Misplaced Priorities?

For The Feds, The War On Drugs Often Trumps The War On Terror

The federal Drug Enforcement Administration raided the offices of the Los Angeles Cannabis Resource Co-Operative, a West Hollywood clinic dispensing medical marijuana on Oct. 25, 2001. As the Associated Press reported on Oct. 26, 2001 ( "Staff of W. Hollywood Medical Marijuana Clinic Protest DEA Raid"), "Drug Enforcement Administration agents searched the Los Angeles Cannabis Resource Center Thursday afternoon, seizing computers, financial documents, 400 marijuana plants and medical records of some 3,000 current and former patients, said Scott Imler, resident of the resource center. 'This action is effectively a death sentence for patients all across Los Angeles County,' Imler said. 'Our immediate concerns are our 960 patients who have no place else to go for marijuana.'" The clinic, "which has been open since 1996, provides marijuana to patients suffering from AIDS, epilepsy, glaucoma, cancer and other serious illnesses, he said. To receive the marijuana, patients must be referred by their physicians and undergo a screening process."

Los Angeles city and county officials as well as residents are outraged. According to the AP report, ""Our city is going to stand with our residents and this club,' said Councilman John Duran, who also provides legal representation for the center. 'These people will be forced once again into the streets to deal with drug dealers.' Sheriff's Capt. Lynda Castro said she was disappointed when she heard about the raid because the department has worked hard over the past five years to be understanding and sensitive to the issue. 'This is going to hurt a significant population in this community,' she said. 'I respect them for doing it, for operating a significant service. To turn around and have them targeted is a hard pill to swallow.' Marlene Rasnick, who suffers from ovarian cancer, urged her fellow patients to protest the federal government's action against the center. 'Medical marijuana made it possible for me to sit in my garden and enjoy my friends,' she said. 'If the federal government wants to say life is over, I don't accept that.'"

In a news release from California NORML, it was noted that "The warrant against the club was not signed by a California judge, but by a 70-year-old Nixon appointee from Florida who happened to be serving temporarily on the circuit. Rep. Bob Barr of Georgia is said to have called on the Department of Justice to attack the club." The release continues:
"The feds' new aggressiveness dates from the assumption to power of DEA chief Asa Hutchinson in August. His tenure has also brought a crackdown on paraphernalia suppliers, a number of whom have been busted or forced to close by DEA after conducting business peacefully for years.
"California NORML condemned the raid as an outrageous abuse of government power: 'At this time of national crisis, the enemy is anthrax, not medical marijuana,' said California NORML coordinator Dale Gieringer. 'It's disgraceful that the DEA is waging war on thousands of sick Americans instead of foreign terrorists.'"

This move by DEA is not an isolated occurrence, rather it is part of a series of moves by the feds targeting medical cannabis providers, patients, and the doctors brave enough to work with them. The raid on the LACRC came not long after DEA seized patient records and other information from doctors in northern California According to the Tahoe Tribune on Oct. 3, 2001 ( "DEA Seize Files On Medical Marijuana Patients", "The Drug Enforcement Administration agents on Friday seized files that contain legal and medical records of more than 5,000 medicinal marijuana patients in El Dorado County. An estimated 500 to 800 of those files contain information on South Shore residents. Agents raided the home and office of Dr. Mollie Fry, a physician, and her husband, Dale Schafer, a lawyer who earlier had announced he will run for El Dorado County district attorney. Fry and Schafer run the California Medical Research Center in Cool, Calif., a clinic specializing in medicinal marijuana."

There is some concern that the move was political. As the Auburn Journal reported on Oct. 4, 2001 ( "DEA Raids Clinic"), "Schafer blamed El Dorado County District Attorney Gary Lacy for initiating the raids. Lacy couldn't be reached for comment Wednesday. 'I'm running for DA in El Dorado County and he sicked the DEA on us,' Schafer said. 'He didn't think he could prevail under Prop. 215 so his next action was to call in the DEA.' The file information was sealed during the raids, Schafer said. A hearing is scheduled today in federal court in Sacramento on a petition to return the records based on attorney-client privilege, he said. 'All those files are protected by attorney-client privilege,' Schafer said. 'Everything we have done was in good faith to comply with Proposition 215.'"

A federal court later refused the petition. As the Knoxville News-Sentinel reported on Oct. 23, 2001 ( "Judge Rules Couple's Files From Raid Not Protected By Privilege"), "U.S. Magistrate Gregory G. Hollows rejected the attorney-client privilege asserted by the operators of California Medical Research Center in the El Dorado County town of Cool, but set up rigid rules by which the still-sealed records may be reviewed. Neither attorney Dale C. Schafer nor his wife, Dr. Marion 'Molly' P. Fry, would discuss Hollows' findings, saying they had not yet seen the 28-page order. Their lawyer, J. David Nick of San Francisco, could not be reached for comment, but after Monday's hearing in U.S. District Court in Sacramento he characterized the government's campaign against the pair as an 'unsavory attempt' to instill fear in seriously ill Californians."

