UPDATE: Pharmacy Hoax Revealed
San Diego, CA – The San Diego chapter of Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the nation’s largest medical cannabis advocacy group, working with LGBT activism group Canvass for a Cause and as part of the The Yes Men’s “Yes Labs” project, released a series of satirical press releases on Tuesday which indicated that U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy would begin targeting pharmacies for closure using asset forfeiture proceedings. The purpose of the action was to draw attention to the U.S. Attorney’s harmful efforts to deny patients access to doctor-recommended medical cannabis.
“Just as the closure of retail pharmacies, like CVS or Walgreens, is poor public health policy, so is the federal government’s crackdown on medical cannabis dispensaries,” said Eugene Davidovich of San Diego ASA. “Pharmacies, like medical cannabis dispensaries, play an essential role in our communities as they help the sick and dying treat and manage various medical conditions,” continued Davidovich. “Laura Duffy and the Obama Administration have no place interfering in the implementation of state law by shutting down dispensaries that thousands of patients rely on.”
The real Laura Duffy isn’t joking. In October 2011, Duffy and her fellow U.S. Attorneys in California began an escalated attack on medical cannabis businesses. “The California marijuana industry is not about providing medicine to the sick,” said Duffy at the time. “It’s a pervasive for-profit industry that violates federal law.” Since October, Duffy has used threats of criminal prosecution and asset forfeiture to close over two hundred medical cannabis facilities in her District.
Despite claims from Attorney General Eric Holder that his Justice Department was only targeting dispensaries operating “out of conformity with state law,” Duffy and the other U.S. Attorneys have indiscriminately targeted these facilities, regardless of “conformity,” shutting down all but a few in San Diego County. Most recently Duffy attempted to shut down the only collective in her district that is operating under a permit from the Sheriff’s department.
For many patients who cannot sustain the regular consumption of pharmaceutical medication, cannabis isn’t simply an alternative; it’s their only option. From reducing nausea and increasing appetite for people living with cancer or HIV/AIDS to stabilizing chronic pain, the vast majority of California’s medical cannabis patients rely on dispensaries. Advocates argue that by closing dispensaries, Duffy and other U.S. Attorneys are pushing thousands of patients into the illicit market and complicating the job of law enforcement.
“Today’s press releases may have been a hoax, but for the thousands of patients adversely impacted by Duffy’s attacks on medical cannabis, it’s no joke. The LGBT community fought hard to legalize HIV/AIDS medicine for their family and we carry on that tradition today” said Rachel Scoma, from Canvass for a Cause. “Patients need safe and legal access to their medication, not prosecution from the federal government.”
The Los Angeles Times is retracting a story that was posted on their website this morning at 8:42 am:
20 San Diego pharmacies targeted by feds in drug sales crackdown
Twenty pharmacies in San Diego suspected of unusually high rates of drug sales are being targeted for a variety of enforcement actions, U.S. attorney Laura Duffy announced Tuesday.
The pharmacies, including some owned by major chains, are in the La Jolla, Carmel Valley and Pacific Beach areas of San Diego, Duffy said.
The enforcement actions will include civil forfeiture lawsuits, warning letters to pharmacy owners and criminal charges. Some will be given 45 days to shut down or face harsher penalties, Duffy said. The specific pharmacies are expected to be announced later Tuesday.
The pharmacies “are part of a pervasive for-profit industry that facilitates the distribution of drugs for illegitimate use,” Duffy said in a prepared statement.
Other pharmacies may be included later, officials said.
Duffy said she hopes the action by her office becomes a model for other U.S. attorney offices.
“Prosecutorial discretion means I decide how and when to enforce laws,” she said.
It wasn’t just the LA Times that got hoodwinked, it was the San Diego Reader that fell hook, link and sinker for the bogus email as well.
What’s truly pathetic about this matter is that if you read the actual text of the “hoax” email, it’s clear—and I mean to say that it’s not even a little bit debatable—that it is a satirical commentary on the ridiculous crackdown on legal, state-sanctioned medical marijuana dispensaries!
For fuck’s sake, did they even read this before they reported on it? Evidently not!
OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA San Diego, California
United States Attorney Laura E. Duffy
For Further Information, Contact: Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank Shiner (619) 619-302-5235
For Immediate Release
UNITED STATES ATTORNEY PUTS PHARMACY OPERATORS AND PROPERTY OWNERS ON NOTICE
Curbing illegal drug use via shutdowns will keep communities safe.
NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – July 31, 2012 United States Attorney Laura E. Duffy today announced enforcement actions against local pharmacies for distribution of drugs for illegal purposes. Immediate enforcement will target pharmacies in the Coastal areas of La Jolla, Carmel Valley, and Pacific Beach; chosen for both the high rates of pharmaceutical drug abuse and high property values of targeted pharmacies. Affected pharmacies will have 45 days to shutdown in order to avoid harsher penalties.
The Pharmaceutical shutdown initiative is aimed at curtailing drug abuse and its associated societal problems in the Southern District of California. Enforcement is proceeding against twenty pharmacies in San Diego County and will include actions such as: Civil forfeiture lawsuits against properties involved in drug trafficking activity, which includes, in some cases, sales consistent with state or local ordinances; Letters of warning to the owners and lienholders of properties where potentially illegal sales are taking place; and Criminal cases targeting commercial pharmaceutical activities.
“These pharmacies are not only about providing medicine to the sick. They are part of a pervasive for-profit industry that facilitates the distribution of drugs for illegitimate use. Doctors are prescribing unneeded medication; kids are overdosing on aspirin; police are finding pill bottles at junior high schools. Addiction and abuse of these drugs are serious problems in our communities and parents have come to me with their concerns. These pharmacies have provided not just medication - prescription and otherwise - but all the serious repercussions that come with it, including significant public safety issues and often irreparable harm to our youth.” said Duffy.
The Southern District of California will be the first in the nation to confront the problems associated with drug abuse by targeting storefront pharmacies with asset forfeiture proceedings. The operation will also be a model of fiscal discipline as asset forfeiture may render enforcement efforts cost-neutral.
If successful in San Diego, Duffy’s office will lobby for the implementation of this policy throughout the United States.
“Prosecutorial discretion means I decide how and when to enforce laws. Although this action is unprecedented, in my judgment it’s necessary to ensure we continue making progress in the war on drugs. Economic decline, climate threats, cybercrime, illegal immigration, and a general loss of faith in the political process have colored these drastic times. Now is the time to get tough in a fiscally responsible way.” Duffy stated.
Asset forfeiture is the seizure of property found to have been used for an illegal purpose. The tactic has been used to nearly end access to medical marijuana in San Diego. In 2011, the Southern District of California seized $29.7 million in property using asset forfeiture.
Though initially only twenty pharmacies will be targeted for closure, the office of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of California will continue to investigate facilities which illegally provide dangerous substances to our communities.
For Press Inquiries contact: Frank Shiner, Deputy Assistant to the US Attorney, Logistics and Narcotics (619) 302-5235***
How much more obvious could this be, huh? I guess the best place to hide something is right out in the open, no one ever thinks to look there!
United States Attorney Laura E. Duffy, whose office was supposedly the source for the prank press release, said “We did not issue those press releases. We are looking into the source of those emails.”
I’m sure they will be. Don’t look for anyone to step forward to take credit for this particular prank, ‘cos this looks like it might be a federal offense. Still, it’s a sophisticated prank and well done to the perpetrator! Long may you prank!
Thank you, Morpheus!