Two-term limit for supervisors urged

January 18, 2006

Jeff McDonald, San Diego Union Tribune

Three activists angry about a vote by the Board of Supervisors to fight state medical marijuana laws launched a campaign yesterday to limit county supervisors to two terms.

They've already lined up support for the petition drive from two national advocacy groups and have a commitment from one of those organizations to hire paid signature-gatherers.

"These supervisors have been running unopposed for years," said Claudia Little, a retired nurse from Point Loma. "They feel they can really do anything because they just get voted in year after year."

The medical marijuana advocates have their work cut out for them.

County officials said the group needs 66,121 valid signatures of registered San Diego County voters turned in by mid-May to qualify for the November ballot.

Little was joined by residents Rudy Reyes and Dwight Filley in signing the notice of intent to circulate petitions. She said they already have support from the advocacy groups Marijuana Policy Project and Americans for Safe Access.

Bruce Mirken of the Marijuana Policy Project said his organization plans to hire paid signature-gatherers to help qualify the initiative.

"We have made a commitment that we will put as much money into it as is needed to get the thing on the ballot," he said. "We're hoping other organizations will join in."

Last week, the Marijuana Policy Project released poll results that showed 67 percent of county residents support medicinal use of marijuana.

According to the same survey, 80 percent said suing the state would be "wasting taxpayers' money," and 84 percent said they support term limits for county supervisors.

The county Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 late last year to disregard state law requiring counties to issue identification cards to qualified medical marijuana users. Supervisors also voted to sue the state over its law because it conflicts with federal drug laws.

Supervisor Bill Horn, one of the three elected officials to vote against issuing the identification cards, said term limits only hurt voters.

"That's what's wrong with the state," he said. "If you don't want a supervisor, don't vote him into office."

Horn said he opposed identification cards because issuing them would violate federal law.

"The state of California is unwilling to issue the cards," he said. "They want the counties to do it so they're the ones who get in trouble, not the state."

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