Sacramento Area District Attorneys Developing Guidelines for Enforcing State Medical Marijuana Law
District attorneys in Sacramento, Placer, El Dorado, Yuba and Amador counties are working to create "uniform standards" to enforce Proposition 215, a 1996 voter-approved ballot initiative that allows individuals to possess, cultivate and use marijuana for medicinal purposes, the Sacramento Bee reports. Although the initiative passed five years ago, it has been "fraught" with enforcement problems because it failed to define how much marijuana could be used for medicinal purposes. In addition, Proposition 215 conflicts with federal law that prohibits growing or possessing marijuana, and the Supreme Court recently ruled that distribution of the drug by independent cooperatives was illegal. To help officials enforce the initiative consistently, the five counties are attempting to develop a "regional approach." Larry Brown, executive director of the California District Attorneys Association, said many counties are "attempting local guidelines" but will remain "hamstrung" without a state law. To address the problem, state Sen. John Vasconcellos (D-Santa Clara) has introduced a bill (SB 187) that would direct state and local health officials to establish uniform guidelines. In addition, the bill would allow patients using medicinal marijuana to obtain identification cards to show that they are authorized to use the drug (Enkoji, Sacramento Bee, 6/20). Earlier this month, the Senate passed the measure, which is now being considered in the Assembly (California Healthline, 6/7). However, the Bee reports that similar legislation died last year. Yuba County District Attorney Patrick McGrath said, "We could look to the Legislature and the governor to cure the problem, but if not, we need to take matters into our own hands and come up with some kind of guidelines" (Sacramento Bee, 6/20).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.