SANTA CRUZ: City May Give Medical Marijuana Group Official Sanction
A Santa Cruz organization that affords free medical marijuana to its 200 members might soon "get the city's official blessing" to distribute the drug, the San Jose Mercury News reports. Santa Cruz City Council members Mike Rotkin and Tim Fitzmaurice have asked the city to approve the work of the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana. Rotkin said, "They've been very responsible in what they do, and they're making a huge difference for people." He added, "This is just one more level of protection for people doing this work." In 1996, California voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 215 to allow individuals to use marijuana if prescribed by a physician for help in controlling seizures, easing glaucoma and improving the appetites of those with cancer or AIDS. Since the measure's passage, Santa Cruz police and the county sheriff have not cited individuals on marijuana charges if they are members of the alliance or can prove they have a medical need. But because the federal government "has vowed to prosecute all users and providers" of marijuana, Santa Cruz has no power to stop federal drug agents from prosecuting individuals. However, Rotkin said that the city's "official sanction" could help. The ordinance would "deputize" the alliance's members "as agents of the city as a shield against prosecution." Valerie Corral, the alliance's founder, said the ordinance "doesn't protect anyone from federal law, but it provides a kind of blessing. It's extremely important we have the support of our city. It maintains access and integrity." According to Rotkin, Oakland is the only other California city to have taken such a step, as it declared a state of emergency to sanction the Oakland Cannabis Buyers Club. The Santa Cruz City Council will consider the matter as early as March 14 (Woolfolk, 2/28).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.