Monday, June 22, 2009
Thursday, June 18, 2009
by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director
Massachusetts Democrat Barney Frank, along with over a dozen cosponsors, reintroduced legislation in Congress to strengthen legal protections for state-authorized medical marijuana patients.
The bill, entitled the Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act of 2009, seeks to amend the discrepancy between federal law and the laws of over a dozen states that have enacted regulations governing the therapeutic use of cannabis.
Thirteen states – Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington – have enacted laws prohibiting medical marijuana patients from state prosecution.
Passage of the the Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act would ensure that medical cannabis patients or providers who are compliant with state law, such as Charles Lynch (who was sentenced in federal court), would no longer have to fear arrest or prosecution from federal law enforcement agencies.
Previous versions of the Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act were introduced in both the 108th and 109th Congress, but failed to receive a public hearing or a committee vote.
While campaigning for the presidency, Barack Obama promised not to use Justice Department resources “to try and circumvent state (medical marijuana) laws” — a pledge that has been repeated in recent months by US Attorney General Eric Holder.
Nevertheless, agents from the US Drug Enforcement Administration have continued to target
medical marijuana providers in states that allow for the drug’s use, and federal prosecutors have continued to bring federal anti-drug charges against defendants who were acting in accordance with their state’s cannabis laws.
It is time that we allowed our unique federalist system to work the way it was intended. Patients and their state representatives should have the authority to enact laws permitting the medical use of cannabis — free from federal interference.
Please write your members of Congress today and tell them to stop targeting and prosecuting medical marijuana patients and providers.
CLICK HERE TO TAKE ACTION TODAY
Congressman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) introduced legislation today to remove criminal penalties for marijuana possession at the federal level. The Personal Use of Marijuana by Responsible Adults Act of 2009 would remove penalties for possession of up to 3.5 ounces of marijuana and the not-for-profit transfer of 1 ounce.
Please take action today to support this important legislation.
Congressman Frank’s legislation seeks to bring federal law in line with reality. 99% of all marijuana arrests occur at the state and local level. In practice, federal laws prohibiting marijuana possession act as a deterrent to states that may want a more sensible policy. Congressman Frank’s bill would remove that deterrent and push U.S. marijuana policy in the right direction.
The bill’s introduction comes amidst unprecedented momentum for reform, but it will still face significant opposition in Congress — so please visit mpp.org/federal-action and take action today!
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Friday, June 12, 2009
Congress Introduces HR 2835, The Medical Marijuana Patient Protection ActBill would reschedule marijuana for medical use, end federal interference in state laws
Washington, D.C. -- In another effort to change federal policy on medical marijuana, Congressional Representative Barney Frank (D-MA) introduced the "Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act," HR 2835, late yesterday. The bill, which was co-sponsored by 13 bipartisan Members of Congress at the time of introduction, would change federal policy on medical marijuana in a number of ways. Specifically, the Act would change marijuana from a Schedule I drug, classified as having no medical value, to a Schedule II drug, which would recognize marijuana's medical efficacy and create a regulatory framework for the FDA to begin a drug approval process for marijuana. The act would also prevent interference by the federal government in any local or state run medical marijuana program.
Although similar versions of the Act have been introduced in previous Congressional terms, the Obama Administration's willingness to change federal policy on medical marijuana creates a new political context and may facilitate passage of this important legislation. "We are encouraged by the federal government's willingness to address this issue and to bring about a more sensible and humane policy on medical marijuana," said Caren Woodson, Government Affairs Director with Americans for Safe Access (ASA), a nationwide advocacy group working with the Obama Administration, Representative Frank and other Members of Congress to change federal policy. "It's time to recognize marijuana's medical efficacy, and to develop a comprehensive plan that will provide access to medical marijuana and protection for the hundreds of thousands of sick Americans that benefit from its use."
In addition to rescheduling marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), HR 2835 would provide protection from the CSA and the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) for qualified patients and caregivers in states that have legalized the use of medical marijuana. Specifically, the act prevents the CSA and FDCA from prohibiting or restricting: (1) a physician from prescribing or recommending marijuana for medical use, (2) an individual from obtaining, possessing, transporting within their state, manufacturing, or using marijuana in accordance with their state law, (3) an individual authorized under State law from obtaining, possessing, transporting within their state, or manufacturing marijuana on behalf of an authorized patient, or (4) an entity authorized under local or State law to distribute medical marijuana to authorized patients from obtaining, possessing, or distributing marijuana to such authorized patients.
