Santa Cruz City Council Approves Ordinance To Create Department To Oversee Medical Marijuana Distribution
The Santa Cruz City Council on Tuesday voted 4-2 to support the creation of a city-run department that would supervise distribution of medical marijuana to residents, the San Jose Mercury News reports. The department, which would be called the Office of Compassionate Use, would be the first such city office nationwide, according to the Mercury News (McLaughlin, San Jose Mercury News, 10/26).
The office, which would include a five-member advisory commission, would be authorized to distribute medical marijuana to residents who have a note from a physician. In addition, the office would archive records of patients who receive the drug.
The idea for creating a city-run agency for distributing medical marijuana was proposed to the City Council by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Wo/Men Alliance for Medical Marijuana.
Mayor Mike Rotkin, who sponsored the measure with Council member Emily Reilly, said the Office of Compassionate Use likely would contract with a pharmacy to dispense medical marijuana. Rotkin and Reilly said the office could be funded in part by user fees (McCord, Santa Cruz Sentinel, 10/25).
The ordinance to create the department would take effect only if a federal court permits it to proceed (Sullivan, San Francisco Chronicle, 10/27).
Rotkin said, "We're not going to spend any money or take the risk of prosecution" (Chawkins, Los Angeles Times, 10/27).
However, Allen Hopper, an attorney for the ACLU Drug Law Reform Project, said ACLU and WAMM could use the City Council's proposal in a new case to challenge a 2005 Supreme Court ruling asserting that federal drug laws supersede state drug laws, including in cases related to marijuana usage. "We believe the city government, under the 10th Amendment, has the authority to opt out of the federal government's marijuana prohibition scheme," he said (McCord, Santa Cruz Sentinel, 10/25).
According to the Chronicle, a spokesperson for the U.S. attorney's office in San Francisco declined to comment on the ordinance (San Francisco Chronicle, 10/27).
In related news, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors on Tuesday postponed a vote on regulations governing medical marijuana use in the county while it considers an appeal of a previous determination by the Planning Commission that medical marijuana dispensaries are exempt from environmental review, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Supervisors were scheduled to vote on the regulations on Tuesday. The appeal hearing is scheduled for Nov. 15 (Gordon, San Francisco Chronicle, 10/26).