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Letter to U.S. Attorney re: Attacks on Patients and Landlords (7-23-2013)

Letter to U.S. Attorney re: Attacks on Patients and Landlords (7-23-2013)

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Letter to U.S. Attorney re: Attacks on Patients and Landlords (7-23-2013)
Letter to U.S. Attorney re: Attacks on Patients and Landlords (7-23-2013)

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Published by: william_e_pappas on Jul 24, 2013
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July 23, 2013
Mr. Andrè Birotte, Jr.United States AttorneyU.S. Courthouse, 14
Floor 312 N. Spring StreetLos Angeles, CA 90012
: Medical Marijuana Forfeiture CasesDear Mr. Birotte:I saw your interview about human trafficking on “Good Day L.A.” Hopefully, your comments will bring attention to this important issue. The things you said to look for as possible signs of human trafficking are likely things most people do not know and that willhelp more citizens spot and report this terrible crime. One of the properties the governmentis seeking to forfeit in the medical marijuana cases has a space in it that Dr. Mark Burcaw,the building’s owner, has, for several years, donated to a group that works to help bringattention to and assist the victims of human trafficking. Mark has, on many occasions,advocated on behalf of that group.As you know, I met with Mr. Welk last Thursday. At the end of the conversation,Mr. Welk told me that I could write to you if I did not believe the discussion with him waseffective. The discussion was not effective and it is clear Mr. Welk is out to close allmedical cannabis patient groups in Southern California whether or not those patient groupsare in compliance with state law. In his words, there are no patient groups in compliancewith state law in the entire district. Not only did he mischaracterize state law, he wasinsistent the Department of Justice guidance in the area of state medical marijuana mattersrefers and applies only to individual patients. I referred him to a press conference by Mr.Holder in New Mexico, an appearance by Mr. Holder before a Congressional committeelast year where he is answering questions asked by a Congressman from Colorado, and a“60-Minutes” interview with Deputy Attorney General Cole from late-2012. The policy
Mr. Andrè Birotte, Jr.July 24, 2013Page Twodoes not solely apply to patients – it applies to patients, patient groups, caregivers,cultivators, and dispensaries properly operating under state law that are not large-scalecommercial drug traffickers (Mr. Holder referred to “drug traffickers” as being what wecommonly expect that to mean – people with guns – living the luxury lifestyle – the drug-cartel folks – 
people providing for patients).Congress announced that the purpose of the 1971
 Drug Abuse Prevention
and Control Act 
was to combat recreational drug abuse and addiction. TheSupreme Court made clear that was indeed the purpose of the Act in its 2006
Gonzales v.Oregon
decision. The federal government holds a patent on at least one (1) strain of marijuana citing the ‘use’ element required for that patent as the drug’s benefits for patientssuffering from AIDS dementia. In January and then again in March of this year, the
 National Cancer Institute
which is a component of the federal
 National Institutes of Health
 released an approximately 25-page report showing cannabis is effective in reducing the sizeof tumors in various forms of cancer. That report also noted that cannabis has antiemeticas well as eating disorder medical benefits. A 2010 letter from Dr. Robert Petzel, M.D., thethen Undersecretary of Health for the Veterans Administration, changed a long-standing policy of that federal agency and reflects that
issues are what is important whenevaluating the use of cannabis in conjunction with other ameliorative drugs prescribed toveterans. Whether from the
 National Cancer Institute
website, the online stored copy of Dr. Petzel’s letter, or from the PDF of the government’s cannabis patent, you can quicklygo to the website of the
Office of National Drug Control Policy
to then be told that“medical” marijuana is a myth.Deputy Attorney General Cole’s June 29, 2011 memorandum was preceded by the passage of Oakland Municipal Code Chapter 5.81. In late-2010 and early-2011, there wereseveral warehouses in Oakland that had been slated for gigantic “marijuana” factories.Permits were being issued by that city to allow the growth of tens of thousands of marijuana plants in these gigantic warehouses that approached a million square feet of space. In Long Beach, that City had similarly approved as part of its ill-fated Long BeachMunicipal Code Chapter 5.87, a huge marijuana factory. A video made by the proprietorsof that factory showed thousands of plants, giant factory equipment, and boasted massive production of marijuana. Both Oakland and Long Beach were looking at the money. Thehuge permit lottery application fees in Long Beach amounted to hundreds of thousands of dollars for marijuana sellers that, through schemes designed to thwart certain limiting provisions of that city’s law, intended to operate multiple facilities.
Mr. Andrè Birotte, Jr.July 24, 2013Page ThreeIn February, 2011, Melinda Haag wrote a letter to the City Attorney of Oakland warning him that the planned massive cultivation facilities would not be acceptable to thefederal sovereign. Prior to her letter, I filed an action against the City of Long Beachaverring that LBMC Chapter 5.87 conflicted with federal law. The plaintiffs in that casewere patients who were members of patient collectives that operated for the benefit of  patients and who could either not afford the $14,742.00 minimum amount demanded byLong Beach or if they could afford that amount would put their respective patient groups in jeopardy. After Ms. Haag sent her letter, the two (2) U.S. Attorneys in Washington statesent a similar letter to then-Governor Christine Gregiore. In various jurisdictions around the country, other U.S. Attorneys made clear their large-scale drug trafficking concerns.It is clear from the chronology leading up to Mr. Cole’s June, 2011 memorandumthat the “illegal drug trafficking” and “thousands” of marijuana plants he was referring towere included in his memorandum to address the issues raised by Ms. Haag. He was notreferring to patients operating as groups who truly operate for patients. He wasn’t referringto people who are driving used cars with more than a hundred thousand miles on them and who rent apartments with the compensation they receive. I’ve seen managing patientsevicted from their personal apartments because they lack sufficient income and who havestruggled and struggled. Those people are not doing what they do to be drug traffickers – they are doing what they do to participate in the patient cooperative process because theycare about patients. Just like people who work for other non-profit organizations arecompensated, the patients who work within the collective process can certainly bereasonably compensated – that doesn’t make them drug traffickers as Mr. Welk presumes.When Mr. Welk tells me there are no collectives that operate in compliance withstate law, it makes clear he either does not know the state’s law and 2008 Attorney Generalguidelines or he is being less than forthcoming about his true intentions. The latter seemsto be the case because after reviewing nearly 1,500 pages of discovery material turned over  by the City of Anaheim including emails between people in your office, the D.E.A., and city personnel, there is never a mention of any review of whether the various Anaheimcollectives (which is all of them) operate in compliance with state law. Rather, the emailthreads often included the same general theme repeated by Mr. Welk during my meetingwith him – 
is going to close every single patient group in the Central District.His answer and the answer given by those Assistant U.S. Attorneys who work in hisdivision to the query, “where will patients go to get medication when all the collectives areclosed?” is likewise telling; If he intended to follow the guidance provided by theDepartment of Justice, that answer would be that the patients can go to those patientcollectives in full-compliance with state law. Knowing he intends to close all groups

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