Pubdate: Mon, 11 Dec 2006
Source: Merced Sun-Star (CA)
Copyright: 2006 Merced Sun-Star
Author: Corinne Reilly
Note: The decision
Cited: Merced County Board of Supervisors
Cited: Safe Access Now
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal)


Merced County officials say a state judge's ruling against the county 
upholding California's medical marijuana law is inadequate.

County officials haven't decided whether to appeal the recent ruling, 
but said in a brief statement issued by the Board of Supervisors on 
Thursday that the decision "doesn't fully address" whether the county 
should comply with state or federal marijuana laws.

San Diego Superior Court Judge William R. Nevitt, Jr. ruled Wednesday 
against Merced and two other counties when he refused to overturn 
California's law permitting medicinal uses of the drug.

The counties argued that because federal law prohibits all uses of 
the drug, counties shouldn't be held to the state law that requires 
them to accommodate medical marijuana users by issuing them 
identification cards.

Nevitt's ruling said counties would not be breaking federal law by 
issuing the identification cards, but it didn't go so far as to force 
the counties to issue them.

County officials say the board will meet in closed session Tuesday to 
discuss whether they'll appeal the ruling.

Members of the Board of Supervisors and county attorneys declined to 
comment further.

The county joined the lawsuit, along with San Diego and San Bernadino 
counties, earlier this year after repeated pleas from Merced resident 
Grant Wilson to implement a program to issue identification cards for 
medical marijuana users.

Wilson, who suffers from Hepatitis C, was arrested last year after 
police discovered pot plants growing in his home.

Members of the board said when the county joined the lawsuit that 
they weren't necessarily seeking to overturn the state law. Rather, 
the board said it only sought guidance as to which law -- state or 
federal -- it should follow.

Officials with both San Diego and San Bernadino counties also say 
they haven't decided whether to appeal, but agreed the ruling failed 
to provide adequate guidance.

Nevitt's ruling confirmed a provisional decision made in the case in November.

Medical marijuana advocate Aaron Smith of Safe Access Now said the 
ruling is a victory for patients who rely on marijuana.

"I hope the county will do the right thing, let this ruling stand, 
and move into compliance with the law," Smith said.

California voters passed the law allowing medical uses of the drug in 1996.

Currently only 23 of California's 58 counties are issuing 
identification cards, Smith said. 
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