Morality Play: San Diego County Goes on Warpath

Morality Play: San Diego County Goes on Warpath
Posted by CN Staff on December 22, 2005 at 21:22:34 PT
By Kelly Davis
Source: Los Angeles City Beat
California -- In an all-out assault on patients who use state-legalized medical marijuana, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted on Tuesday, December 6, to challenge Proposition 215, the 1996 Compassionate Use Act. Only days later, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency methodically raided every medi-pot dispensary in the county. The supervisors have an historic antipathy to the dispensaries, having gone on record in November that they would fight SB 420, the 2004 state Senate bill that ordered counties to provide ID cards to medical-marijuana patients.
Now they intend to challenge the legality of the Compassionate Use Act, a voter-approved initiative that says chronically ill people with a doctor’s recommendation can use marijuana for medicinal purposes. Prop. 215 won by a 12-point margin statewide and even garnered majority support in traditionally conservative San Diego County. County Counsel John Sansone said his office expects to file the lawsuit in federal court sometime after the first of the year. The lawsuit, he said, will argue that the Controlled Substances Act, the federal law passed by congress in 1970 that classified marijuana as a Schedule I drug – in the same category as PCP, LSD, and heroin – supercedes any state law that legalizes marijuana for medical use. Schedule I drugs are considered to have no medical value. “The question is whether or not [Prop. 215] is written in such a way that it conflicts with federal law,” Sansone said. “Our argument is going to be that we believe they conflict to the point of crossing the line.” Sansone said he advised the supervisors on the pros and cons of filing such a lawsuit but wouldn’t comment further, citing attorney-client privilege. He said that from the beginning, when the supervisors were only going to challenge SB 420, he’d told them it would be an “uphill battle.” “But we’ve had difficult uphill battles before and won them,” Sansone said, adding that his own staff would handle the case. “Taxpayers aren’t going to pay any more or any less for the attorney staff time.” A spokesperson for the state attorney general’s office, which would be defending the law, declined to comment on the case until she saw the actual complaint. Attorney General Bill Lockyer, however, has supported Prop. 215 in the past, arguing that the Controlled Substances Act is an antiquated law, passed before “the ravages of AIDS.” “States are in, by far, the best position to determine whether and under what circumstances the use of cannabis by seriously ill patients should be permitted,” Lockyer wrote in a 2003 legal brief. Proposition 215, however, has always been on shaky ground. Poorly defined from its inception and passed on Dan Lungren’s watch – he former state attorney general who vehemently opposed the ballot measure – medical-marijuana supporters and patients have looked to state and local officials to give the law some structure: How much marijuana can an individual possess? How is law enforcement to handle a person possessing or growing marijuana for medical use? And, more importantly, how are people with a doctor’s recommendations supposed to get marijuana when its sale and purchase remains illegal under state law? Cannabis dispensaries are regularly subjected to raids, evident in the December 12 afternoon raids of 13 San Diego County dispensaries by a swarm of federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents with the aid of local law enforcement See Accompanying Story: despite his disdain for the bill, Lungren never sought to overturn it. Dale Gieringer, who heads California NORML (National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws), said that when Prop. 215 passed, Lungren consulted with federal officials and ultimately decided not to challenge the law. “Lungren declared that 215 was constitutional, since states have a right to decide which laws to enforce,” Gieringer said. He added that a subsequent challenge targeting doctors who recommended marijuana to patients (Conant v. Walters) was struck down in federal court in 2002. In 2003, Angel Raich and Diane Monson sued the federal government to block DEA agents from seizing marijuana from qualified patients. In June, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the federal government’s right to do so, but, said Randy Barnett, a Boston University law professor who was on Raich and Monson’s legal team, the ruling in no way affected California’s medical-marijuana laws. The county supervisors’ pending lawsuit will be the first that seeks to kill the Compassionate Use Act wholesale, said Hilary McQuie, spokesperson for American for Safe Access, a national organization that seeks to protect patients’ rights to use marijuana for medicinal purposes. Despite the Bush administration’s opposition to state medical-marijuana laws (10 states currently have such laws), Glenn Smith, a professor at San Diego’s California Western School of Law, said a challenge to a state law must come from within the state. “The federal government can’t bring a lawsuit to stop an unconstitutional state law. It has to be somebody