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Council Should Let Supreme Court

Decide Medical Marijuana Issue


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Source: Modesto Bee, The (CA)
Published: March 6, 2005
Copyright: 2005 The Modesto Bee
Contact: [email protected]

We think the Modesto City Council should let the Supreme Court of the United States handle this one.

A minor uproar is developing among some people in the city about the unbelievably quiet opening of a store that sells medicinal marijuana. Yes, dope is being sold openly and, presumably, legally right off McHenry Avenue.

First, we don't think this is cause for undue alarm. Most of the people of President Bush's generation and younger are familiar with the effects of marijuana through their own experimentation (inhaling or not) or through the use of someone they know.

Seventy years ago, many people thought smoking "reefer" led straight to heroin addiction and horrifying criminal acts. Few people still hold those beliefs.

Many people use marijuana to get high which remains against the law. Some also misuse prescription drugs for the same reason. But the people who buy marijuana from stores such as the one that opened on McHenry are actually sick. That's why California voters overwhelmingly supported (56 percent to 44 percent) Proposition 215 to legalize marijuana for medical purposes in 1996 nearly a decade ago.

Modesto was more conservative than the rest of the state, but even in the city the vote was extremely close 16,950 against legalization for medicinal use and 16,354 for it.

Passing Proposition 215 was the humane thing to do. It meant those suffering from the blinding effects of glaucoma or the nausea and loss of appetite common to chemotherapy treatment could obtain the one drug that helps them. All they needed was a prescription.

Unfortunately, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft didn't agree.

In 2001, DEA agents arrested Angela Raich of Oakland, a woman dying of a particularly painful form of cancer. Like many, she had discovered the prescription pills didn't work; so she bought marijuana at a cooperative.

Last November, arguments in her case reached the Supreme Court. Transcripts of the oral arguments ran to 57 pages some of it quite entertaining.

The Supreme Court is in session now and is expected to render its decision soon on whether California's laws regulating growth and sale of marijuana entirely within the state's borders supersede the federal government's desire to halt all sales.

In the meantime, cities across the state Livermore, Visalia, Angels Camp, Seal Beach, Campbell just to name a few are grappling with this question. Most have decided to take a wait-and-see approach.

When it meets Tuesday night, the City Council should, too.

If the Supreme Court rules against Raich, then our state's sick people will have to turn elsewhere for relief. If the court finds in favor of Raich, then Proposition 215 will be validated. At that time, the city should establish rules to regulate sale and address any concerns.

If people at the California Health Care Collective are breaking laws selling to people without prescriptions or smoking marijuana on the premises they should be arrested. If not, the city should leave them alone.

Related Articles & Web Site:

Angel Raich v. Ashcroft News

Resolve Issues on Medical Pot

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