Pot Protest at S.F. Federal Building
After a few days of meetings and listening to their clients, the leaders of the Market Street Coop have decided to stage a protest and presser at the office of the federal prosecutor who is forcing them to go out of business. As far as I know, this is the first public action taking place protesting the recent harassment and closure of several California medical marijuana dispensaries by the Obama administration. Please spread the word about Monday's demonstration and join us.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 9, 2012
Medical Cannabis Patients Protest Closure of SF Dispensary
Patients and supporters of one of San Francisco's longest running dispensaries will hold a press conference and rally in front of the Federal Building located at 450 Golden Gate Avenue at 11 a.m. on Monday, January 9, to protest its closure due to federal pressure on the dispensary's landlord.
U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California Melinda Haag sent a letter to Market Street Cooperative's landlord, threatening to forfeit their building and rent money received unless the dispensary ceased operations by January 9, 2012. Haag's action stands in stark contrast to the Obama administration's promise to leave dispensaries alone, so long as they abided by state and local laws.
Announcement of the dispensary's closure came as a huge surprise to the thousands of patients it serves. The cooperative has long been renowned for its low cost medical cannabis and other free services it offers to its patients, including free yoga, acupuncture, and chair massage.
"We offer some of the lowest cost medical cannabis in San Francisco. We have seriously ill patient members who are unsure of what to do and panicked that they may not be able to access their medicine at an affordable price," said Tate Swindell, the cooperative's spokesperson.
"We went through great lengths to obtain city permits, pay taxes, employ staff at a living wage with benefits, donate to community and non-profit organizations, and provide free and low cost medical cannabis and alternative health therapies to our patients. Instead of embracing the transparency that lawful dispensaries offer, the feds are denying patients access and forcing them into a costly and unsafe black market," noted Tate Swindell.
"As a longtime person living with AIDS, I take a daily cocktail of pills and in 2011 my total drug costs were $48,000 and the side-effects of the cocktail were lessened because I had access to affordable, organic medicinal cannabis from the Market Street Coop. My health was balanced and my spirits were upbeat, thanks to the healing herb prescribed by my physician at the SF Department of Public Health. Federal prosecutor Melinda Haag is jeopardizing my ability to legally obtain medical cannabis that is helping to keep me alive. I hold President Obama responsible for the shameful closures of jobs-generating, tax-paying dispensaries. This is no way to save lives and win votes from California voters," said Michael Petrelis, a member of the coop for more than a decade.
A dispensary has been operating at the location (1884 Market Street) since September of 1998. Market Street Cooperative opened its doors in July 2007.
Contact: Tate Swindell (415) 685-7262