MEDICAL MARIJUANA: Sonoma County Approves Voluntary Approach
Sonoma County District Attorney Mike Mullins yesterday signed the county's new medical marijuana plan approved by the county medical association the previous day, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports. Under the plan, which became effective yesterday, terminally ill patients can ask the Sonoma County Medical Association to review their medical records and decide if their use of pot is legal (see CHL 9/8). "I feel like it's a good beginning. We're really hoping this will take the fear element out from the patients and the doctors," said Sarah Hutt of the Sonoma Alliance for Medical Marijuana, which supported the proposal. Dr. George Flores, the county's public health director and co-author of the review proposal, said part of the plan is to educate doctors about Proposition 215. "There are many in our ranks who are not aware of the law that allows use" of medical marijuana, he said.
Sandy Feinland, attorney for the alliance, said, "I think it's going to give certain people assurance that they won't be prosecuted," adding that the voluntary process "is going to take the issue out of the hands of police who ... are not comfortable talking to doctors and reviewing medical records and ... aren't qualified to do" so. However, some supporters of medical marijuana are critical of Sonoma County's approach. The Press Democrat reports that Leon Mortensen of Americans for Cannabis Use "doesn't like the idea because it entails making oneself known to police." He said, "I would trust John Doe on the street before I'd trust a majority of the cops." Dale Gieringer, head of the state chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, supports the plan but "thinks it understandable that some marijuana users are suspicious of law enforcement." He said, "Whether patients are going to want to register with the D.A. and police is yet to be seen" (Smith, 9/17). Click medical marijuana to read past CHL coverage of the issue.