The Obama Administration has made repeated statements that it intends to end federal enforcement against medical marijuana, but has yet to provide a detailed plan of implementation. A lack of clarity on this policy change has prompted Congress to take action. In addition to the introduction of Frank's bill yesterday, Representative Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) introduced language Tuesday within the Commerce, Justice and Science Departments (CJS) Appropriations bill seeking clarification on the Administration's policy. "It's imperative that the federal government respect states' rights and stay out of the way of patients with debilitating diseases such as cancer who are using medical marijuana in accordance with state law to alleviate their pain," said Hinchey in a press release issued Tuesday.
At the time of release the Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act, HR 2835, was not yet published by the Government Printing Office (GPO), but contains identical language of Rep. Frank's bill introduced last year (HR 5842):http://safeaccessnow.org/downloads/HR5842.pdf
HR 2835 can be reviewed at the following site once it's published: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c111:H.R.2835:
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
HOUSE PANEL APPROVES PROVISION REQ. CLARIFICATION FROM PRESIDENT OBAMA ADMINISTRATION ON MEDICAL MARIJUANA POLICY
WASHINGTON, June 9 -- Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y. (22nd CD), issued the following news release:
With some uncertainty surrounding the Obama administration's policy on the use of medical marijuana in states that have legalized the drug for that purpose, the House Appropriations Committee today approved a provision authored by Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) that calls on the U.S. Department of Justice to report to Congress in writing on the administration's position within 60 days of the bill's enactment. The Hinchey provision was included in the report accompanying the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies appropriations bill for fiscal year 2010. The full House is expected to consider the bill within the next several weeks.
"I'm very pleased that the House Appropriations Committee today approved a simple, straightforward provision that will provide clarity as to what the Obama administration's precise policy is on medical marijuana," Hinchey said. "I've been greatly encouraged by what President Obama and Attorney General Holder's public statements in support of state's determining their own medical marijuana, but remain concerned about the matter since the federal government has still continued raids in states that permit the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. This provision will provide Congress with the transparency we need to determine whether any further legislative action is needed. It's imperative that the federal government respect states' rights and stay out of the way of patients with debilitating diseases such as cancer who are using medical marijuana in accordance with state law to alleviate their pain."
During the presidential campaign last year, then U.S. Senator-Barack Obama said that he would not use Justice Department resources to raid and prosecute medical marijuana users and prescribers in states where such use is permitted. Earlier this year, Attorney General Eric Holder publicly stated that the Department of Justice would follow through on President Obama's position during the campaign and only pursue federal cases against individuals who violate both state and federal marijuana laws. However, one week after the attorney general's statement on the topic, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) conducted a raid on a medical marijuana clinic in San Francisco, raising questions about the implementation of the attorney general's stated policy. The DEA has not fully explained the reason for a raid in a state that allows the use of medical marijuana.
Thirteen states have adopted laws that allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes. Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington all have laws allowing the use of marijuana to relieve the intense pain and nausea that accompany some debilitating diseases such as cancer, AIDS, and multiple sclerosis. The Bush administration made it nearly impossible for those 13 states to fully implement their medical marijuana laws. The DEA conducted numerous raids and even prosecuted patients who were using marijuana in accordance with state laws to relieve pain, nausea, and other symptoms caused by a variety of illnesses.
Hinchey has offered a measure for several years to protect states' rights and patients by prohibiting the Justice Department from using any funds to prosecute individuals who use medical marijuana in compliance with state law. The measure did not have the support of the full House. The congressman does not plan to offer that measure in light of the Obama administration's previous statement in support of state medical marijuana laws.For more information please contact: Sarabjit Jagirdar, Email:- firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sunday, June 7, 2009
The war on drugs has caused too much collateral damage: Even the ill face stigmatization by using an alternative to harsh pharmaceuticals.
By Marie Myung-Ok Lee
June 7, 2009
I'm on the phone getting a recipe for hashish butter. Not from my dealer but from Lester Grinspoon, a physician and emeritus professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. And not for a party but for my 9-year-old son, who has autism, anxiety and digestive problems, all of which are helped by the analgesic and psychoactive properties of marijuana. I wouldn't be giving it to my child if I didn't think it was safe.
