Supervisors to receive report on medical marijuana cards

September 22, 2006

Greg Moberly, Times-Herald

 Medical marijuana supporters finally will have their day before Solano County leaders Tuesday, but if they're expecting definitive action they'll be disappointed.

The Board of Supervisors only are expected to receive a report on a voter-approved state medical marijuana card program. Program supporters, along with at least a couple supervisors, thought the board would decide Tuesday whether to administer the card program.

Members of Solano Patients' Group and Safe Access Now, who support medicinal marijuana, have for several months publicly lobbied supervisors to implement the program.

"I am somewhat hopeful we'll have some kind of direction that's positive," said Aaron Smith with Safe Access Now. He said he hopes board members will indicate support Tuesday for a future yes vote.

The state card program that Smith and backers want specifically allows California counties to track residents who receive physician-prescribed marijuana.

At least 20 of the state's 58 counties have established the card program, but other counties are hesitant to go against federal drug laws that don't allow medicinal marijuana, according to a county staff report.

Still, Supervisor Duane Kromm, District 3-Fairfield, said supporters deserve a board decision on the program.

"My expectation is the board should take a stand," Kromm said. Despite that perspective, Kromm says he's still struggling with how he'll vote.

"Is there real medicinal aid offered by smoking marijuana?" Kromm said. He said he hasn't yet been convinced.

Supervisor Barbara Kondylis, District 1-Vallejo, like Kromm, is disappointed the board isn't set to vote on the card program.

Kondylis is the only board member publicly supporting medical marijuana.

"You'll probably hear some screaming about it Tuesday," Kondylis said, referring to herself and card program supporters.

Waiting for the issue to be resolved in the courts isn't what county staff should be deciding, Kondylis said. "That's a decision the board should make."

In 1996, by a 56 percent to 44 percent margin, state voters approved Prop. 215, which allowed for medicinal marijuana. Three years ago the state passed legislation specifying how medicinal marijuana should be tracked.

Galen Lawton, president of the Solano Patients' Group, says his members are being needlessly arrested by law enforcement.

"Really, it's harassment," Lawton said.

Lawton said all who use medicinal marijuana might not have the financial means to go through court proceedings.

Lawton said he has a chronic nerve injury that causes headaches which can be soothed by marijuana.

Supporters of medicinal marijuana say they need the drug to relieve an assortment of ailments including chronic pain, cancer and AIDS, or other life-threatening illnesses.

- E-mail Greg Moberly at gmoberly@thnewsnet.com or call 553-6833.



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