Ventura County Board of Supervisors Votes To Follow State Medical Marijuana Guidelines
The Ventura County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted 4-1 in favor of a rule to allow people who use marijuana for medical reasons to cultivate six mature plants and keep on hand eight ounces of dried marijuana, ending "for now board debate on how much marijuana county law enforcement should allow if it is being used on a doctor's advice," the Los Angeles Times reports. The decision, which reduces by half the amount of marijuana previously allowed in Ventura County, follows a state law (SB 420) that took effect Jan. 1 (Saillant, Los Angeles Times, 1/28). The law stipulates that state residents can possess no more than eight ounces of dried marijuana -- or 12 immature or six mature live plants -- to use the drug for medical purposes. It also creates a voluntary photo identification card system for people who legally can use or dispense marijuana under state law. The law directs the Department of Health Services to develop the program and requires county health departments to certify applicants' eligibility for the IDs; it also clarifies who is allowed to use medical marijuana under Proposition 215, the 1996 ballot initiative allowing state physicians to recommend marijuana to sick patients (California Healthline, 1/21). The four supervisors who voted for the new standards said that the state guidelines "struck a good balance" in the debate, according to the Times. County Sheriff Bob Brooks said law enforcement officials are not bound by the new guidelines because the guidelines conflict with a federal law that outlaws all marijuana use, but he said that they would abide by the county rules on a case-by-case basis (Los Angeles Times, 1/28).
The legal questions surrounding the cultivation of marijuana for medical purposes are the "final frontier" in the ongoing battle over medical marijuana, and a proposed community marijuana garden in El Dorado County may provide the test case, a Sacramento Bee editorial states (Sacramento Bee, 1/26). Earlier this month, a group of about 20 El Dorado County residents who are eligible to use marijuana for medical purposes under state law asked the county Board of Supervisors to work with them to create a community garden to grow and harvest marijuana plants. Garden organizers said that marijuana grown in the community garden would not be harvested for profit and would not be distributed in any way that might be construed as interstate commerce (California Healthline, 1/21). The editorial states that the community garden organizers "may find their endeavor to be fertile ground for a court challenge" if the federal government decides to prosecute the growers. According to the editorial, the nationwide ban against medical marijuana "essentially loses its teeth" if the federal government loses such a challenge. "Whether the test case turns out to originate in El Dorado or somewhere else, the showdown is inevitable," the editorial concludes (Sacramento Bee, 1/26).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.