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