I came to marijuana while searching for a safer alternative to the powerful antipsychotic drugs, such as Risperdal, that are typically prescribed for children with autism and other behavioral disorders. There have been few studies on the long-term effects of these drugs on a growing child's brain, and in particular autism, a disorder whose biochemical mechanisms are poorly understood. But there is much documentation of the risks, which has caused the Food and Drug Administration to require the highest-level "black box" warnings of possible side effects that include permanent Parkinson's disease-like tremors, metabolic disorders and death. A panel of federal drug experts in 2008 urged physicians to use caution when prescribing these medicines to children, as they are the most susceptible to side effects.
We live in Rhode Island, one of more than a dozen states -- including California -- with medical marijuana laws. That makes giving our son cannabis for a medical condition legal. But we are limited in its use. We cannot take it on a plane on a visit to his grandmother in Minnesota.
Even though we are not breaking the law, I still wonder what my neighbors would think if they knew we were giving our son what most people only think of as an illegal "recreational" drug. Marijuana has always carried that illicit tang of danger -- "reefer madness" and foreign drug cartels. But in 1988, Drug Enforcement Administration Judge Francis L. Young, after two years of hearings, deemed marijuana "one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man. ... In strict medical terms, marijuana is far safer than many foods we commonly consume."
Beyond helping people like my son, the reasons to legalize cannabis on a federal level are manifold. Anecdotal evidence from patients already attests to its pain-relieving properties, and the benefits in quelling chemotherapy-induced nausea and wasting syndrome are well documented. Future studies may find even more important medical uses.
Including marijuana in the war on drugs has only proved foolhardy -- and costly. By keeping marijuana illegal and prices high, illicit drug money from the U.S. sustains the murderous narco-traffickers in Mexico and elsewhere. In fact, after seeing how proximity to marijuana growers affected the small Mexican village of Alamos, where my husband spent much of his childhood, I was adamant about never entering into that economy of violence.
Because Rhode Island has no California-like medical marijuana dispensaries, the patient must apply for a medical marijuana license and then find a way to procure the cannabis. We floundered on our own until we finally connected with a local horticultural school graduate who agreed to provide our son's organic marijuana. But given the seedy underbelly of the illegal drug trade, combined with the current economic collapse, even our grower has to be mindful of not exposing himself to robbery.
Legalizing marijuana not only removes the incentives for this underground economy, it would allow for regulation and taxation of the product, just like cigarettes and alcohol. The potential for abuse is there, as it is with any substance, but toxicology studies have not even been able to establish a lethal dose at typical-use levels. In fact, in 1988, Young of the DEA further stated that "it is estimated that ... a smoker would theoretically have to consume ... nearly 1,500 pounds of marijuana within about 15 minutes to induce a lethal response." Nor is it physically addicting, unlike your daily Starbucks, as anyone who has suffered from a caffeine withdrawal headache can attest.
Although it has been demonized for years, marijuana hasn't been illegal in the U.S. for that long. The cannabis plant became criminalized on a federal level in 1937, largely because of the efforts of one man, Harry Anslinger, commissioner of the then newly formed Bureau of Narcotics, largely through sensationalistic stories of murder and mayhem conducted supposedly under the influence of cannabis. Cannabis was still listed in the U.S. Pharmacopeia, or USP, until 1941 as a household drug useful for treating headaches, depression, menstrual cramps and toothaches, and drug companies worked to develop a stronger strain.
In 1938, a skeptical Fiorello LaGuardia, mayor of New York, appointed a committee to conduct the first in-depth study of marijuana's actual effects. It found that, despite the government's fervent claims, marijuana did not cause insanity or act as a gateway drug. It also found no scientific reason for its criminalization. In 1972, President Nixon's Shafer Commission similarly concluded that cannabis should be re-legalized.
Both recommendations were ignored, and since then billions of dollars have been spent enforcing the ban. Public policy analyst Jon Gettman, author of the 2007 report, "Lost Revenues and Other Costs of Marijuana Laws," estimated marijuana-related annual costs of law enforcement at $10.7 billion.
I was heartened to hear California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's recent call for the U.S. to at least look at other nations' experiences with legalizing marijuana -- and to open a debate. And given the real security threats the nation faces, U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr.'s announcement that the federal government would no longer conduct raids on legal medicinal marijuana dispensaries was a prudent move. Decriminalizing marijuana is the logical next step.
Marie Myung-Ok Lee teaches at Brown University and is working on a novel about medical malpractice.
