Pledging Pain for DEA

June 6 marked a national day of protest against the Drug Enforcement Administration's ongoing raids of medical marijuana clinics in nine states and continued harassment and jailing of medical marijuana patients nationwide. In Austin, members of the local chapter of Americans for Safe Access tried to deliver a "truce" to the DEA's office, but federal agents refused to admit the dozen activists who had gathered outside the agency's Austin headquarters, said ASA's Tracey Hayes. "They barricaded themselves inside the safety of their federal building," Hayes said, "which is illegal, since federal buildings are supposed to be open to the public." The truce, Hayes said, asked the DEA to become more open and responsive to citizens' communications regarding medical marijuana, and to seek options other than imprisonment for medical marijuana patients. "But, it said that if that doesn't happen, that we will increase or level of involvement and acts of civil disobedience," she said. "Basically we made a pledge to be a pain in the ass."

Meanwhile, one of ASA's affinity groups hung a 34-foot banner from Zilker Park's moon tower, emblazoned with the word "medicine" in red letters surrounded by green marijuana leaves. The city removed the banner, Hayes said, and its hangers wish to remain anonymous, "since the action was illegal." Nationwide, 55 similar protests occurred simultaneously. In Washington, D.C., 10 drug reform activists -- including Kevin Zeese, head of Common Sense for Drug Policy -- were jailed after chaining themselves to the front entrance of the Dept. of Justice. For more info on the protests and upcoming events, visit www.safeaccessnow.org.

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