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Sacramento County To Consider Medical Marijuana ID Cards

Rocky Balboa

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It's a fight that's been settled in 40 of California's 58 counties, but Sacramento County isn't one of them.

And Tuesday, when the Board of Supervisors takes up the issue of medical marijuana ID cards, the reason for that will become clear. The supervisors are divided on a central question:

Should Sacramento County follow the will of the people of California, which approved using marijuana for medicinal purposes in a statewide ballot? Or should the county yield to the federal government, which hasn't authorized its use?

"It is well beyond the time when Sacramento County should comply with state law," Supervisor Roger Dickinson wrote in a letter to his colleagues.

Responded Supervisor Roberta MacGlashan: "Possession and use of marijuana is still a federal crime. As long as it's a federal crime, I just can't do anything that facilitates its use."

She also questioned the use of the phrase "medical marijuana."

"I don't think there is a thing - medical marijuana. There is just marijuana," MacGlashan said. "It's still a federal crime to process, use or sell it."

Lanette Davies sees things differently.

She became a medical marijuana activist two years ago, after Stanford University doctors recommended her daughter try cannabis products to ease her pain.

Davies said her daughter, Brittany, a 17-year-old Sacramento area high school student, suffers from a rare bone disease.

"By the time she was 15 she actually asked me if she could die," Davies said.

Davies said patients like her daughter, who uses cannabis creams and food products, are looking to ease pain, not get high.

"These are sick people who are looking for comfort from their pain," said Davies, who started the group Crusaders 4 Patients Rights. "They aren't looking for a joint, they are looking for relief."

Similar accounts helped lead to the passage of Proposition 215 in 1996 - - setting California in conflict with the federal government.

The board will take the issue up at 3 p.m. Tuesday in its chambers at 700 H St. - and the outcome is unclear.

Yolo, El Dorado and Placer counties already have implemented medical marijuana ID programs.

Dickinson said issuing the cards "does not imply approval of the nonmedical use of marijuana."

Advocates say the program helps law enforcement by identifying those with a legitimate need for a pot prescription.

"We hope that the county will do the right thing and move forward," said Aaron Smith, the California organizer for the Marijuana Policy Project.

"We've seen the program be successful. It is something that is intended ( for law enforcement )."

Those who don't favor the program, however, include Sheriff John McGinness.

"This conduct is still prohibited by federal law," said McGinness.

He said those who want to change the law should take the fight to the federal level because "federal law trumps state law."

The county's public health officer, Dr. Glennah Trochet, has advised against the program in previous years and more recently said she doesn't have any knowledge of medicinal effects of marijuana.

Source: Sacramento Bee
Author: Ed Fletcher
Copyright: 2008 The Sacramento Bee
Website: Northern California local news and information from The Sacramento Bee - sacbee.com
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