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LAPD Attacks Berkeley Medical Marijuana Club
LAPD Freezes Bank Account of Berkeley Patients' Group in Rogue
Berkeley: Medical marijuana supporters rallied yesterday
to protest the LAPD's seizure of the bank account of the Berkeley
Patients' Group. The action was a follow-up to the recent DEA raids
in LA, where the BPG's sister facility, California Patients' Group
was raided. The CPG has since closed, but the BPG is remaining in
operation along with another sister facility in West Hollywood, the
Los Angeles Patients' Group, which also had its bank account seized.
Contrary to the report in the Chronicle below, the LAPD
appears to have acted on its own without DEA in seizing the BPG's
The key question now is whether the LAPD turns the assets
over to the state or the feds. Under state law, BPG's assets are
clearly legitimate - they were complying with all business
regulations and paying taxes. If the feds take the case, there is
no defense against forfeiture, even though the BPG's (and CPG's)
assets were legitimately acquired. Ironically, the seizure of their
assets deprives California of $96,000 in sales taxes that they were
going to pay to the state Board of Equalization today. So far, the
DEA's medical marijuana raids have cost California millions of
dollars in tax revenues and hundreds of paying jobs.
The BPG is one of the oldest and most respected patients'
groups in the state, as are its sister clubs in LA and West
Hollywood. In addition to providing cannabis, they provide other
health and social services to their members. They have played a
leadership role in lobbying for safe access to medical marijuana,
working with local officials in support of sensible regulations, and
encouraging and training other providers in responsible dispensary
operation. Four Berkeley city council members were on hand to
express their support for BPG yesterday - Darryl Moore, Maxwell
Anderson, Kriss Worthington and Linda Maio; State Sen. Carole Migden
also communicated her support.
California NORML views the seizure as yet one more
over-the-top outrage by out-of-control elements in the LAPD. The
DEA raids in LA were planned in collaboration with LAPD. Narcotics
agents busted into the California Patients' Group like storm
troopers, breaking through windows in the presence of customers
instead of simply entering through the door. "Los Angeles is 400
miles from Berkeley," said California NORML Dale Gieringer, "The
Bay Area has no use for their dirty cops. The LAPD should mind its
own business and start cleaning house."
- Dale Gieringer
Authorities seize assets of medical marijuana club
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
The Los Angeles Police Department and the U.S. Drug Enforcement
Agency seized the assets of a Berkeley marijuana club Tuesday,
following a raid of its sister club in Los Angeles.
The Berkeley Patients Group, one of three medical marijuana clubs
in Berkeley, serves about 3,000 people in the East Bay. Medical
marijuana is against federal law but California, under Proposition
215, allows dispensaries to operate.
"It's completely scandalous," said Becky DeKeuster, Berkeley Patients
Group community liaison. "But we're determined to stay open and
assist our patients in any way we can."
The Berkeley club had about $10,000 to $15,000 in its bank account,
DeKeuster said. Employees offered to work without pay until the
matter is resolved.
The Berkeley club's sister organization, California Patients Group,
was raided last week in Los Angeles. Agents seized plants and
handcuffed employees and patients, but no one was arrested, DeKeuster
About 75 backers of the Berkeley club rallied at Tuesday's Berkeley
City Council meeting, asking that the council declare Berkeley a
sanctuary for medical marijuana dispensaries. The council agreed to
hold a hearing on the issue.
"This is really affecting individuals and families who rely on
marijuana to treat diseases and side effects," said Berkeley
spokeswoman Mary Kay Clunies-Ross. "We're definitely going to take a
look at it."
THIS STORY RAN IN THE EAST BAY EDITION
This article appeared on page B - 5 of the San Francisco Chronicle
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