Pubdate: Wed,  7 Dec 2005
Source: North County Times (Escondido, CA)
Copyright: 2005 North County Times
Note: Gives LTE priority to North San Diego County and Southwest 
Riverside County residents
Author: Gig Conaughton, Staff Writer
Cited: Americans for Safe Access
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


SAN DIEGO - County supervisors decided behind closed doors Tuesday to 
sue to try to overturn California's 9-year-old medical marijuana law 
- - the "Compassionate Use" initiative in which voters statewide said 
it was OK for seriously ill people to use marijuana to ease their pain.

Supervisors announced last month they would sue the state because 
they did not want to create registries and identification cards to 
help medical marijuana users. But they left open the question of 
whether they would try to overturn Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act.

On Tuesday, the board made it official, voting 4-0, with Supervisor 
Ron Roberts absent, to challenge the initiative.

"It just seemed logical to us," Supervisor Bill Horn said Tuesday 
afternoon. "Why Mickey Mouse around about it?"

Horn and other supervisors have said repeatedly that they think Prop. 
215 is a "bad law," and that supporting it would tell children that 
marijuana was OK, and would increase drug abuse.

But the board will officially try to overturn the initiative on the 
grounds that the state's proposition should be superseded by federal 
law - which considers marijuana illegal. John Sansone, the county's 
lead attorney, said the suits would be filed in federal court 
sometime this month, and that the challenge could eventually reach 
the U.S. Supreme Court.

Although 11 states have passed medical marijuana laws, the federal 
government still categorizes marijuana as a "Schedule 1" drug - 
meaning that it has no recognized medical value, putting it in the 
same classification as heroin, mescaline and LSD.

Ironically, the federal Food and Drug Administration has ruled that 
the active ingredient in marijuana - tetrahydrocannabinol, or "THC" - 
has medicinal value and allows it to be sold as a prescription drug, 
but only if it is produced synthetically, rather than grown.

California voters, meanwhile, voted by 55 percent in 1996 to allow 
people with serious or chronic diseases, with a doctor's 
recommendation, to grow or use marijuana to ease pain and other ailments.

San Diego-area nurse practitioner Claudia Little is on the medical 
advisory board of Americans for Safe Access, a national organization 
in support of medical marijuana patients. A month ago, Little and 
others pleaded with the county not to challenge the state's request 
that it create a registry for medical marijuana users.

Tuesday night, reached at home, Little sighed heavily upon learning 
that the county was planning to take the state to court over the 
voter-approved law itself.

"It's totally political," Little said. "The population is in favor of 
medical marijuana. The politicians are so far behind the curve here, 
it's ridiculous. The politicians aren't representing the people, they 
are just representing a handful of outspoken opponents."

Some of those who pleaded with county supervisors to reconsider their 
decision to challenge the medical marijuana issue in recent weeks 
said they were mothers, grandmothers, military veterans and other 
upstanding citizens who found that marijuana helped them where 
popular prescription drugs failed.

Marijuana has been known to reduce eye pressure in glaucoma cases. 
And proponents have said it has been known to increase appetites of 
cancer and AIDS patients, and to ease pain in many chronic diseases.

Horn, however, said supervisors believe the federal government's 
stance - that grown marijuana has no medical value and should be 
illegal - is right.

Now, they need a court's ruling.

"We need a federal judge to tell us, 'Yes, you do this (state law),' 
or 'No, you don't,' " Horn said.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Richard Lake