MEDICAL MARIJUANA: Judge Rejects Oakland’s Policy
A federal judge last week dismissed Oakland's attempt to "shield" the operators of the city's medical marijuana club from federal drug laws by declaring them officers of the city. U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer said instead "he may allow a jury to decide" whether medical marijuana clubs in the area should remain open. The AP/San Francisco Chronicle reported that Breyer "tentatively scheduled" a hearing for Sept. 28 to determine whether there should be a trial; in the meantime, he said clubs in Oakland and two other Northern California cities can remain open. Calling Oakland's policy "creative," but "not persuasive," Breyer decided not to dismiss the federal government's suit against the Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Cooperative. But he did choose to dismiss the federal government's motion declaring the clubs in contempt of court. "We're not dealing with a subversive effort to undercut the government's drug war. This is a careful and good-faith effort to implement the will of the people, consistent with federal law," said Gerald Uelman, the attorney representing the Oakland club (9/1). Jeff Jones, director of the Oakland club, "said the club will remain open" (San Francisco Chronicle, 9/1).
Under a medical marijuana proposal being considered in Sonoma County, terminally ill patients could take "pre-emptive" action guaranteeing that they would not be prosecuted for drug use. The Santa Rosa Press-Democrat reported that the "Compassionate Care Act" would set up a "voluntary program [where] people who use marijuana medically could ask a panel of doctors to review their medical records and decide if their use of pot is legal" under Proposition 215. After the doctors make a ruling, it would be up to the patient to convey this to the district attorney and police. The Press-Democrat reported that this strategy would allow medical marijuana users "to establish themselves as legal users in the eyes of law enforcement." However, if the doctors determined that there was no justification for the medical use of marijuana, the patient would have no recourse for appeal. Once law enforcement had been notified that a patient was a legal user, officers would "most likely visit the person to confirm that the number of plants or quantity of dried marijuana does not exceed that necessary for the patient's personal use."
Code Of Honor
The Sonoma proposal has backing from a "philosophically divergent" group of people, including District Attorney Mike Mullins and the Sonoma Alliance for Medical Marijuana. "This is cutting-edge, and it's a great solution," said defense attorney Sandy Feinland, who represents the alliance. "This is a real landmark proposal," said Dr. Russell Sawyer, a physician who would sit on the ruling board. But John Entwistle, co-author of Prop. 215, "doesn't like the sound" of the new proposal, the Press-Democrat reported. "It's not legal," he said, noting that Prop. 215 "embraces the honor system." He said, "This isn't the time to be second-guessing patients. It's the honor system. It works." But supporters of the new proposal noted that "it could prevent the problems that occur when the question of someone's compliance or non-compliance with Prop. 215 arises suddenly, in the heat of a potential drug bust." The district attorney and the Sonoma County Medical Association must approve the measure before it can take effect (Smith, 8/30).