Recount Begins for Berkeley Ballot Measure Addressing Medical Use of Marijuana
Alameda County officials on Monday began a recount of ballots related to Measure R, an initiative on the Nov. 2 Berkeley ballot that included provisions addressing use of marijuana for medical purposes, following a request from supporters of the initiative, the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Hoge, San Francisco Chronicle, 12/14). Official results from the county registrar indicate that the measure lost by 191 votes, according to the Oakland Tribune (Bender, Oakland Tribune, 12/10).
Measure R would have eliminated a requirement that medical marijuana dispensaries in the city obtain a use permit, instead allowing them to open anywhere permitted by zoning laws. Under existing rules, dispensaries for medical marijuana are required to undergo a permit process, including a public hearing, before they are allowed to open. The new system would have eased rules requiring a permit or public notice.
The measure also would have required the city to provide marijuana to patients if state or federal agents seize patients' authorized personal supplies. The measure would have replaced Berkeley's current provision limiting medical marijuana users to 10 marijuana plants with language that allows patients to possess marijuana for medical purposes in quantities determined by "personal needs," as defined by doctors and patients.
In addition, the measure would have established a peer-review committee to oversee the safety and operation of the city's medical marijuana dispensaries (California Healthline, 12/3).
Dege Coutee, spokesperson for the recount and head of the "Yes on R" campaign, said, "We experienced several inconsistencies with the count process that didn't make us feel very good. We see a recount as a way to check the system and make sure it's working appropriately" (Oakland Tribune, 12/10).
The Alliance for Berkeley Patients has said it would finance the recount, which is expected to cost more than $20,000.
Gregory Luke, an attorney for ABP, said he wants access to data from individual electronic voting machines because it is most likely to be accurate, the Chronicle reports.
County Registrar Brad Clark will rule on that matter this week.
Elaine Ginnold, assistant registrar of voters, said her office would manually count all paper absentee and provisional ballots and recount all electronic votes saved on memory cards, according to the Chronicle (San Francisco Chronicle, 12/14).
Patients "who use homegrown marijuana with a doctor's permission and state approval should not be subject to possible arrest, property forfeiture, fines and imprisonment by federal agents," according to a Sacramento Bee editorial. Although the federal government "clearly ... has an interest in preventing drug trafficking ... just as clearly, states have a traditional interest and expertise in regulating health care," the Bee writes, adding that "California's medical marijuana law involves no risk to the rest of the country." The editorial states, "In the absence of federal action to reclassify marijuana as having 'currently accepted medical use,' states should be allowed flexibility to act" (Sacramento Bee, 12/13).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.