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San Diego Files Its Appeal Against Medical Marijuana


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Despite a December 6, 2006 ruling from San Diego Superior Court Judge William R. Nevitt Jr. that firmly upheld patients' rights and California's medical marijuana law, on February 22, 2007, the County of San Diego filed an appeal with the California Court of Appeal for the Fourth District.

Last year, Americans for Safe Access (ASA) intervened as a defendant in the case, along with a number of patients, the ACLU Drug Law Reform Project, and the Drug Policy Alliance. Illustrating the serious nature of the policies being challenged in court, one of the patient defendants, Pamela Sakuda, passed away before the December ruling, after a battle with cancer.

"The San Diego Board of Supervisors thought that it was more important to deny protections afforded under state law instead of responding to the needs and obligations of its people," said ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer. "We will continue to fight on the side of patients' rights by challenging this pointless appeal."

The genesis of this legal challenge was supposedly due to a threat by San Diego NORML to sue the County of San Diego unless it implemented the state medical marijuana ID card program. The lawsuit that was filed by the San Diego Board of Supervisors, and later joined by San Bernardino and Merced Counties, argued that federal law preempts state law and, because of that, the county should not be forced to implement state law. After the clear defeat in Superior Court, Merced agreed not to file an appeal. It is unknown at this time whether San Bernardino County will join San Diego in its appeal, although the San Bernardino Board previously voted to do so.

The intervening defendants included Wendy Christakes, Pamela Sakuda, William Britt and Yvonne Westbrook, Californians who use physician-recommended marijuana to treat medical conditions and their side-effects, including chronic pain and sciatica, multiple sclerosis, rectal cancer, epilepsy and post-polio syndrome. Also represented was Sakuda's spouse and caregiver, Norbert Litzinger, and Dr. Stephen O'Brien, a physician who specializes in HIV/AIDS treatment in Oakland, California.

Stay tuned for further updates. You can also click here for more information on this case.


Kris Hermes
Legal Campaign Director
Americans for Safe Access
1322 Webster Street, Suite 402
Oakland, CA 94612
Phone: 510-251-1856 x307
Fax: 510-251-2036
Email: kris@SafeAccessNow.org

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