Tuesday, October 13, 2009

SDNN - Eugene Davidovich: Proving my medical marijuana case - Issue 12

The CNOA finds itself, again uncharacteristically, in good company as the American College of Physicians (ACP) in a 2008 position paper titled “Supporting Research into the Therapeutic Role of Marijuana,” also states that “Marijuana has been smoked for its medicinal properties for centuries.”

The CNOA — a training association in California with about 7,000 peace officers, district attorneys and prosecutors and others of the type — is the largest provider of training for narcotics professionals. The overarching misguided scheme that all CNOA’s cannabis training material such as “Use of Marijuana as a Medicine” is that “there is no justification for using marijuana as a medicine.”

Unfortunately, the fact that medical cannabis clearly has a rich history is the only part of the issue where the CNOA and ACP agree. The sad part for San Diegans, especially patients facing prosecution like myself, is that District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and her officers subscribe to the hand-fed CNOA philosophy that ‘marijuana is not a medicine.’ As a result they are focused on overlooking state law in favor of enforcing federal and thwarting the will of San Diego voters who overwhelmingly passed Proposition 215 in 1996.

The ACP on the other hand is the nation’s largest medical specialty organization and the second largest physician group in the U.S., representing more than 124,000 members who firmly believe that cannabis has legitimate and proven medical application, even in its smoked form. The ACP insists and given their credentials, I believe them that “Preclinical, clinical, and anecdotal reports suggest numerous potential medical uses for marijuana. Additional research is needed to further clarify the therapeutic value of cannabinoids and determine optimal routes of administration.” They go on to say that “Unfortunately, research expansion has been hindered by a complicated federal approval process, limited availability of research-grade marijuana, and the debate over legalization.”

As the patients of physicians who recommend the use of marijuana to alleviate symptoms of conditions from which we suffer, who should we believe? Should we be listening to the staggering amount of medical research, our doctors, and trained scientists? Or should we believe the narcotics officers and District Attorneys like Bonnie Dumanis who mindlessly spout “Marijuana has no medical value because I read it in my CNOA handout.”

Davidovich takes part in a protest outside San Diego's Federal Courthouse last Thursday.

Davidovich takes part in a protest outside San Diego's Federal Courthouse last Thursday. (Photo courtesy of Eugene Davidovich)

Dumanis, a career politician and well-known opponent in practice but not in public, of medical marijuana has no formal medical training. After being elected in 2003, Dumanis was instrumental in forming the cross-jurisdictional Narcotics Task Force which since has been responsible for all the raids, arrests, and investigations of medical cannabis patients in San Diego. This enforcement task force, made up of narcotics officers trained by the CNOA and molded into believing that marijuana has no medicinal value, has since been executing one of their primary so called objectives set by Dumanis; ‘clarify’ Proposition 215 for San Diego through investigations and arrests.

This opportunistic ‘clarification’ has included continuous harassment and prosecutions of legitimate medical patients; biannual raids on facilities attempting to lawfully provide medical cannabis to qualified patients and months-long, resource-draining narcotics operations, some of which have been called Endless Summer and Green Rx. The arrests garnered through these operations have often very conveniently turned into convictions for the DA as she forces plea bargains upon scared, sick, often poor patients. Not to mention these actions force collectives to operate so deeply underground that any potential benefit they could bring to the community is swiftly stifled by this constant fear of incarceration and prosecution.

While Dumanis is out publicly proclaiming that there are now more than 60 storefronts operating under the guise of helping sick people; she has yet to see it done legally and claims that all the collectives and cooperatives are illegal, there are dozens of patients writing, calling, and pleading for a sit down and for her to join the newly formed medical marijuana task force and help provide clarification for the already confusing serpentine road map that makes up our medical marijuana laws.

Will there ever come a time when patient’s rights are respected and health issues are actually resolved by our health officials, rather than overzealous bias driven prosecutors and misguided narcotics officers?

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