California, Ventura

Medical marijuana by county.

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California, Ventura

Postby palmspringsbum » Sun Dec 31, 2006 11:27 am

The Ventura County Star wrote:
Medical marijuana out of reach in Ventura County

<span class=postbold>Officials stall on program while legal challenges resolved</span>

By Teresa Rochester,
December 17, 2006
The Ventura County Star

It's been 15 months since California's counties were given the OK to roll out a state-mandated medical marijuana identification card program, and so far two-dozen counties have done so.

Ventura County isn't among them.

Legal wrangling over the law prompted the county to put a halt to creating its own program.

"We decided to take a prudent and practical approach to this," Public Health Director Linda Henderson said. "We're waiting until all legal issues are resolved."

The county started working on a local identification card program in July, when California's Department of Health Services approved such programs. The cards are applied for and processed on the county level but issued by the state.

But work stopped when San Diego County sued the health services director and the state.

Two other counties, Merced and San Bernardino, joined the suit, which challenged the law requiring the identification cards as well as the voter-approved Compassionate Use Act of 1996 that allows people with a number of ailments to grow and use marijuana for medical purposes.

Earlier this month, a San Diego Superior Court judge shot down the counties' lawsuit. Judge William R. Nevitt Jr. ruled that counties would not be breaking federal laws by giving out state identification cards.

Medical marijuana users in California can still be prosecuted under federal drug laws.

On Tuesday, San Diego county officials decided to appeal Nevitt's ruling.

That means Ventura County's medical marijuana users will have a longer wait for the cards, which allow qualified patients and caregivers to possess, grow, transport and use medical marijuana.

Lisa Cordova Schwarz, a retired nurse and executive director of the Ventura County Alliance for Medical-Marijuana Patients, chastised the county for not setting up a program yet.

"That's just a cop-out," Schwarz said of the county's approach. "Every month, more counties are starting their ID programs."

Henderson said the county didn't want to start a program only to have it shut down.

San Luis Obispo County started its program Thursday.

The first applicant arrived at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, armed with a completed application downloaded from the county's Web site, his personal ID and his physician's recommendation letter. A digital photo was taken of the applicant and his information entered into a computer. The entire process took 15 minutes, said Kathleen O'Neill, San Luis Obispo County's Community Health Services manager.

Two more applicants came in on Friday. It took the county about six months to get the program off the ground.

O'Neill said county officials felt the implementation was a "clear state mandate," and, therefore, they proceeded despite the San Diego case.

"We're not taking a judgmental position of whether this is a good idea or not," O'Neill said. "We are just following the state law. We are also not judging the applicants who walk into Public Health. We are simply doing our job."

O'Neill had sent a letter to all of the police chiefs in the county explaining the program and the county's protocols.

In Kern County, 74 cards have been issued to patients and two cards have been issued to caregivers since the program started in January, County Health Officer and Director of Public Health Dr. Babatunde Jinadu said.

"It's going well with us," he said. "We have not had any problems with it."

Other counties that have implemented the program include Contra Costa, Imperial, Riverside, San Francisco and Santa Barbara.

Statewide, 7,830 cards have been issued. Cardholder information is entered into a statewide database so law enforcement can verify whether or not a card is legitimate.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Editorial: Sane policy at long last

Postby palmspringsbum » Sun Mar 22, 2009 11:34 am

The Ventura County Starr wrote:Editorial: Sane policy at long last

<span class="postbigbold">Relief for medicinal-pot users</span>

The Ventura County Starr
Sunday, March 22, 2009

Finally, there is sanity in federal policy regarding states that have legalized medicinal marijuana, including California.

Proposition 215 — allowing the use of marijuana for medical purposes, if recommended by a physician — passed overwhelmingly in California 13 years ago. Despite that, the federal government continued to prosecute medicinal-marijuana users and dispensary groups. It has been able to do so because federal law outlawing marijuana cultivation and use supersedes state law. The conflicting laws have created a legal Catch-22 that defies logic.

Until now.

Wednesday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the U.S. Justice Department will not prosecute medicinal-marijuana dispensaries that follow the laws of the state in which they operate. Although Barack Obama indicated during his campaign that he would change the old policy, after his inauguration, the Drug Enforcement Agency was still raiding medical-marijuana dispensaries in states where they were legal. Now, we presume the DEA has gotten the memo.

We hope to hear no more stories of sick people with cancer, eating disorders, glaucoma, AIDS and other illnesses being prosecuted for using marijuana recommended by their physicians.

As a result of 1970s drug-war policies, marijuana was listed as a schedule 1 drug, meaning it was deemed to have no medical use. That, despite the fact that cocaine is listed as a schedule 2 drug, available by prescription. The schedule 1 designation for marijuana remained even after a yearlong study in 1999 by the Institute of Medicine at the National Academy of Science concluded marijuana’s effectiveness in treating certain ailments, including nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy in cancer patients.

Last year, the American College of Physicians — a group of 124,000 doctors of internal medicine — called on the federal government to ease its ban on medical marijuana.

State officials tried to finesse the state-federal law conflict in last year’s “Guidelines for the Security and Non-Diversion of Marijuana Grown for Medical Use.” In the 11-page document, California Attorney General Jerry Brown wrote: Neither Proposition 215 nor the state’s 2004 Medical Marijuana Program conflict with the federal Controlled Substances Act because “in adopting these laws, California did not ‘legalize’ medical marijuana, but instead exercised the state’s reserved powers to not punish certain marijuana offenses under state law when a physician has recommended its use to treat a serious medical condition.”

Not even the U.S. Supreme Court could speak straight in its 6-3 vote in 2005 that state medical marijuana laws do not protect people from federal prosecution. Justice John Paul Stevens wrote that the court based its decision solely on the technical interstate commerce aspect of the case and not the medical-necessity defense. The court punted, saying the issue belongs before Congress.

So, after 13 years of this ongoing dilemma, spanning the Clinton and Bush administrations, someone at the federal level at last says something that doesn’t need legal gymnastics to grasp:

Sick people in states that have legalized medicinal marijuana need not fear being prosecuted or jailed for seeking treatment recommended by their doctors.

Now that Attorney General Holder has articulated this welcome policy, we hope transplant hospital administrators get the message and don’t kick any more patients off their transplant lists just because they used medical marijuana.

Ridiculous laws can have ridiculous and tragic results.

<small>© 2009 Ventura County Star</small>

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