,
medicine and personal property were taken, some without a warrant. No
arrests were made but patients were threatened. For more information
contact Patient Advocacy Network… ###

When participants first arrived, federal security police and LAPD out
numbered Santa and his few helpers. As we waited at the crosswalk
officers lined the entrance of the federal building. We approached with
smiles, good cheer and chocolates. When law enforcement realized we were
a small group of 20 and we were not there to yell and shout but sing silly
cannabis parody Christmas carols, hear Santa tell Jewish jokes, pray for
the prisoners and just be together after a tough year; security allowed us
on the property to take some group photos. It was an honor to spend the
afternoon with such dedicated soldiers in the SoCal medical cannabis
movement.

The presidential election energized our country in a way most Americans
have not seen in nearly 50 years. Activism is tremendously hard work with
little and rare reward. Change is slow. Yet we must be diligent.
Together each of us must find our part in legalizing medical cannabis and
be more active than we ever have been this next year. I personally do no
want to witness any more raids. I don’t want to see good people go to
federal prison for providing or cultivating cannabis. We cannot allow
ourselves to think that president-elect Obama is going to wave a magic
wand on January 20th and resolve our problems. We have more work to do
now than ever. We have a president and congress that may actually listen
to us if we speak up. We will be competing with the war in Iraq, our
economy, health care and more. However, our issue is the most agreed upon
in the history of our county. Polls indicate that 65-80% of voting
America supports medical cannabis.

PAN is providing free workshops, meetings and other events starting
January 3rd to ensure 2009 is safe and effective year for medical cannabis
in LA and across our great land. Please, GET INVOLVED!

Send your email address to patientadvocates@riseup.net for detailed
updates. Donate here on the website – it’s tax-deductible and used
wisely.

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