Report Examines Strategies for Involvement of San Francisco in Establishment of Medical Marijuana Cooperative
More than a year after San Francisco voters approved a ballot measure that directed city officials to consider the establishment of a program to grow and distribute marijuana to people for medical use, a report by the city Office of Legislative Analyst details how San Francisco could establish such a cooperative and also highlights potential problems, the Los Angeles Times reports. The city hopes to model its approach on a medical marijuana cooperative in Santa Cruz that "challenged federal prohibitions" against use of the drug by the general public on constitutional grounds after a September 2002 raid by federal agents shut down its operation, the Times reports. According to San Francisco officials, the city could help local efforts to establish a cooperative by changing the city's planning code or providing grants for the purchase of land or equipment to be used by a cooperative. The report also said that involving the city would reduce the risk and cost of providing marijuana for medical use. However, the city's involvement in the establishment of a medical marijuana cooperative also involves a number of risks, including the potential for increased city liability in accidents involving marijuana obtained from the cooperative and the loss of some federal funds for city projects, according to the report.
Although the report stopped "far short of recommending that San Francisco get into the marijuana cultivation business," activists say it is a "solid first step," the Times reports. "We've always had the inclination for the public policy and a lot of cooperation from the police, the Department of Public Health, the city attorney and district attorneys," San Francisco Supervisor Tom Ammiano said, adding, "I think San Francisco is in a pivotal position to push this forward." Richard Meyer of the Drug Enforcement Administration said, "Federal law doesn't make any distinction about marijuana," adding, "No individual or institution is above the law. [San Francisco] would be in violation of the law, and it would be within our right to proceed as with any other investigation" (Romney/Bailey, Los Angeles Times, 2/13).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.