who is affected by that law and injured by it.” Smith said the latter point can’t be a theoretical one – the supervisors will have to prove someone is, in fact, negatively affected by the law. They could argue, he said, that “they’re being required to spend money by this state law in a way that is a waste to taxpayers’ money.” Supervisor Bill Horn, easily the board’s most vocal critic of medical marijuana, has said that any support for Prop. 215 or SB 420 would send the wrong message, especially to kids. He went so far as to compare the supervisors’ stand against medical-marijuana laws to Rosa Parks’ stand against segregation laws. In June, however, the county grand jury slammed the supervisors for failing to implement SB 420, saying the board had been “blinded by its prejudices against medical marijuana.” “These people are not in the times; they’re living in the Reefer Madness days,” said Mark Bluemel, a San Diego attorney who’s worked on medical-marijuana cases, including that of Steve McWilliams. McWilliams, perhaps San Diego’s most outspoken proponent of medical marijuana, committed suicide in July after a federal judge, under terms of McWilliams’ bail, denied him the ability to use marijuana. McWilliams was severely injured in a 1992 motorcycle accident that left him with chronic migraines and neck pain. He was arrested by DEA agents in 2002 and charged with growing 25 marijuana plants in his backyard, some of which belonged to his partner, Barbara MacKenzie, who suffers from degenerative spinal disorder. Marijuana Policy Project spokesperson Bruce Mirken said that even though the Raich ruling said state medical-marijuana laws don’t offer protection from federal prosecution, “that’s a very different thing from saying states are obligated to enforce federal medical-marijuana laws. “So far as we can tell, the county is whistling in the dark,” Mirken said of the challenge to Prop. 215. “But I think the bigger question is why the county supervisors think that they should defy the will of their own voters? “We have cases that date back to the fugitive slave law, back to the pre-Civil War days in which there were disputes over whether states … had to carry out federal statutes, and it’s always been very clear that they don’t. State and local laws can go in opposite directions.” Barnett, the Boston law professor, called the supervisors’ argument “frivolous.” “No federal court would sustain it,” he said, “and I would ask for sanctions against anyone who raised it.” Note: San Diego County goes on the warpath against popular medical marijuana.Source: Los Angeles City Beat (CA)Author: Kelly DavisPublished: December 22, 2005Copyright: 2005 Southland PublishingContact: deank lacitybeat.comWebsite: Articles & Web Sites:Marijuana Policy Project NORML For Safe Access Returns and Raids SF Marijuana Club Marijuana Provider Raided
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Comment #12 posted by global_warming on December 23, 2005 at 16:06:06 PT
The Breath
Gen 1:29 
God also said, "Look, I have given you every seed-bearing plant on the surface of the entire earth, and every tree whose fruit contains seed. This food will be for you, Gen 1:30
 for all the wildlife of the earth, for every bird of the sky, and for every creature that crawls on the earth--everything having the breath of life in it. I have given every green plant for food." And it was so. 
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Comment #11 posted by potpal on December 23, 2005 at 14:12:16 PT
the seeds of Truth about the race-ism, fascism, class-ism,I hear the words of another revolutionary hero in my book, Abbie Hoffman...All isms should be was'ems.A great read is Abbie's autobiography,
Soon to be a Major Motion Picture. Believe it was too with bad casting, never saw it. What an extraordinary life.
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Comment #10 posted by global_warming on December 23, 2005 at 12:20:17 PT
re:Comment 6
That was beautiful..
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Comment #9 posted by global_warming on December 23, 2005 at 11:42:50 PT
Time To Clean House
“The question is whether or not [Prop. 215] is written in such a way that it conflicts with federal law,” ...The better question is, can the Federal Government clean up its own internal house, before it enacts hasty legislation, that effects the many of the states, can the Federal Government live up to its Honor and Oaths, to protect this US Constitution, perhaps if the Bush Black or White attitude of 'you are either with us or against us were applied to the FDA, the Cannabis issue would quickly be resolved, along with a lot of other corrupted business matters that so much depend upon the 'dollar.
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Comment #8 posted by runruff on December 23, 2005 at 10:40:19 PT
Cyber whinning!
I guess that is what you'd call what I was doing last night. All right I did a little poo me routine last night. I confess that happens once in a while. Thank you all for you support. FoM, love always "matters".
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Comment #7 posted by FoM on December 23, 2005 at 08:41:03 PT
We love you. I know that doesn't help but we do love you. God Bless you and your family durung these trying times you are going thru.
