Monday, April 16, 2007

Is OC Ready to Take the Lead on Medical Marijuana?

Dear Supervisors Nguyen, Moorlach, Campbell, Norby and Bates,

Please accept this note as a strong recommendation to approve the
medical marijuana i.d. program that will be presented to you this
coming Tuesday. [...]

Have some people taken advantage of the present medical marijuana
system and abused our trust? Of course. However, any system can be
and is abused. But that is not a reason not to maintain it. In
addition, of course, the People of the State of California passed
Prop. 215 back in 1996, so as a judicial officer it is embarrassing to
me that each county in our state has not long since established a
viable and enforceable medical marijuana program.
(H/T to Total Buzz)

So what the dealio here? Orange County Superior Court Judge Jim Gray is "strongly recommending" that the OC Board of Supervisors pass the medical marijuana issue in tomorrow's agenda. But will the Supes actually take Judge Gray's recommendation and run with it?

Well, one already has.

I must admit that I was surprised to see that County Supervisor Chris Norby supports the legal use of medical marijuana:

At our April 17 meeting, the Orange County Board of Supervisors will consider policy options on medical marijuana. The Board is forced to find a narrow overlap between the will of California voters and federal law.

In 1996, California voters approved Prop. 215, which legalized marijuana for medical purposes, provided such use was approved by a physician or primary caregiver. Nearly 60% of OC and state voters passed Prop. 215, but the law has been ignored by federal authorities, who continue to enforce a blanket ban against all marijuana usage, even for dying cancer and AIDS sufferers. [...]

I am sympathetic with both the will of California voters and those whose terminal condition involves extreme nausea, which marijuana can relieve. I have received numerous emails supporting an enlightened and humane County policy.

So is Norby the lone "voice of reason" here, or will the other Supes agree with him? Can the County of Orange agree to Prop 215, and comply with the controversial state law? And how would Orange County's new acceptance of medical marijuana affect neighboring San Diego County's effort to overturn the California law legalizing it? I guess we'll have to wait and see.

So will the conservative-leaning Orange County Board of Supervisors actually implement some progressive policy? Perhaps. Remember that many "conservatives" in Orange County have libertarian leanings, and they're not so keen on "big government" intruding upon individuals' rights. And perhaps, these folks in local government who hate "big government" somuch may finally agree to keep government out of people's decisions about their health and medicinal treatment.

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