MEDICAL MARIJUANA: California Mayors Ask Feds To Drop Case Against Clubs
San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown (D) joined the mayors of Oakland, Santa Cruz and West Hollywood yesterday in "firing off a salvo of letters to Washington asking the Clinton administration to stop persecuting medical marijuana clubs," the Los Angeles Times reports. The four mayors asked the federal government to drop lawsuits pending against "six California cannabis distributors and their 10 operators" (La Ganga, 3/19). In their letter, the mayors said closing the clubs that distribute marijuana to terminally ill patients would force patients "to search back alleys and street corners for their medicine" (Ritter/Bacon, USA Today, 3/19). Reuters/Baltimore Sun reports yesterday's letter "sharply escalates the political and legal battle over medical marijuana use" (3/19). The Times reports at issue "is a complicated interplay of local, state and federal issues." In San Francisco especially, the city is poised to fight a two-front war, one against the state and one against the federal government (3/19).
In related news, U.S. Rep. James Rogan (R-Pasadena) "says he will back a resolution that opposes the use of marijuana for medical purposes." Rogan's recent action comes "despite having supported" the idea of medical marijuana when he was a state assemblyman representing Glendale, the Los Angeles Times reports. "I supported (medical use of marijuana) in the Assembly, but only in limited circumstances of a physician being able to prescribe marijuana for terminal patients," he said. House Resolution 372, the measure supported by Rogan, says marijuana "is a dangerous and addictive drug and should not be legalized for medicinal use." Rogan said he does not support Proposition 215 because it is "too broad in scope." He said, "It allows any medical practitioner to use it. And that could mean an acupuncturist or ... a witch doctor. And not all of the patients are terminal cases" (Smith, 3/18).
An editorial in today's San Francisco Chronicle says the "head-on collision" between the federal government and San Francisco lawmakers who support of medical marijuana -- Brown and District Attorney Terence Hallinan -- "should be avoided." The editorial says there are "major gray areas that need better definition" before resolution can occur. According to the editorial, a bill by Sen. John Vasconcellos (D-San Jose) would do just this by calling together "a group representing all sides and work[ing] out hard-headed ground rules for cultivating and dispensing marijuana to those in need." The editorial concludes, "All of the parties involved in this issue need to look for a compromise that respects the clear will of the voters, which was to make marijuana available to those with a legitimate medical need for it. The solution should do no more and no less" (3/19).