Supporters of Berkeley Ballot Measure Addressing Medical Use of Marijuana Sue Over Handling of Recount
Supporters of Measure R, an initiative on the Nov. 2 Berkeley ballot that included provisions addressing use of marijuana for medical purposes, on Thursday filed a lawsuit against Alameda County Registrar Bradley Clark for allegedly mishandling a ballot recount, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
In the lawsuit, members of Americans for Safe Access -- the primary plaintiff -- are seeking to gain access to backup data from individual electronic voting machines, audit records of machine activity, logic and accuracy test results and chain-of-custody records for electronic vote records. Group members said that it is not possible to determine whether error or fraud occurred in the vote without access to such data.
For the recount, Clark decided that officials only use electronic voting machines' memory cards to collect data from the individual machines. Such memory cards provide total vote tallies and also can print images of individual ballots for a hand count. Officials also are counting absentee and provisional ballots by hand (Hoge, San Francisco Chronicle, 1/1).
The recount began in mid-December at the request of supporters of the initiative after original results indicated the measure was defeated by 191 votes.
Measure R would eliminate a requirement that medical marijuana dispensaries in the city obtain a use permit, instead allowing them to open anywhere permitted by zoning laws. Under existing rules, dispensaries for medical marijuana are required to undergo a permit process, including a public hearing, before they are allowed to open. The new system would ease rules requiring a permit or public notice.
The measure also would require the city to provide marijuana to patients if state or federal agents seize patients' authorized personal supplies. The measure would replace Berkeley's current provision limiting medical marijuana users to 10 marijuana plants with language that allows patients to possess marijuana for medical purposes in quantities determined by "personal needs," as defined by doctors and patients.
In addition, the measure would establish a peer-review committee to oversee the safety and operation of the city's medical marijuana dispensaries (California Healthline, 12/14/04).
Results of the recount are expected next week (San Francisco Chronicle, 1/1).
In related news, the Washington Post on Saturday profiled California residents Angel Raich and Diane Monson, plaintiffs in a U.S. Supreme Court case alleging that Attorney General John Ashcroft exceeded his authority by enforcing federal laws on state-sanctioned marijuana that was not sold or transported across state borders. A ruling in the case is expected by July (Nieves, Washington Post, 1/1).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.