California Healthline Rounds Up Recent Medical Marijuana News
The San Diego Union-Tribune on Sunday examined the "huge disparity in the enforcement of Proposition 215," the 1996 ballot initiative that allows state physicians to recommend marijuana to some patients for medical use. According to the Union-Tribune, the "tug-of-war between state and federal drug laws" following the enactment of Proposition 215, which is "[i]gnored by some and embraced by others," has "mired police, prosecutors and other law enforcement agencies in deep conflict." A law (SB 420) that took effect Jan. 1 is intended to facilitate standardized enforcement of Proposition 215 (McDonald, San Diego Union-Tribune, 2/22). SB 420 stipulates that state residents can possess no more than eight ounces of dried marijuana -- or 12 immature or six mature live plants -- for medical purposes. It creates a voluntary photo identification card system for people who legally can use or dispense marijuana under state law. In addition, the law directs Department of Health Services to develop the program, requires county health departments to certify applicants' eligibility for the IDs and clarifies who is allowed to use medical marijuana under Proposition 215 (California Healthline, 2/4). However, DHS has not yet issued ID cards or established a toll-free phone number that law enforcement officials could call to verify a patient's use of marijuana for medical purposes. Medical marijuana advocates say that state officials are not committed to enforcing Proposition 215 and that some lawmakers and police departments are "deliberately dragging their feet" because of their opposition to medical marijuana, according to the Union-Tribune. However, a DHS spokesperson said that the department is "reviewing options" for applying SB 420 (San Diego Union-Tribune, 2/22).
The Los Angeles Times on Monday considered the "small but growing number" of California physicians who are recommending marijuana to patients for "a host of medical conditions, including some controversial ones, such as adult depression and attention deficit disorder in children." Igor Grant, director of the University of California-San Diego Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research, said, "Marijuana shows encouraging results in some areas like pain management and nausea. But there is little evidence to suggest that it has any benefit beyond a few defined areas." However, physicians who recommend marijuana to patients "insist its health benefits are plentiful" and say that in some cases other treatments have proven ineffective, the Times reports (Costello, Los Angeles Times, 2/23).
NPR's "Weekend Edition" on Sunday reported on a measure that the Oakland City Council passed this month to regulate the use of medical marijuana (Campbell, "Weekend Edition," NPR, 2/22). The measure will reduce the number of medical marijuana clubs in the city from 12 to four and prohibits clubs from making excessive profits, allows the city to review their financial records and requires the clubs to disperse because of a city law that requires medical marijuana vendors to be 1,000 feet apart. The measure also restricts the amount of marijuana a patient can possess to eight ounces and six mature plants and prohibits patients from smoking marijuana in the clubs where they purchase it (California Healthline, 2/5). The segment includes comments by Oakland City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente (Campbell, "Weekend Edition," NPR, 2/22). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.