'Wake Up and Smell the Cannabis': Harborside Health Center co-founder Steve DeAngelo releases statement on passage of Hinchey-Rohrabacher Amendment by U.S. House


OAKLAND, CALIF., May 30, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- On Thursday, May 29, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Hinchey-Rohrabacher medical marijuana amendment, prohibiting the U.S. Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) from appropriating funds to raid, arrest or prosecute medical marijuana patients and providers in states where medical marijuana is legal. Today, long-time activist, co-founder and executive director of Harborside Health Center—the nation's largest, state-legal, model nonprofit medical cannabis dispensary—Steve DeAngelo, releases the following statement on this monumental decision:

"Message to elected officials and candidates everywhere: the passage of the Hinchey-Rohrabacher Amendment by the U.S. House of Representatives was no accident. In fact, Hinchey-Rohrabacher has been one of the central goals of the medical cannabis movement for almost 20 years, and its passage is a clear sign of our movement's growing political sophistication and potency. Prohibitionists who predicted 'the stoners' would just lose motivation and forget about it have been proven decisively wrong. With public opinion polls showing overwhelming bipartisan support for medical cannabis nationwide, and some sort of medical cannabis laws passed in half the states—even Florida and Georgia—those politicians feckless enough to resist the tide are rapidly running out of places to hide.

"Of course, Hinchey-Rohrabacher will not become law unless and until the Senate passes it, and the President signs the appropriations measure to which it is attached. Regardless, it is now time for the functionaries of our democracy to wake up and smell the cannabis.

"In the United States, we invest public servants with some degree of discretion, to ensure that our laws are administered consistently with our social consensus and sense of justice. Public employees whose personal views prevent them from implementing the new public consensus on cannabis should either set aside those views, modify them, or find new jobs—perhaps in the rapidly shrinking ranks of professional anti-cannabis advocates.

"Anti-scientific bureaucrats like DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart, who can't tell the difference between heroin and cannabis, should either take some lessons at Oaksterdam University, or do the decent thing and resign. U.S. attorneys—like Melinda Haag in the Northern District of California, and Ben Wagner in the Eastern District of California—who continue to prosecute state-legal medical cannabis providers, should either drop those actions or be fired by the attorney general of the United States for insubordination.

"The latest outrageous flouting of state law, this time by the U.S. Attorney Michael Ormsby for the Eastern District of Washington, shows the real world damage caused by these out-of-control ideologues. Ormsby is prosecuting Larry Harvey, a 70-year-old retired truck driver and state-legal medical cannabis patient, on federal cannabis charges. Harvey, three family members and a friend (now know as the 'Kettle Falls 5') were growing 70 cannabis plants to medicate a variety of ailments including gout, osteoarthritis, wasting syndrome, and chronic pain from severe back injuries.

"All five had legally valid written recommendations from their doctors, and were growing and using cannabis in accordance with Washington's medical cannabis law. Now all five are facing sentences of 10 years to life, because Michael Ormsby has decided to ignore both state cannabis law and overwhelming public support for medical cannabis.

"It is well past time for this sort of nonsense to end. American democracy provides citizens the ability to change laws, and remove elected officials who flout our will. But lacking a more direct mechanism, we citizens depend on those same elected officials to supervise and control the public servants who actually administer justice.

"Recent election wins, overwhelmingly supportive public opinion polls, a tsunami of state medical cannabis laws, and the passage of Hinchey-Rohrabacher make it crystal clear: it's time for our elected representatives to reign in the out-of-control federal drug bureaucracy. Those elected officials who fail to take action do so at their own peril. Contrary to myth, cannabis consumers have very good long-term memories and staying power. The long sought passage of Hinchey-Rohrabacher proves it."

About Harborside Health Center:

Founded by national cannabis leader, Steve DeAngelo, in 2006, Harborside Health Center is the nation's largest, not-for-profit, model medical cannabis dispensary. The San Jose and Oakland medicinal cannabis collective offers its 130,000 registered patients free holistic healing services, lab-tested medicine and education. Harborside was featured on the Discovery Channel miniseries, "Weed Wars," in December 2011 (now streaming on Netflix), on the premiere episode of CNN's "Inside Man," hosted by Morgan Spurlock in June 2013, and in Fortune Magazine's cover story, "Yes We Cannabis," in April 2013. DeAngelo also co-founded the nation's first cannabis-testing facility, Steep Hill Lab, and the country's first cannabis investment firm, The ArcView Group. "Out of the shadows and into the light" epitomizes DeAngelo's mission to enlighten the public on the many medicinal and therapeutic benefits of the cannabis plant and actively works to empower the country to change its image of medical marijuana.