The raid on the LA club was also related to an earlier DEA raid on a Ventura County couple, themselves medical marijuana patients, who grew marijuana for the LACRC. As the Los Angeles Times reported on Oct. 4, 2001 ( "Activists' Marijuana Ranch Raided Again"), "For the second time in two years, authorities have raided the Lockwood Valley ranch of marijuana activists Lynn and Judy Osburn, uprooting more than 200 pot plants that supply hundreds of medicinal users in Ventura and Los Angeles counties. As the Osburns watched, two dozen investigators from the federal Drug Enforcement Agency, assisted by Ventura County sheriff's deputies, last week searched their wooded property 45 miles north of Ojai. No one was arrested. The Osburns, who maintain they are medicinal marijuana users with written recommendations from doctors, grow marijuana for the 900 members of the Los Angeles Cannabis Resource Cooperative, which dispenses the drug as allowed under the state's 1996 voter-approved Proposition 215." The Times continues:
"Scott Imler, president of the Los Angeles area cannabis cooperative, said he was devastated to learn of the latest raid at the Osburn ranch. 'This is an incredibly serious setback for us. That was 30% to 40% of our annual supply,' said Imler, adding that many of the cooperative's members have AIDS. The Osburns are reimbursed by the cooperative, which charges users a small fee per gram. No legitimate medicinal user, however, is denied marijuana if he or she lacks money, according to the Osburns."

For more information about the LA Cannabis Resource Center Crisis, click here For a collection of recent news articles on Cannabis in California from MAPinc, click here.

Boston Media Report Local FBI Got, Disregarded Lead On Al-Qaeda Network In Late 90s; Too Interested In Traffickers To Pay Attention To Terrorists

Agents for the Federal Bureau of Investigation were given information about an Al-Qaeda Network terror cell based in Boston in the late 1990s, according to a report by WCVB-TV Channel Five ( "Accused Terrorist May Have Been FBI Informant"). The Channel Five news team reported on Oct. 16, 2001, that "A man who once drove a cab for a living through the streets of Boston is on trial in Jordan, suspected of being a terrorist for Osama bin Laden. And now authorities believe he was also a one-time informant for the FBI." According to Channel Five, "A reliable source said that in the 1990s, Hijazi was an informant for the Boston bureau of the FBI. An American citizen, he was living in Everett, when, a source said, he was stopped by FBI agents investigating a drug-trafficking network that was bringing in white heroin from Afghanistan. Hijazi, according to the source, became 'a willing informant' about the drug network. While he was cooperating with the FBI drug squad's criminal investigation, Hijazi was also providing information about Arab terrorists and terrorist sympathizers, according to the highly placed source. The focus of the agents was on the trade in white heroin instead."

Not surprisingly, the FBI denies that it missed the boat, or rather the airliners, in this case. Following up on the story, the Boston Herald reported on Oct. 17, 2001 ( "Report: FBI Probe Targeted Drugs, Not Terrorism") that "Raed Hijazi, 32, an American citizen now awaiting trial in Jordan in a foiled millennium terrorist plot, told FBI agents about 'Arab terrorists and sympathizers,' but they were more interested in whatever knowledge he had about heroin being brought into Boston via Afghanistan, WCVB-TV reported last night. Hijazi is an admitted member of al-Qaeda, the Islamic terrorist ring founded by Osama bin Laden. Hijazi became a 'willing informant' for the Boston office of the FBI to avoid jail time on charges being investigated by the agency's drug squad, the station reported, citing a 'high-level source.' A spokeswoman for the Boston office of the FBI declined to comment specifically on the station's report that Hijazi was a confidential informant. 'Based on ( the station's ) reporting, I would question the source's reliability,' said FBI Special Agent Gail Marcinkiewicz."

For more information on the priorities which law enforcement now faces, read this piece on Can the US really fight two 'wars'?

Background Information On Narco-Funded Terror

Some politicians are using concern over terrorism to advance the drug war

Can the US fight two ill-defined 'wars' at once? The answer seems to be no.

For the Feds, the war on drugs trumps the war on terror every time.

Drug Czar enters the terror war with multi-million dollar PR campaign

Information about the US drug war in Asia

More about the situation between the US and Afghanistan

Selected resources dealing with terrorism, drugs, and crime

This is a public service advertisement from Common Sense in Fall of 2001 dealing with the question of prohibition's funding of terrorism, "Is The Funding Of Terrorism Another Unintended Consequence Of Drug Prohibition?" .

"Drugs & Terrorism"

"Drug Terror Link Shows Sloppy Thinking of Drug War Advocates"

"The Drug War & Terrorism: Lessons To Be Learned"

Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Frontiers) has a great deal of information on the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and Central Asia

Back to top

Drug War Facts

About Common Sense for Drug Policy

Common Sense Ad Campaign

Addict in the Family

Effective Drug Control Strategy
copyright © 2001, Common Sense for Drug Policy,
Kevin B. Zeese, President -- Mike Gray, Chairman -- Robert E. Field, Co-Chairman
Diana McCague, Director -- Melvin R. Allen, Director -- Doug McVay, Editor & Research Director
Updated: Thursday, 16-Jul-2009 09:19:42 PDT   ~   Accessed: 29602 times
Email us