Time to take pot back to the polls?

December 14, 2006

Jim Trageser, Columnist, North County Times

Democracy in action, it surely isn't.

I'm not entirely clear whose interests the politicos on the San Diego County Board of Supervisors think they're representing when they file suit to overturn a law passed by the voters.

In fact, it's not particularly clear that they know what they're doing.

Earlier this week, the supervisors decided to appeal a court ruling that had dismissed the county's lawsuit against a state law that legalized medicinal use of marijuana.

The supes' argument, such as it is, goes like this: Since federal law still bans marijuana, the county should not be bound by state law allowing it. That, in fact, the state law should be thrown out.

The judge who heard the initial round in this ridiculous bout of political posturing ---- you do all realize we're paying for the lawyers on both sides of this lawsuit? ---- ruled that since the state law doesn't prohibit or interfere with federal agents from enforcing federal law within California, that the Compassionate Use Act does not violate federal law.

It simply contradicts it.

While such a contradiction between state and federal law might drive a legal philosopher around the bend with its lack of consistency, the rest of us ought to be able to live with it.

Particularly those we elect to carry out our wishes.

And it's not as if San Diego voters disagreed with the rest of the state: The Compassionate Use Act was created by ballot measure in 1996, and some 52 percent of San Diego County voters supported it. (Statewide, the measure passed with 54 percent support.)

That's still a majority, no?

On the other hand, this is at least partially our own fault ---- we did, after all, elect the folks currently sitting on the Board of Supervisors and thumbing their noses at us. And spending tens of thousands of our dollars on a lawsuit that basically tells us where to stick our silly little ideas on democracy.

Obviously, Bill Horn's handy re-election last summer in the face of his unwillingness to abide by voters' decisions means that the supes have little to fear in terms of backlash on this issue. Yes, we in the electorate want medicinal use of pot to be legal ---- but we're not going to get all worked up over it and throw anyone out of office for defying us.

So the ongoing requests from medical use activists for the county to drop this asinine lawsuit are likely to fall on deaf (or at least hubristic) ears.

Does that leave the rest of us ---- those who still believe in things like democracy and, oh, I don't know, sanity maybe? ---- with no options?

Not necessarily.

Perhaps another ballot measure, this one directing the Board of Supervisors to drop the lawsuit against the Compassionate Use Act and obey its provisions, could be placed before county voters.

Assuming voters haven't changed their minds since the state measure was passed a decade ago, it might be that such a vote would be a clear enough message that even our local supervisors could understand it.

And hopefully act on it.

-- Contact staff writer Jim Trageser at (760) 631-6628 or jtrageser@nctimes.com.



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