Setback for legal marijuana? Pot raid rattles top cannabis crusader.
A federal raid on the marijuana businesses of Richard Lee has convinced the legal-marijuana leader to take a step back. It could mark an important moment for the movement.
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Still many acknowledge the role Lee played in advancing the medical-marijuana movement.Skip to next paragraph
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Standing outside the Med’s Merchant marijuana dispensary in the Los Angeles suburb of Sherman Oaks, where she goes for marijuana to ease chronic back pain, Stephanie Menlo says: “He did for marijuana legalization and acceptance what any good pioneer does: carve out the way in a society that is not yet ready to embrace a good thing."
Marijuana advocates say he helped changed the national conversation on marijuana.
“Richard was changing the way the public think about cannabis. That is why the Obama administration targeted him … and is trying to silence him,” says Paul Armentano, deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, via e-mail. “Richard Lee’s activism – opening the nation's first brick-and-mortar cannabis college, bankrolling Proposition 19, which nearly succeeded in legalizing the adult use of marijuana in California, and revitalizing downtown Oakland – did more than just sway public opinion, it changed the culture,”
Activists say the cause will continue.
“The movement to end the government's war on marijuana users will continue unabated, in California and across the nation, until sensible policies are in place,” says Morgan Fox, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, via e-mail. “The massive public show of support that Richard Lee and the medical-marijuana community have received, both from regular citizens and lawmakers alike in light of these federal attacks is a testament to this reality. "
But outside the Sherman Oaks Medical Marijuana Relief Clinic, Todd Barrett sees a different legacy.
"These guys who have tried to legitimize drug use, though well intentioned, have done a bad thing," he says. "I’m glad to see him go.”
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