Friday, June 5, 2009
He goes on to say:
"Once an application is submitted for an MMIC, State guidelines require the County to verify information within 30 days and approve or deny the application. Persons interested in applying for a medical marijuana card will be able to obtain information from our website on approximately June 26, 2009. The main url address for the Health and Human Services Agency is www.sdcounty.ca.gov/hhsa/ . On approximately June 26, 2009 you will be able to search the website for Medical Marijuana Identification Card information. In the interim you may obtain information from the State of California Department of Public Health website at www.cdph.ca.gov ."
This is great news tremendous progress for patients in San Diego County.
How many more years need to pass and how many more lives need to be destroyed until there is change in San Diego?
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Undercover operation nets medical marijuana patients
Posted By hoa.quach On June 3, 2009 @ 4:26 pm
After a four-year stint in the U.S. Navy, Eugene Davidovich  started to feel anxious, restless, and suffered migraine headaches.
In 2002, at the end of the third class petty officer’s service — which garnered him 10 medals — Davidovich’s doctor prescribed him various drugs and anti-depressants.
Though the drugs treated his initial symptoms, they caused him to experience worse side effects.
Finally, the hesitant patient accepted a prescription for medical marijuana.
Now, years later, after his arrest in a sting operation conducted by the San Diego Police Department, Davidovich is navigating a complicated maze of murky medical marijuana laws that have plagued the state and San Diego County for years.
“[State medical marijuana laws] are complex,” said Jim Lange, director of San Diego State University’s Drug and Alcohol program. “There certainly is vagueness to the law, probably because it is difficult to legislate medical decisions, and [state laws are] in conflict with federal law.”
Operation Endless Summer
On Nov. 13, 2008, Eugene Davidovich received a call from a man who identified himself as “Jamie Conlan.”
That’s when Davidovich’s ordeal began.
According to Davidovich, Conlan said he found Davidovich’s contact information on the Web site Cal NORML , a medical marijuana advocacy site. Conlan was looking to join a collective (also referred to as a collaborative) - a group of medical marijuana patients, who pool their resources to grow and distribute pot. After a well-publicized raid on San Diego medical marijuana dispensaries in 2006, patients had few places to safely obtain the drug.
Collectives offered an alternative.
Read the History of medical marijuana in the U.S. 
Davidovich said he met Conlan that night, asked to see Conlan’s doctor’s recommendation, which would allow him to use medical marijuana. The police video even shows Davidovich calling Conlan to come out of the house to ensure it was the same person who joined the collective over the phone. According to court documents, Davidovich sold Conlan 6.92 grams of “high-grade” marijuana for $120.
Police video of Davidovich
More than two months later, in February, Davidovich was charged with four counts of possession, transportation and sale of marijuana — netted in the SDPD’s sting, dubbed Operation Endless Summer.
The operation began when a report by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service detailed drug sales in military housing, said deputy district attorney of the narcotics division Chris Lindberg.
The three-month long operation charged 37 of the 52 suspects it netted with criminal offenses, and rounded up nearly $19,000 in cash, guns, narcotics, methamphetamine and marijuana.
Later, a story  in The San Diego Union-Tribune noted the operation had few ties to the military, despite the district attorney office’s claim that military connections played a major role in the sting. One cancer survivor also implicated in the sting, told the U-T she knows no one in the military.
Conlan, an undercover agent who lied about symptoms and used a fake I.D. to obtain a doctor’s recommendation for medical marijuana, claimed in court documents the marijuana he bought was sold by Davidovich for-profit, not as a part of the collective.
Davidovich thought he was within the scope of the law, because he asked to see Conlan’s doctor’s recommendation before he sold him the pot. Advocates for medical marijuana are claiming entrapment, since the undercover agent lied to get the recommendation, but Lindberg said, “Legally, it doesn’t qualify for entrapment. Entrapment is an inducement that will get anyone to do the crime. The police officer was buying it for the going rate. Medical marijuana recommendations are very easy to obtain. There are certain doctors in town who basically if you walk through the door will give it to you for $150.”
The deputy district attorney said it was not illegal for the agent to falsely obtain the recommendation.
Activists have also decried the sting, saying it targeted patients.
“The scarce resources we have in this city would be much better spent on working with medical cannabis patients to establish a sanctioned source of medication rather than investigate, prosecute, and damage people’s lives,” Davidovich said.
