Marijuana as medicine

April 14, 2007

EDITORIAL, Press-Telegram

Orange County supervisors should honor voters' wishes.

Californians want doctors to be able to prescribe marijuana to patients who would benefit from it, but federal law makes it illegal to sell or possess it. On Tuesday, Orange County supervisors will decide what to do about the conflict.

It's easy to argue this one either way, since there is no question that some people abuse the privilege and turn medical marijuana into the makings of pot parties. But there is no question either than some sick people, desperate for relief from pain or nausea, find no better medication than marijuana, and they should have it. That benefit far outweighs any disadvantages.

California voters approved medical use of marijuana more than 10 years ago by a comfortable margin, and since then polls show even stronger support of the idea. A state law in effect since 2004 set up the ID program, which is voluntary and is supported by a $66 fee.

In Southern California, so far only Riverside County has a program under way in which patients, with doctors' approval, get a medical marijuana ID card and get access to the drug. Los Angeles County has approved the concept, and plans to implement it this year.

But three counties- San Bernardino, Merced and San Diego - have filed suit to block the program statewide as being superceded by federal law. A Superior Court judge ruled that the program is legal, but San Diego county supervisors have appealed that decision.

They must be smoking something. In any case, San Diego - the city at least - is hardly a model for good public policy. Officials there ought to focus on something real.

Orange County supervisors would be wise to follow state law, and the clear wishes of California voters.



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