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Sacramento Supervisors Reject State's Medical Marijuana ID Program

Herb Fellow

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Turning away pleas from an elderly glaucoma patient, a local man with AIDS and a teen with a rare bone illness, Sacramento County supervisors rejected a call to implement a program allowing medical marijuana patients to obtain a state-issued identification card.

Tuesday's 3-2 vote was instead in step with the position of Sacramento County's law enforcement officials that implementing the program would invite residents to violate federal law.

While state law allows the use of marijuana for legitimate medicinal purposes, federal law does not.

Of the state's 58 counties, Sacramento County is among 18 that haven't adopted the state program. Advocates say pot ID cards help law enforcement by identifying those with a legitimate need for medicinal marijuana.

Neoma Denny, 75, called medical marijuana her "lifeline." "I can't take medicine for nausea. I can't take medicine for pain," said Denny, who said she suffers from glaucoma and cirrhosis of the liver. "If I did not use medical marijuana, I would not be here. This is my lifeline."

Thomas Coy, a Sacramento man who uses marijuana to ease symptoms of AIDS, said he wanted the board to start the program "to let law enforcement know it's really medicine for me."

Brittany Davies, 17, who suffers from a rare bone disease, said she plans to drive to San Francisco for the weekend to look at prom dresses, but she's afraid to take with her the cannabis cream she uses to ease her pain. "I don't want to be pulled over and have to go to jail or something," Davies said.

The three were among 30 medical marijuana supporters who entreated the supervisors to support the program.

Supervisors Roger Dickinson and Jimmie Yee voted in favor of implementing the program. Supervisors Roberta MacGlashan, Susan Peters and Don Nottoli voted against it.

Sheriff John McGinness and District Attorney Jan Scully argued against the program. McGinness said that since sheriff's deputies aren't jailing people for having a small amount of pot, the program wouldn't be of much help. He added that issuing cards would encourage pot use. "We have a conflict," he said. "We are talking about a behavior that is illegal by federal law."

Jan Scully said marijuana cultivation and use sets people up for crime — from home invasion robberies to murders. She also made light of what she characterized as pot prescriptions for back pain, menstrual cramps, diarrhea, flatulence and insomnia.

"The courts are going to have to sort this out," MacGlashan said. "We can't sort it out on this level."

Dickinson said he was somewhat embarrassed that the county had turned its back on state law. "This is nothing more than an identification card," he said. "Federal law is unaffected by this. We aren't making any judgments (about marijuana use) by deciding to follow state law."

Aaron Smith, the California organizer for the Marijuana Policy Project, unsuccessfully tried to convince the board that the state constitution tells local officials to implement state law when there is a conflict with federal law.

"We are not here to seek your endorsement of the medical marijuana law. The people of California already did that," Smith said. "This is a sensible and moderate way to regulate medical marijuana."

Source: sacbee.com
Copyright: 2008, sacbee.com
Contact: Ed Fletcher - efletcher@sacbee.com
Website: News - Sacramento supervisors reject state's medical marijuana ID program - sacbee.com
 
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