Lindberg said patients were not targeted, and noted district attorney Bonnie Dumanis’ vocal support for safe access to medical marijuana for qualified patients. Lindberg said the people netted in Operation Endless Summer broke the law - plain and simple. Medical marijuana patients or their caregivers may jointly grow and cultivate cannabis - as they do in collectives - but all members must be involved throughout the process; the sale of marijuana after the fact is illegal, Lindberg said.
“They weren’t being prosecuted because they are medical marijuana patients - people are being prosecuted for engaging in illegal drug sales,” he said. “There is no provision in medical marijuana law to sell drugs for profit or otherwise. These people were selling drugs to an undercover officer who, basically, the sole contact they had with them was calling them up on the phone; the people would come over to his house, and exchange marijuana for cash.”
The terms collective, cooperative, and dispensary are thrown around and seen as interchangeable by the public at large and much of the medical marijuana community. They all provide a means for patients to safely acquire marijuana.
Statutory cooperative: “Must file articles of incorporation with the state and conduct its business for the mutual benefit of its members… and act as nonprofit corporate entities.”
Collective: “Should be an organization [not an incorporated business] that merely facilitates the collaborative efforts of patient and caregiver members including the allocation of costs and revenues.”
Dispensary: A storefront business that sells marijuana to qualified patients. These are not recognized by the attorney general guidelines and are considered illegal by the District Attorney’s office.
Davidovich, however, says he did not sell the drug for profit.
“There was absolutely no profit built into the reimbursement,” said Davidovich, who says the cost of rent for the collective’s facility, the electricity bill and equipments, and the cost of nutrients, soil, water, packaging and delivery, not to mention his time, outweigh the dollar amount sales bring in. “In fact often it was way below cost and I had to subsidize the loss from my paycheck at my regular job to pay for rent of the facility, or the electric bill, as the reimbursement collected from the members was not enough to cover the costs. I did not see or collect any profit from any delivery to any of the collective members.”
Davidovich would not say what the collective’s monthly costs amount to, or the monthly dollar amount in reimbursement from sales. It will be detailed in a preliminary hearing on Monday, he said.
What if Davidovich’s claim is true; that he didn’t sell marijuana for profit? Lindberg said, in no uncertain terms, that’s unlikely: “Of course they are selling for profit. Why else are they engaging in the activity any way?”
‘I am not a dangerous drug dealer’
Davidovich’s troubles didn’t end with Operation Endless Summer. Shortly after he was arrested, the El Cajon resident - who said medical marijuana allowed him to resume a normal life, and pursue his master’s degree in business administration - separated from his wife and son, and left his job as a software specialist so he could focus on winning his case.
Davidovich believes he was singled out for being a veteran, and that the arrest has cast a light on his struggle with anxiety, and tarnished his image among other members of the military.
He blames the county’s obscure medical marijuana laws for his legal woes - and his attorney, Michael McCabe, plans to argue Davidovich’s case.
McCabe, a medical marijuana activist best known for his victory in People v. Konow, said local authorities chose to “create” a crime. In the case that made him well known, the attorney defended Carolyn Konow, who was prosecuted for operating a dispensary, California Alternative Medicinal Center, which had been operating for two years.
The case against Konow, which was taken to the state Supreme Court, was dismissed by Judge William Mudd, because Proposition 215  - the state’s Compassionate Use Act of 1996 - was not clear, leaving patients vulnerable. Mudd also said Konow’s clinic followed all guidelines for a dispensary. McCabe sees parallels between Konow and Davidovich’s cases - but, he said, authorities went one step further in Davidovich’s case.
“What [authorities] did wrong in this particular case was singling out individuals who were medical marijuana advocates and targeting them for prosecution originally under the guise of an operation to clean up drug dealing to servicemen, which it wasn’t at all,” McCabe said. “They didn’t simply investigate; they created a crime where none really existed by going to the lengths of supplying false identification to the undercover agent and having him go to a medical marijuana physician, a physician who was known for his cooperation and his participation in the medical marijuana [community].”
Davidovich said he’s looking forward to his day in court - if not for his own benefit, for the safety of other medical marijuana patients.
“I am not a dangerous drug dealer, I did not possess any illegal drugs and I was operating the collective under what I truly believed was the guidance of California state law,” Davidovich said.
” … The reason I am speaking out is to make as many patients aware of the current state of fear in the city as possible, so that this does not happen to any other collective or coop that is abiding by state law, and so that this bias-driven selective prosecution can end.
