Marijuana Patients Serve San Diego Supervisors

Marijuana Patients Serve San Diego Supervisors
Posted by CN Staff on January 24, 2006 at 14:13:32 PT
For Immediate Release
Source: ACLU
San Diego, CA -- The American Civil Liberties Union, Americans for Safe Access (ASA) and the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) announced today that they would intervene in the San Diego County Board of Supervisors’ federal lawsuit seeking to overturn California’s Compassionate Use Act. The Act permits patients to use, and doctors to recommend, medical marijuana under the explicit protection of state law. The groups plan to file a motion to intervene in federal court on behalf of medical marijuana patients and their doctors by the end of the day.
"The stakes are too high for medical marijuana patients to depend on Governor Schwarzenegger and the Department of Health Services to defend their interests in court," said Allen Hopper, an attorney with the ACLU Drug Law Reform Project. "These patients and their doctors need to know that someone is looking out exclusively for their interests."At this morning’s Board of Supervisors meeting, local medical marijuana patients demanded that the Supervisors drop their lawsuit and begin issuing medical marijuana identification cards in compliance with state law. The ACLU, ASA and DPA joined patients in criticizing the Supervisors’ lawsuit as baseless and promised at the meeting to immediately intervene in federal court unless the Supervisors complied with the demands. The Supervisors refused."The Supervisors have turned a deaf ear to the pleas of sick and dying people, and now they have shown that they are equally willing to ignore the law," said Joe Elford, chief counsel for ASA. According to a letter the groups delivered to the Supervisors at this morning’s meeting, the law is clear that the county’s lawsuit will soon be thrown out of federal court based on the fact that San Diego County has no standing to sue the state in federal court. "The Supervisors’ decision to continue with the suit shows blatant disregard for the law and the will of their constituents," said Margaret Dooley of DPA. "We expect the court to dismiss their lawsuit in short order."Several individuals are represented by the ACLU, ASA and DPA in today’s motion to intervene. Among them are: * Wendy Christakes, a 29-year-old mother and San Diego resident who has been using medical marijuana since December 2003 to treat chronic pain resulting from herniated discs and the removal of a portion of her backbone;* Pamela Sakuda, a 58-year-old stage-four rectal cancer patient who uses medical marijuana on the recommendation of her physician; and* Norbert Litzinger, the husband and legal primary caregiver of Pamela Sakuda.In addition to patients, the groups are representing Dr. Stephen O’Brien, who specializes in HIV/AIDS treatment in Oakland, California. Many of Dr. O’Brien’s patients experience AIDS-related nausea, wasting syndrome and severe pain, and find prescription drugs to be ineffective in reducing their symptoms. Dr. O’Brien believes that a significant subset of his seriously ill patients benefit from the medical use of marijuana. "Medical marijuana patients are running out of time," said Christakes. "While the Supervisors play politics and waste our money on frivolous lawsuits, we have to find a way to survive."Today’s demand letter is available online at: initial letter sent by the ACLU to the San Diego Board of Supervisors: legal complaint filed by the San Diego Board of Supervisors is available: National Patient Advocacy and Civil Liberties Groups Announce Federal Court Intervention in Supervisors’ "Doomed" Lawsuit. Complete Title: Medical Marijuana Patients Serve San Diego Supervisors a Taste of their Own Medicine Source: ACLU (NY)Published: January 24, 2006Copyright: 2006 ACLUContact: media Website: Articles & Web Sites:ACLU Policy Alliance For Safe Access To Protest County's Marijuana Lawsuit Files Suit To Overturn Med Marijuana Law
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on January 24, 2006 at 20:25:16 PT
News Article from CBS 5
Santa Clara Co. Supervisors Approve Medical Marijuana Program ***January 24, 2006The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors today gave the go-ahead to implement a state-mandated medical marijuana program that enables qualified users to obtain identification cards allowing them to possess, transport and grow marijuana. The board unanimously agreed to support the Medical Marijuana Identification Card Program, which will be operated by the county's public health department starting around March 1. "I am absolutely delighted we'll be looking at this," Supervisor Liz Kniss said today at the board's meeting. By passing Senate Bill 420, which took effect in January 2004, state legislators created the requirement that counties manage a voluntary registration program that identifies medical marijuana patients. Acting on the recommendations of California's Medical Marijuana Task Force, formed by the state attorney general in 1999, legislators deemed such programs necessary to tackle enforcement problems stemming from the passage Proposition 215, also known as the Compassionate Use Act, approved by voters in 1996. That act legalized the use of medical marijuana in California. Federal law, however, still prohibits marijuana use, even for medicinal purposes. Through the Medical Marijuana Identification Card Program, the county estimates that it will issue about 2,600 voluntary cards to patients and caregivers each year. Cards remain valid for one year and cost $60 per client or caregiver. Medi-Cal beneficiaries may purchase cards for $30 each. The county public health department expects the program to generate $145,710 annually, based on calculations that 2,257 clients would pay the $60 fee and 343 would pay the $30 fee. The funds generated will go toward the public health budget for fiscal year 2007. According to the California Department of Health Services, nearly 7,000 Santa Clara County residents are eligible to purchase the card, though the county health department has reached a more conservative estimate based on experiences in other counties. The board also approved the expenditure plan for the program, which will cost $48,570 in expenditures ranging from employee salaries to computer hardware and other supplies. The program is expected to generate enough revenue to make up for its cost by the end of fiscal year 2006. Director of Public Health Guadalupe Olivas told the board that the program would protect individuals who use marijuana to treat serious medical conditions from wrongful arrest and prosecution under state law. The program would help law enforcement officers separate those who smoke marijuana for medical purposes from those who use it illegally. Officers would have access to an Internet-based system they could quickly log into to verify a card's validity. To accommodate a number of patients who suffer from debilitating conditions, Olivas said the public health department plans to operate three locations on a part-time basis throughout the county. The facilities include North County Public Health Offices, located at 660 S. Fair Oaks Ave. in Sunnyvale; West Valley Public Health Offices, located at 577 Salmar Ave. in Campbell; and South County Public Health Offices, located at 80 Highland Ave. in San Martin. Staff members will travel between the three locations after setting up appointments with clients. The use of marijuana for medical purposes remains a hot topic in California as counties disagree on whether the state law is legal. At least nine counties in California have chosen not to participate in the program, whereas others, such as San Francisco and Santa Cruz counties, have operated identification card programs for several years. San Diego County, where federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents recently raided several pot clubs, has filed a lawsuit against the state, arguing that the state legislation is pre-empted by federal law.Copyright: MMVI, CBS Broadcasting Inc.
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