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Comment #6 posted by Toker00 on December 23, 2005 at 04:20:32 PT
But do not despair!
Do not forget, runruff, that there are many individuals and many organizations fighting to end Cannabis Prohibition. And as we do it for everyone, we do it for you. There are signs that common sense is taking hold. You see, we first had to fertilize the ground. (Society) Next, we had to plant the seeds of Truth about the race-ism, fascism, class-ism, and Corporate Conspiracy involved with Cannabis Prohibition. As with most people, the Truth has a hard time penetrating a well-propagandized brain.But, our crops are doing well. With the exposure of our corrupt government in other areas, the people are becoming more approachable with the Truth. The DEA are sealing their own fate. They will be dis-banned or incorporated into this fictitious War of Terror. Hopefully, to the front lines of foreign insurgencies. There they can use their murderous people-torturing devices daily to the horror of non-christian, non-white people worldwide. Once we end Cannabis Prohibition ending the War of Terror will be next.Rest, brother. Your physical world may be under their control, but your spirit is unchain-able. Reflect on what you have shared with us. Remember what we have given you. Hope. Our promise to: "Won't Back Down." Your spirit knows there are many others who will comfort you through out this time, and may find a way for an early release for you. I'm not trying to build false hope for you, just letting you know that when you are having a bad day, and feeling hopeless, that is when you need to just let go and rest. Support for our cause is growing daily. We are Americans. We are the Government. We are changing the laws. OR WE WILL CHANGE THE POLITICIANS. (Hey man, we are rocking the White House big time!) : ) Let's see what happens next November!I know this doesn't do much to lighten your burden, brother. Change will come only when people stop wishing for it and start living it, making it happen. There are a lot of people doing just that. I am smoking a Cannabis Joint right now. I do so in your honor. I AM PROUD TO BE A CANNABIST! Cannabist-i-an?Wage peace on war. END CANNABIS PROHIBITION NOW!    
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Comment #5 posted by kaptinemo on December 23, 2005 at 04:10:41 PT:
They'll never be able to get it
Text of Prop215: years ago I witnessed something which matches what's happening here: a clueless young recruit was given every opportunity to learn from his initial gaffe by an extraordinarily patient drill sergeant, who tried to offer him a way out of a no-win situation, but the kid just couldn't get the hint that he'd screwed up, and kept digging himself deeper with each new word out of his mouth. The rest of us knew what the rules were, that you didn't say or do the things he had, and tried to tell him before, but he was just too dense. The Drill eventually was forced to discipline him, harshly. Just because he simply couldn't take the hint.The San Diego supervisors simply can't 'take the hint', either, it seems. The voters of California have spoken. Loud and clear. But like that boneheaded 'boot', the SD supers just don't seem to be listening. They need to be disciplined, too, for their gaffes. And it still ticks me off to no end that they DARED compare themselves to the late Rosa Parks! What they propose to do is *strip* the MMJ community of their tiny shred of civil rights they possess regarding this issue, not stand up for them! A pity that the African-American leadership of this country hasn't heard much about the 'Rosa Parks' comment. I doubt that their reaction would be more charitable than mine, and they'd have less reason to be.
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Comment #4 posted by whig on December 23, 2005 at 03:37:48 PT
What would Thomas Paine say?
"These are the times that try men's souls."
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Comment #3 posted by runruff on December 23, 2005 at 01:14:55 PT:
I ment to say
 .....I'm beginning to sound Jewish [no offence].
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Comment #2 posted by runruff on December 23, 2005 at 01:12:08 PT:
Sometimes ya know........
I get tired. I get so discoureged. I type and type untill my fingers are blue in the face. I get hoarse from preaching at the computer screen. I think , how can we speed up awarness. What would Thomas Paine say right now? 
If I had the propaganda skills of Goebbels, the ideals of Thomas Jefferson, and the heart of Patrick Henry, the energy of a young Robin Williams. I don't have any of these skills. What I have is Gods gift of seeing the truth and 
a driven will to make things right. I am sure I have a clinical
condition that should be treated. My wife claims to be a widow to the cause. I hope I live long enough to see this evil thing die. Is that to much to ask? I'm beginning to Jewish.[no offence].
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Comment #1 posted by gloovins on December 23, 2005 at 00:27:55 PT
Just a last minute Christmas gift idea support hemp farming....!
Just type yr state in and find all hemp shops statewide for possible gifts...
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