“I love this country, respect our system of laws. I was not trying to do anything illegal here or profit from it, in any way.”
‘It’s not like San Diego County is starting from scratch’
There’s no indicator that Davidovich’s case will be the last. Not until the state’s laws and county’s enforcement on medical marijuana use become more clear, and until patients are educated about the do’s and don’ts.
Aged propositions - created and passed by voters - are vague, primarily because they set the spirit of the law, and the legislature is required to fill in specific guidelines.
In 2003, the state Senate approved SB 420 , a bill which clarified parameters of medical marijuana use in the state. The bill requires counties to create local programs to issue medical identification cards and set safeguards for patients.
But, different local laws trump state law, and have led to a number of court cases with varied results. In 2008, the attorney general set boundaries  for law enforcement, outlining when a patient should be arrested or have his or her marijuana confiscated.
Procuring the drug is tricky. The U.S. attorney general’s guidelines  allow collectives to cultivate marijuana for medical purposes, and allows for marijuana transactions among collective members - as long as no individual profits from the transaction. But, in the guidelines, the attorney general notes, “the earnings and savings of the business must be used for the general welfare of its members or equitably distributed to members in the form of cash, property, credits, or services.”
Deputy district attorney Lindberg said laws do not allow the sale of marijuana - period. Questions remain: When are patients considered “members” of a collective? Once a collective is established, are patients still able to join? What is the difference between buying marijuana once it’s grown and paying into a collective before it’s grown? Those questions remain unanswered by state law, advocates said, and it’s affecting patients who seek safe access to the drug.
Despite the fact state law is difficult to navigate, state assemblymember Lori Saldaña said it’s the local government’s responsibility  to work with constituents. The county should look to others counties, which have clear medical marijuana laws, to help establish guidelines.
” … It’s not like [San Diego County is] starting from scratch,” Saldaña said. “It’s the only county that hasn’t developed any regulations. The concerns I’ve heard expressed, informally, are around properly regulating drugs.”
Saldaña also said state legislators will not interfere with the county’s guidelines, and she hopes local officials will implement them as soon as possible.
“[Legal costs and the] cost of delaying is substantial,” Saldaña said. “It’s up to the county to comply with the state law - state legislators will not interfere. But, they need to look at delivery for the chronically incapacitated and ask, ‘How do they get access to medical marijuana?’”
McCabe agrees with Saldaña, and said if patients can’t safely grow and purchase medical marijuana, they will have to seek alternative outlets - namely, the black market, which, the attorney said, increases the risk of violence and prosecution. Until the government steps in advocates need to do a better job of educating the public McCabe said.
“The movement has to attract the public support and to educate the public just what it’s about. The current system fosters crime by making qualified patients and caregivers go to illicit sources rather than promoting law-abidingness,” McCabe said.
Moving forward at a local level
Mendocino County medical cannabis card (Flickr photo courtesy of Nirmal Thacker)
San Diego County, along with San Bernardino County, has fought state law regarding medical marijuana. San Diego patients still don’t have medical ID cards, due to a lawsuit launched by the County Board of Supervisors in 2006.
The board claimed federal law, which prohibits the use of marijuana, supersedes state law. Determined to take the case to federal court, the county spent $5,000 on the case, which was rejected by the Supreme Court for a hearing on May 18. That was the most recent defeat; the San Diego Superior Court rejected the case in 2006, and the state Supreme Court declined to review it in October 2008.
Board chair Dianne Jacob said in a January statement, despite the appearance that the board is anti-medical marijuana, the board’s attempt simply aimed to reconcile state and federal law. The board voted 4-1 in closed session to pursue the case at the federal level.
“It doesn’t matter what side of the debate you’re on - and I’ve heard compelling arguments from both sides - the prudent step is to resolve the existing conflict between state and federal law,”
Jacobs said in January. “The feds view medical marijuana as illegal. Agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration have raided homes and dispensaries in the last year. Were we to proceed with implementing the state’s plan, we would be facilitating the arrest of our own residents. We need to end the confusion with a definitive ruling that protects all parties.”
Some confusion was laid to rest when attorney general Eric Holder announced the federal government will allow state laws to take precedence in terms of medical marijuana laws. McCabe is hopeful that the federal government’s statements will change the local climate.
“The Obama Administration can’t limit the law under the books but can direct the state attorneys what conduct they are to prosecute and what conduct they are not to prosecute,” McCabe said.
