Hundreds of people rallied in front of Oakland City Hall earlier today to call on President Barack Obama to stop the federal government's crackdown on the medical marijuana industry and city-permitted dispensaries.
Obama visited the East Bay today for three fund raisers: one at the Scottish Rite Center on Lake Merritt, one at a private home in Piedmont, and one at 8 p.m. at the Fox Theater.
"If President Obama isn't coming to announce sweeping change at the federal level his presence is neither welcomed or desired here," resident Summer Hemphill said in an email message to Berkeley Patch.
Federal prosecutors shut down the Berkeley Patients Group in May. In a letter sent to the property owner, U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag said her office would file a forfeiture action if BPG continued to distribute medical marijuana at the San Pablo Avenue location.
Dale Gieringer, the director of California NORML, a lobbying group trying to reform marijuana laws, said he believes Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder have reneged on their promise to respect medical marijuana laws in states such as California, which allow medical marijuana dispensaries.
California's voter-approved Compassionate Use Act of 1996 allows seriously ill patients to use cannabis with a doctor's approval. But federal laws prohibiting the use of the drug supersede the state statute.
"This is a watershed moment in which we will show what we are made of," said Stephen DeAngelo, who is fighting the government's effort to shut down Harborside Health Center, his medical marijuana dispensary in Oakland.
"There is a determined campaign to end safe access to medical marijuana across the state and the nation," but medicinal cannabis advocates like himself won't let that happen, he said: "We want to tell President Obama that he should direct federal law enforcement to have its actions be consistent with his own administration's policy."
-- Bay City News Service contributed to this report