Ventura County Supervisors Criticize Law Enforcement Officials for Medical Marijuana Guidelines
The Ventura County Board of Supervisors yesterday criticized county law enforcement officials for "quietly setting a standard" for medical marijuana possession without comments from local health officials and patients, the Los Angeles Times reports. Supervisors called the standard "narrow and incomplete" and asked the law enforcement officials who drafted the guidelines to "reconvene and gather more expert opinions" (Wolcott, Los Angeles Times, 6/5). In 1996, California voters passed Proposition 215, which legalized the use of marijuana to relieve pain associated with chronic illnesses such as cancer and AIDS. However, the law did not set a limit on the amount of marijuana an individual could grow or possess. After two years of research, a panel of city and county law enforcement officials in late March adopted guidelines that allow individuals to possess six marijuana plants or one pound of dried marijuana (Wolcott, Los Angeles Times, 6/1). Supervisors "believe they should have been consulted" on the guidelines, although they have no authority over the policy, and the process "should have been more open to the public," the Times reports (Los Angeles Times, 6/5). The board asked the law enforcement officials who drafted the guidelines to discuss the issue with "medical and agricultural experts." Supervisor Judy Mikels said, "My hope, at the very least, is there could be some dialogue with professionals" (Levin, Ventura County Star, 6/5). County Sheriff Bob Brooks said that the officials who drafted the guidelines studied testimony and evidence from patients and experts in science, law and medicine. He added that the county district attorney's office, the county Sheriff's Department and the chiefs of the county's five police departments approved the guidelines. "We looked at feedback from all sides of this issue. Our policy is a very liberal understanding of the need for the medicinal use of marijuana," Brooks said (Los Angeles Times, 6/5).
In related news, the state Supreme Court yesterday heard arguments in a case that may "set enforcement rules for Proposition 215," the Sacramento Bee reports. The court addressed the medical marijuana measure for the first time in an appeal filed by Myron Mower, a Tuolumne County man convicted in 1998 for growing 31 marijuana plants. The case centers on a provision in Proposition 215 that states that "seriously ill patients using marijuana on a doctor's recommendation are not subject to prosecution." According to the Bee, the justices yesterday "concentrated on working out a procedure for legitimate pot users" to avoid prosecution and determining the amount of marijuana an individual may possess under Proposition 215. Although federal law bans the use or sale of marijuana, "gravely ill patients who were the focus of Proposition 215 are much more likely" to face local authorities and state courts, where the state Supreme Court's "word will be final," the Bee reports (Cooper, Sacramento Bee, 6/5).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.