Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

Prohibitionists Attack, Reformers Fundraise


Fierce rollback efforts by the Drug Warriors in California have been complemented by a defeat for reform lobbyists in Congress. Since June there has been a “huge upsurge” in asset-forfeiture cases against medical marijuana providers in the Eastern and Central Districts of California, says attorney Brenda Grantland. In one instance the bank accounts of a dispensary proprietor’s daughter -“who had nothing to do with the dispensary,” according to Grantland- were seized.

In early July the DEA sent letters to more than 150 Los Angeles area landlords advising that they had rented to cannabis dispensaries. Putting landlords on notice is required under the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000 before the government can seize their property. How many clubs will be evicted remains to be seen -clubs pay much higher rents than other tenants, the chances of the feds moving against any given property owner are slim, and the ensuing lawsuits may be winnable.

DEA raids closed eight Los Angeles dispensaries this week; no arrests were made. Proprietors of dispensaries raided the week before in Bakersfield, Morro Bay, San Luis Obispo, Corona, Riverside, and Palm Springs face federal cultivation-for-sale charges. DEA spokeswoman Sarah Pullen has characterized the raided clubs as “the most egregious traffickers.” Meaning they were serving the most people.

Some of the raids evoked militant responses. In Los Angeles a crowd of more than 200 supporters assembled outside the California Patients Group on Santa Monica Boulevard. Their presence may have convinced the raiders not to arrest the staff and customers being detained within. In Corona, as DEA agents were taking down the “Healing Nations” dispensary, there was an outpouring of support on the street outside. The “boisterous and emotional” demonstration was described in the Inland News:

“With signs and chants and spontaneous cries, they invoked state law and patients rights, and berated federal agents and police. ‘What are the police going to do for people like me? Do they care that people are going to suffer?’ said Corona resident David Martinez, 45, who suffers from painful tumors and back problems and has patronized Healing Nations Collective since it opened in May 2006. Many others said that medical marijuana was the best treatment for their host of painful and life-disrupting conditions. ‘It gave me my life back,’ said 47-year-old Riverside resident Kathy Jones, who said a regimen of heavy painkillers taken for fibromyalgia and other conditions had previously left her incapacitated. ‘I’m not a druggie, I’m a patient,’ she said through tears.©˜

The Bakersfield Californian headlined its account of a protest “Medical Pot Users Storm Meeting.” A DEA raid had closed the city’s largest dispensary, Nature’s Medicinal Cooperative, on July 16, and five smaller clubs quickly shut down in fear. On July 24, reported the Californian, “A large group of Kern County medical marijuana users and supporters demanded county supervisors uphold state law.” They were incensed by Sheriff Donny Youngblood’s enforcing federal rather than state law by participating in the raid on Nature’s Medicinal Co-op. Protester Darriel Herron called on local officials to “stand up to the people who are trying to run us down.”

Sympathy for the protest was conveyed by many county employees -members of the Service Employees International Union- who were attending the supes’ meeting in connection with their contract negotiations.

While the DEA was terrorizing medical-marijuana users in Southern California, Drug Czar John Walters flew into Redding to publicize an eradication program called “Operation Alesia.” It’s named after a battle in 52 BC at which the Roman Empire finally defeated the Gauls. (Walters’s father helped direct “Operation Phoenix” in Vietnam.) Operation Alesia involves 17 agencies, including the California National Guard. The crews arrive in Black Hawk helicopters and the campesinos fade into the forest, resulting in no arrests as of July 18, the date of Walters visit. The Redding Record-Searchlight reported that Walters said “the people who plant and tend the gardens are terrorists who wouldn’t hesitate to help other terrorists get into the country with the aim of causing mass casualties. ‘Don’t buy drugs. They fund violence and terror,’ he said.”

Takes one to know one, they say.

Meanwhile, from their offices with the Beltway, leaders of the drug-policy reform movement spent most of July dispatching urgent appeals to “write your member of Congress” in support of the Hinchey-Rohrabacher amendment (and send us money). The amendment would have banned funding for DEA raids on marijuana growers and dispensaries protected by state law. It has been the main focus of lobbying efforts by the Marijuana Policy Project, the Drug Policy Alliance, and others. It garnered 165 votes–only two more than it got last year, despite the influx of Democrats. Rob Kampia of MPP had the gall to send out a fundraising letter the next day calling it a “record vote.” (The real meaning of “write your member of Congress” is “pull your pud.”)

