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More DOJ Med-Mari Busts

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After a marked lull in activity, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft's Department of Justice is back in the swing of things, teaming with the Drug Enforcement Administration to continue their high-profile busts of California medical marijuana growers. In mid-August, federal law-enforcers busted two more California growers – Eddy Lepp's Medicinal Gardens and Multi-Denominational Church of Cannabis and Rastafari, and the Capitol Compassion Care dispensary outside Sacramento – even though both groups say they were operating in compliance with state law. Nonetheless, on Sept. 8 the DOJ moved forward with a plan to seize the CCC's assets. Agents seized 30,000 marijuana plants from Lepp's garden, which provided marijuana to hundreds of medi-pot patients, Lepp told the Drug Reform Coordination Network. Lepp is facing the possibility of two life sentences for his medi-mari growing enterprise.

In 1996, California voters approved the state's compassionate use act, which legalized medical marijuana in the state. The law has been upheld by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals – a ruling that the DOJ has appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which is scheduled to consider the case this fall. Still, San Francisco DEA agent Richard Meyer scoffed at the notion of legal medi-pot. "There is no such thing as medical marijuana. ... That's a label invented by the marijuana lobby to further their agenda," he said. "They want to legalize it for all purposes, but since they know there is no support for that, they came up with the idea of so-called compassionate use."

In other drug-related news, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee is set to consider a bill reauthorizing the Office of National Drug Control Policy – a bill that would also renew the nasty Higher Education Act. Since 1998, drug reformers have been actively seeking to repeal the HEA, which denies federal aid – including loans, grants, and work-study jobs – to students with any sort of drug conviction on their record.

Drug reformers decry the law, pointing out that it unfairly punishes a person twice for the same crime and disproportionately affects low-income students. Fortunately – or not, perhaps – HEA foes in Texas have someone to complain to about the discriminatory law: committee member Sen. John Cornyn. For more info on the HEA, go to www.raiseyourvoice.com; to voice opposition – or support – for the HEA, contact Cornyn by phone at 202/224-5251 or by fax at 202/228-2856.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Weed Watch, Department of Justice, medical marijuana, Eddy Lepp, Capital Compassionate Care, Drug Enforcement Administration, DEA, Higher Education Act, John Cornyn

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