San Francisco Ballot Measure Would Ask City Officials to Study Program to Cultivate Medical Marijuana
San Francisco supervisors on Monday voted to place a measure on the November ballot that could make San Francisco the first city in the nation to cultivate medical marijuana for distribution to residents with a recommendation from a physician, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The ballot measure, drafted by Supervisor Mark Leno, would call on city officials to examine a program to cultivate medical marijuana for distribution to patients with chronic diseases such as cancer and AIDS, although the measure would not establish the program. The Board of Supervisors and the mayor would have to enact separate legislation to establish the program, the Chronicle reports (Gordon/Lelchuk, San Francisco Chronicle, 7/23). Under Proposition 215, a ballot measure approved by California voters in 1996, patients with chronic diseases can use medical marijuana to treat pain. The state Supreme Court last week ruled that residents who cultivate or use medical marijuana with a physician's recommendation are protected from state prosecution under the law (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/22).
'Frustration' with DEA
Leno said he drafted the ballot measure "out of frustration with the Drug Enforcement Administration's determination to close down" clubs that distribute medical marijuana in the state (San Francisco Chronicle, 7/23). Federal law prohibits the cultivation, distribution or possession of marijuana (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/16). "If the federal government insists on standing in our way locally, we must take matters into our own hands and protect the lives of our community members and protect their right to access life-saving medicine," Leno said. Dr. Mitchell Katz, director of the San Francisco Department of Public Health, added, "What it would show is that San Francisco is a compassionate place, trying to make sure that an effective therapy is in place for the people who need it." Although California Attorney General Bill Lockyer (D) has not taken a position on the ballot measure, he has supported Proposition 215 and has "left its implementation to the discretion of cities and counties," the Chronicle reports. Last year, San Francisco officials declared the city a "sanctuary" for the use, cultivation and distribution of medical marijuana, and the city public health department has issued about 3,700 identification cards over the past two years to patients who use medical marijuana and their caregivers (San Francisco Chronicle, 7/23).