Cannabis News Media Awareness Project
  San Diego Says No To Drugs
Posted by CN Staff on September 16, 2006 at 09:26:03 PT
By Allison Hoffman, Associated Press Writer 
Source: Associated Press 

medical San Diego -- This seaside city was a bystander as liberal strongholds like San Francisco and Santa Cruz created identification cards for sick patients who use marijuana and wrote regulations to permit storefront pot dispensaries.

Now, 10 years after Californians voted to decriminalize marijuana for medical purposes, conservative San Diego County is leading a backlash against the groundbreaking law.

The county is challenging California's medical marijuana law in state court, saying it should not be required to comply with a state law directing counties to issue ID cards to users. At the same time, local police, working with federal agents, have shuttered all of the nearly 30 marijuana dispensaries in the county.

San Diego's legal showdown pits state laws that permit marijuana use for medical reasons against federal laws that prohibit the drug. At stake: California's decade-old law and the industry it spawned, with potentially far-reaching consequences for other states.

"This is the first time that a county has said that the state is forcing them to do something they don't want to do," said Anjuli Verma, director of advocacy for the Drug Law Reform Project of the American Civil Liberties Union. "If they prevail, it will set a precedent that basically means medical marijuana laws are over."

Since California's Compassionate Use Act was passed in 1996, 10 other states - Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington - have passed laws protecting qualified patients from prosecution. Voters in South Dakota decide a medical marijuana ballot measure in November.

California's law allows people suffering AIDS, cancer, anorexia, chronic pain, arthritis and migraine and "any other illness for which marijuana provides relief" to grow or possess small amounts of marijuana with a doctor's recommendation.

In 2003, the California Legislature amended the 1996 bill to direct county health departments to issue ID cards to medical marijuana users.

Counties, which did not receive money to fulfill the requirement, have been slow to issue ID cards, but San Diego was the first to refuse on legal grounds. Under threat of a lawsuit from the local chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, the county struck first and sued the organization - and the state.

"We're trying to get the court to tell the state they've gone too far in telling the counties to do something that facilitates the ability of a person to break federal law," said John Sansone, San Diego's county counsel.

The state attorney general contends in court filings that California is entitled to pass its own state drug laws and legislate programs relating to the use of medical marijuana.

Two other California counties, San Bernardino and Merced, have joined as plaintiffs in the case, which is scheduled to be heard in November in San Diego Superior Court.

San Diego's board of supervisors entered the legal fray shortly after dispensaries with names like Legal Ease, Holistic Healers and Chronic Care Co-op began popping up in coastal enclaves, thanks to the 2003 law, which created a legal framework for the dispensaries.

California has an estimated 200 storefronts that serve about 200,000 people, according to Americans for Safe Access, a group that advocates medical marijuana laws. San Francisco, Berkeley and Los Angeles have passed guidelines regulating the shops.

San Diego prosecutors say neighbors complained about one store in the summer of 2005, prompting an investigation that culminated in joint Drug Enforcement Administration and local police raids in July.

Fifteen operators were charged with illegally selling the drug for recreational use to people who are not ill - including one undercover agent who prosecutors say got a doctor to give him a medical marijuana recommendation for his dog.

A lawyer for one of the men, Stephen Harding, who ran Native Sun Dispensary, expressed dismay at the charges.

"These guys were complying with the regulations as they've been laid out," said Jan Ronis. "You have people relying on what seems to be guidance from the state and then the county shoots it down. It's really frustrating."

The remaining stores and delivery services in the county closed after receiving phone calls and visits from law enforcement agents warning that they and their landlords may be prosecuted.

San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said the state law does not require local authorities to permit marijuana storefronts.

"It's the tolerance level in the community that rules in the end," she said. "I think in Northern California they're much more tolerant than in this part of Southern California."

Source: Associated Press (Wire)
Author: Allison Hoffman, Associated Press Writer
Published: September 16, 2006
Copyright: 2006 Associated Press

Related Articles & Web Sites:

Drug Policy Alliance
http://www.drugpolicy.org/

Americans For Safe Access
http://www.safeaccessnow.org/

County Enters Medical Pot Challenge
http://cannabisnews.com/news/thread22146.shtml

Ruling Lets ACLU, Others Join Suit
http://cannabisnews.com/news/thread22044.shtml

Patients Get OK To Oppose MMJ Challenge
http://cannabisnews.com/news/thread22040.shtml


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Comment #8 posted by global_warming on September 17, 2006 at 06:36:52 PT
its pretty difficult to not be angry
when I see Cannabis prohibition as some kind of government giveaway, to see millions of people going to prisons for some relatively harmless plant, then the authorities say, if you don't like the law then change it, then you see authority marching up and down aisle resisting any changes to the law.

This ridiculous behavior by the legislative people in Colorado just shows me the underhanded lengths these prohibitionist profiteers will sink to keep this immoral gravy train on its crooked path.

This has to change.

Go Colorado



[ Post Comment ]

 
Comment #7 posted by whig on September 16, 2006 at 14:04:10 PT
gw
Take some responsibility then and be that yourself. Speak what you know, not out of spite or anger, but out of love and concern.

Tell me how it should be, by becoming that which you should.

Do not spit. Do not make yourself a mirror of that you hate.

I want you to become Christian but you may use any metaphor you like. So you talk about Jesus a lot and what happened. So do not be an angry dissenter, be a preacher of truth.

[ Post Comment ]

 
Comment #6 posted by global_warming on September 16, 2006 at 12:52:37 PT
re I don't think it works that way.
How does it work?

My Prayers



[ Post Comment ]

 
Comment #5 posted by whig on September 16, 2006 at 12:25:29 PT
Oh
For his dog?

I misread that.

Weird. That one might be a problem.

[ Post Comment ]

 
Comment #4 posted by whig on September 16, 2006 at 12:24:47 PT
Pharmacists don't diagnose. Doctors do.
"Fifteen operators were charged with illegally selling the drug for recreational use to people who are not ill - including one undercover agent who prosecutors say got a doctor to give him a medical marijuana recommendation for his dog."

Um. So if someone goes to a doctor and gets a prescription for Vicodin or something, based on false pretenses, and brings that prescription to the pharmacist, the pharmacist is supposed to be liable for dispensing recreational opiates?

I don't think it works that way. And neither should it be even imagined that a dispensary has the expertise to evaluate whether a doctor's examination was properly made.

[ Post Comment ]

 
Comment #3 posted by global_warming on September 16, 2006 at 12:22:18 PT
Tell Me Again
Over and over again, how we are on that correct path..



[ Post Comment ]

 
Comment #2 posted by global_warming on September 16, 2006 at 12:03:50 PT
and where are the priests?
To bring Knowledge about Salvation?

There are so many Pastors and Humans who profess about Jesus and Christendom, the Pope and all those mighty Catholics can not even offer a small piece of paper to wipe my ass.

In this bloody war on people.

This has to change.



[ Post Comment ]

 
Comment #1 posted by global_warming on September 16, 2006 at 10:22:50 PT
What do the people of San Diego Say
So far all I see is the comments of lawyers, district attorneys and prosecutors. What do the people have to say?

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