SANTA CRUZ: Ordinance Allows Medical Marijuana Use Without Prescription
The Santa Cruz City Council yesterday unanimously approved a measure that would permit medical marijuana to be grown and used without a doctor's prescription, the AP/Nando Times reports. The ordinance, which is modeled on an Oakland law, would allow patients with AIDS, cancer, anorexia or "any other illness for which marijuana provides relief" to grow and smoke the plant. In order to skirt federal laws prohibiting doctors from prescribing marijuana, the Santa Cruz measure eliminates prescription requirements (Mendoza, AP/Nando Times, 3/29). City Council member Mike Rotkin explained that under previous laws requiring doctor approval for medical marijuana use, physicians successfully prosecuted by the federal government for prescribing the drug risked losing their medical licenses (AP/Contra Costa Times, 3/28). The Santa Cruz ordinance requires city officials to recognize membership cards and certificates signifying participation in the medical marijuana provider association. In 1996, California voters approved a state initiative allowing the use of marijuana for medical purposes; federal law, however, has shut down the majority of the state's medical marijuana clubs. More than 100 residents, including many AIDS and cancer patients, attended yesterday's council meeting to support and testify in favor of the measure. "I look forward to a future where people who use this herb to stay healthy will not be targeted anymore," medical marijuana proponent Theodora Kerry said. Rotkin added, "This is the compassionate thing to do" (AP/Nando Times, 3/29). The ordinance is expected to take effect in May, pending final approval next month (Cole, Santa Cruz County Sentinel, 3/29).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.