Medical marijuana worthy of support

November 25, 2007

Jyl Lutes, city councilwoman, OpEd , Salinas Californian

This Tuesday, the Salinas City Council will consider adopting an ordinance which will expressly prohibit the operation of medical marijuana dispensaries within the city.

While this proposed ordinance does not prohibit qualified patients from possessing or using medical marijuana as prescribed by a physician, it will prohibit legal patients from getting their prescriptions filled at regulated dispensaries within city limits. The number of patients in California who rely on medical marijuana for treatment continues to increase as physicians have expanded the use of marijuana to treat symptoms of diseases such as headaches, spinal injuries, cancers, heart disease, arthritis, anorexia and depression.

In 1996, California voters approved Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act, which allows for the safe and affordable distribution of marijuana to all patients in medical need of marijuana. As of October 2006, 26 cities and seven counties in California have enacted ordinances to allow for the operation of dispensaries with stringent regulations in place to ensure both the protection of the community and meet the medical needs of legal patients.

Interestingly, additional regulations and police presence have prompted residents in Kern County, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Oakland, and Santa Rosa to report safer street environments with fewer drug-related problems than before the dispensaries operations were permitted within the area. I believe that local government does have a responsibility for the legitimate and legal medical needs of residents by providing patients with a safe means of acquiring prescription marijuana.

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