Protesters seek medical care, not jail

August 08, 2006

Nikki Cobb, San Bernardino Sun

A handful of people carrying signs reading ``Give us our medicine'' and ``Stop the war on patients'' protested outside Tuesday's meeting of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors.

The group was opposed to San Bernardino County's continued policy of arresting marijuana users, even those using the drug for medical purposes.

``We're hoping to get medical i.d. cards reinstated in the county,'' said Richard McCabe, of Johnson Valley. ``They're trying to make criminals out of sick people.''

The protesters believe a state law allowing medical marijuana use trumps a federal law prohibiting the drug in all circumstances.

Proposition 215, passed by California voters in 1996, allows `` ... seriously ill Californians have the right to obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes...''

The Board of Supervisors is joining San Diego County in suing the state for adopting Prop. 215, arguing that it violates federal law which makes no allowances for using marijuana growing, posessing or using it are illegal in the U.S.

A county official affirmed Tuesday that the supervisors' stance has not wavered. The county is still planning to join San Diego County in its lawsuit, the official said.

Chris Laue of Joshua Tree said marijuana eases the pain of his severe arthritis. Unlike the painkillers his doctor initially prescribed, Laue said, he found marijuana to be effective and relatively non-addictive.

Besides chronic pain, marijuana also is used to treat asthma and glaucoma, and to aid stroke patients. Laue said he believes state law takes precedence over federal law, and is lobbying to have San Bernardino County issue medical marijuana i.d. cards, as is done in other parts of the state.

McCabe said he uses marijuana for arthritis, and said with the i.d. cards he knows he's buying high-quality drugs, rather than the mixed bag available on the street.

``Why can't we be like the rest of the state?'' he asked.

Sunshine Laue, Chris Laue's wife, said marijuana eases the aftereffects of a massive stroke she had 35 years ago. She said she wishes the police were on her side, not adversaries, because she feels vulnerable in her marijuana use while it is considered illegal.

``It has helped me tremendously,'' she said of the drug. ``It has calmed me down ... it has made me feel normal again.''

``What's the big deal? It's an herb. It grows in the ground,'' Sunshine Laue said. ``God gave it to us.''

Bobbi Jo Janssen of Johnson Valley, said she is caretaker for her husband, who she has an extremely bad back. Marijuana ``helps tremendously,'' she said.

``I think we havve the right to use the medication that is best for our body,'' Janssen said. ``MD's legal doctors recommended this medication. But we're not allowed to use it.''

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