Pubdate: Sun, 20 Nov 2011
Source: Appeal-Democrat (Marysville, CA)
Copyright: 2011 Appeal-Democrat
Author: Ben van der Meer
Bookmark: (Cannabis - California)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


If you want strong opinions from Yuba County Supervisor Andy Vasquez, 
just mention "prescription for medical marijuana."

Using "prescription" and "medical" implies a standard Vasquez said he 
believes can't be applied for 1996's Proposition 215, which legalized 
the controlled substance for medical purposes in California.

"It was a loosely written law," Vasquez said. "It was passed without 
a lot of serious scrutiny."

Vasquez has taken the lead in pushing for more education, and 
oversight, of marijuana in Yuba County, saying it's harming teens and 
children and being used in violation of common sense.

Next month, at Vasquez's request, a doctor from the county's Health 
and Human Services Department will make a presentation on marijuana's 
health effects to the Board of Supervisors.

Previously, Vasquez commissioned a report by Yuba County Counsel 
Angil Morris-Jones on the county's legal options to address medical marijuana.

But Morris-Jones, in giving the report to county supervisors last 
week, said the county's options are limited for addressing the issue 
of minors being prescribed medical marijuana.

"It's state law," she said.

The county continues to investigate, with the possibility of a 
proposal for supervisors by the end of the year, a possible ordinance 
on medical marijuana grow sites and how they affect their neighbors.

Sheriff Steve Durfor, who's working on the ordinance with other 
county officials, said it's in response to a surge in complaints by 
neighbors of growing operations legal under Proposition 215.

"Their quality of life is being greatly affected by grow sites," 
Durfor said, adding District Attorney Patrick McGrath and 
Morris-Jones are looking into how the ordinance can pass legal muster.

Vasquez said possible restrictions on age and usage are his goal. 
Going into a Yuba City restaurant bathroom where the smell of 
marijuana forced it to be aired out, combined with a story of a teen 
whose predisposition to schizophrenia was exacerbated by marijuana 
use, he said, make the case for him.

"I don't believe anyone has a right to force an intoxicant on 
someone," he said. "Whether it should be legal, that's a question for lawyers."

The director for the California chapter of the National Organization 
for the Reform of Marijuana Laws said some of Vasquez's stances are 
out of date.

"Use of marijuana by school kids has declined since medical marijuana 
has passed, and that's been under-publicized," said Dale Gieringer of 

He added there's anecdotal evidence from medical professionals of 
marijuana being helpful in treating medical conditions in teens.

The upheaval in medical marijuana - seen in everything from ordinance 
discussions in Yuba County to federal enforcement of drug laws 
statewide - is because of the conflict between state and federal law 
on marijuana, Gieringer said.

Those problems could be solved if the federal government had less 
resistance to legalizing the drug, or at least researching its 
effects on the body.

But Vasquez said it's an issue where a lack of oversight elsewhere 
cries out for a local response.

"I think we have a right as a county to set up laws to protect 
citizens if the state won't," he said.
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