Our leaders who art in Washington fancy themselves brilliant public relations strategists. You’d think they’d want to appeal to Mexican Americans (13.5 million strong and very aware, politically). Yet they court the likes of immigrant-basher Dana Rohrabacher and glory in getting him as a co-sponsor for their unwieldy stop-the-DEA bill!

Last week Rohrabacher and Lou Dobbs outdid each other in demanding clemency for two US border patrol guards who shot an unarmed man in the back and then lied about what happened. The man had been caught trying to smuggle marijuana into the US and was fleeing in retreat when the guards opened fire. The INS pressed charges against them and Dobbs is outraged that a US government agency would consider an illegal alien marijuana smuggler a human being.)

Lou Dobbs (to Dana Rohrbacher) Congressman, you are a true patriot.

Rohrbacher: Lou, you are a great American

Lou: The American people can sleep at night because patriots like you are defending this country.

Rohrbacher: You are a defender of the American people, sir.


Fred Gardner is the managing editor of O’Shaughnessy’s. He can be reached at

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


October 24, 2016
John Steppling
The Unwoke: Sleepwalking into the Nightmare
Oscar Ortega
Clinton’s Troubling Silence on the Dakota Access Pipeline
Patrick Cockburn
Aleppo vs. Mosul: Media Biases
John Grant
Humanizing Our Militarized Border
Franklin Lamb
US-led Sanctions Targeting Syria Risk Adjudication as War Crimes
Paul Bentley
There Must Be Some Way Out of Here: the Silence of Dylan
Norman Pollack
Militarism: The Elephant in the Room
Patrick Bosold
Dakota Access Oil Pipeline: Invite CEO to Lunch, Go to Jail
Paul Craig Roberts
Was Russia’s Hesitation in Syria a Strategic Mistake?
David Swanson
Of All the Opinions I’ve Heard on Syria
Weekend Edition
October 21, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Wight
Hillary Clinton and the Brutal Murder of Gaddafi
Diana Johnstone
Hillary Clinton’s Strategic Ambition in a Nutshell
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Trump’s Naked and Hillary’s Dead
John W. Whitehead
American Psycho: Sex, Lies and Politics Add Up to a Terrifying Election Season
Stephen Cooper
Hell on Earth in Alabama: Inside Holman Prison
Patrick Cockburn
13 Years of War: Mosul’s Frightening and Uncertain Future
Rob Urie
Name the Dangerous Candidate
Pepe Escobar
The Aleppo / Mosul Riddle
David Rosen
The War on Drugs is a Racket
Sami Siegelbaum
Once More, the Value of the Humanities
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
Neve Gordon
Israel’s Boycott Hypocrisy
Mark Hand
Of Pipelines and Protest Pens: When the Press Loses Its Shield
Victor Wallis
On the Stealing of U.S. Elections
Michael Hudson
The Return of the Repressed Critique of Rentiers: Veblen in the 21st century Rentier Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Drumbeats of Anti-Russia Confrontation From Washington to London
Howard Lisnoff
Still Licking Our Wounds and Hoping for Change
Brian Gruber
Iraq: There Is No State
Peter Lee
Trump: We Wish the Problem Was Fascism
Stanley L. Cohen
Equality and Justice for All, It Seems, But Palestinians
Steve Early
In Bay Area Refinery Town: Berniecrats & Clintonites Clash Over Rent Control
Kristine Mattis
All Solutions are Inadequate: Why It Doesn’t Matter If Politicians Mention Climate Change
Peter Linebaugh
Ron Suny and the Marxist Commune: a Note
Andre Vltchek
Sudan, Africa and the Mosaic of Horrors
Keith Binkly
The Russians Have Been Hacking Us For Years, Why Is It a Crisis Now?
Jonathan Cook
Adam Curtis: Another Manager of Perceptions
Ted Dace
The Fall
Sheldon Richman
Come and See the Anarchy Inherent in the System
Susana Hurlich
Hurricane Matthew: an Overview of the Damages in Cuba
Dave Lindorff
Screwing With and Screwing the Elderly and Disabled
Chandra Muzaffar
Cuba: Rejecting Sanctions, Sending a Message
Dennis Kucinich
War or Peace?
Joseph Natoli
Seething Anger in the Post-2016 Election Season
Jack Rasmus
Behind The 3rd US Presidential Debate—What’s Coming in 2017
Ron Jacobs
A Theory of Despair?