Also at a local level, two city councilmembers - Donna Frye and Todd Gloria - are hoping to help clarify laws.
Mark Sauer  of Frye’s office and Travis Knowles  of Gloria’s office are collaborating to clarify San Diego’s guidelines for distributing medical marijuana to qualified patients. The councilmembers hope to re-establish a task force to help cooperatives and collectives understand Proposition 215’s guidelines.
“[Frye] and I have heard from several constituents who have run afoul of the law for possessing/distributing marijuana even though they had legitimate doctor’s letters and appeared to be acting in good faith,” Sauer said. “We believe patients, and those running cooperatives allowed to distribute medical marijuana under Proposition 215 and the state attorney general’s August 2008 guidelines should be able to know what is legally required of them.”
The county board of supervisors will discuss how to issue medical ID cards on June 16, and implement the program July 1.
As for Davidovich, he hopes his case closes during the preliminary hearing on Monday. Some say, though, Davidovich’s attorney McCabe may find himself taking this case to the Supreme Court. But, McCabe is “cautiously optimistic” about the defendant’s chance at winning at the local level.
“I’m hopeful the climate will change and the will of people will be respected,” McCabe said. “That is, after all, what our government is supposed to be all about.”
Editor’s note: Chair of the County Board of Supervisors Dianne Jacob opted to re-release a statement rather than participate in an interview. An interview request was also made for San Diego Police Chief William Lansdowne; however, his office thought the interview with deputy district attorney Chris Lindberg would be sufficient. Peter Hughes of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the Medical Marijuana Evaluation Center have not yet responded to requests for interviews.
Read more: http://www.sdnn.com/?s=marijuana 
URL to article: http://www.sdnn.com/sandiego/2009-06-03/news/politics-city-county-government/operation-endless-summer-nets-medical-marijuana-patients
URLs in this post:
 Image: http://static.sdnn.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/med-mj-sign.jpg
 Eugene Davidovich: http://www.eugenedavidovich.com
 Cal NORML: http://www.canorml.org/
 History of medical marijuana in the U.S. : http://www.sdnn.com/sandiego/2009-06-03/news/politics-city-county-government/history-of-medical-marijuana-in-the-us
 story: http://www3.signonsandiego.com/stories/2009/feb/23/1m23sting221239-many-drug-sting-lack-military-ties/
 Youtube page.: http://www.youtube.com/user/SanDiegoNewsNetwork
 Image: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jpqn_C9gPKU
 attorney general’s: http://static.sdnn.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/medicalmarijuanaguidelines2008calag.pdf
 define the differences: http://sdnn.com/attorney-generals-guidelines-for-the-security-and-non-diversion-of-marijuana-grown-for-medical-use
 Image: http://static.sdnn.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/eugene3.jpg
 Proposition 215: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_Proposition_215_(1996)
 Image: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xt1YT9hB2Iw
 SB 420: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SB420
 Image: http://static.sdnn.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/mad-mj.jpg
 local government’s responsibility: http://medicalmarijuanasd.wordpress.com/2009/05/30/councilwoman-frye-wants-medical-pot-task-force-back/
 Image: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U79w5zMXKDM
 Image: http://static.sdnn.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/medical-marijuana-card.jpg
 lawsuit: http://www.sdnn.com/sandiego/2009-05-18/news/us-supreme-court-squashes-san-diego-challenge-to-medical-marijuana-laws
 Image: http://static.sdnn.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/562549310_c8ed42f1d6.jpg
 Mark Sauer: http://www.sandiego.gov/citycouncil/cd6/staff/sauer.shtml
 Travis Knowles: http://www.sandiego.gov/citycouncil/cd3/staff/
 Image: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mlkXdU8oDdw
 Medical marijuana ID cards no longer a pipe dream?: http://www.sdnn.com/sandiego/2009-06-02/news/politics-city-county-government/medical-marijuana-id-cards-no-longer-a-pipe-dream
 Legalize marijuana to save California? Maybe…: http://www.sdnn.com/sandiego/2009-05-28/news/politics-city-county-government/legalize-marijuana-to-save-california-maybe
 Medical marijuana store opens in Pacific Beach: http://www.sdnn.com/sandiego/2009-05-15/news/environment/medical-marijuana-store-opens-in-pb
 http://www.sdnn.com/?s=marijuana: http://www.sdnn.com/?s=marijuana