Saturday, June 13, 2009

Supreame Court Rebuff Allows Sale of Medical Marijuana in San Bernardino County... (The Press Enterprise, Wednesday, May 20, 2009)

BS Ranch Perspective:

What is up with the decision of the court to allow the Inland Empire of California to have the decisive use of the "Mary Jane" for medical use! This might be the start of the break down for the rest of the country, and the begining of the break down of the rest of the country to gain the use of the Medical sides of Marijuana for the rest of the United States! But isn't it great to know that it was the Inland Empire that gave the world the Hells Angles and now Medical Marijuana use!! 

BS Ranch

Supreme Court rebuff allows sale of medicinal marijuana in San Bernardino County

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03:11 PM PDT on Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Press-Enterprise

San Bernardino County residents previously unable to lawfully purchase marijuana for medicinal uses should soon be able to do so after the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear challenges to the state's medical marijuana law.

"The Supreme Court is the end of the road," said Allen Hopper, litigation director for the American Civil Liberties Union's Drug Law Reform Project. "There is no additional legal challenge left for the counties."

San Bernardino and San Diego counties had sued in San Diego County Superior Court three years ago contending that federal drug law trumps California law, therefore making the possession of marijuana in this state -- for medical or any other use -- illegal.

By refusing to hear the case, the court upheld lower-court rulings that rejected the counties' arguments.

Supporters say marijuana helps chronically ill patients relieve pain. Critics say the drug has no medical benefit and all use should be illegal.

California voters in 1996 decriminalized using marijuana for medicinal purposes, and the state Legislature passed a law seven years later spelling out regulations governing its use, including a requirement that counties issue ID cards to patients who have letters from their doctors confirming the medical need.

Riverside County has been issuing the cards ever since, county spokesman Ray Smith said by phone Monday.

Victoria Jauregui Burns, chief of the Riverside County Public Health Department's HIV program, said San Bernardino County residents cannot cross county lines to obtain ID cards because they must show proof of residence to obtain them.

Riverside County residents must also have a letter from a physician and pay a $153-a-year fee.

The county has averaged 350 applicants a year for the past three years, she said, but the volume of applicants has surged in recent months. Some 200 people have applied for the cards in the past three months.

Supervisors in San Bernardino and San Diego, and as many as seven other California counties that have been waiting for the Supreme Court to weigh in, will now consider issuing the ID cards.

San Bernardino County will not issue the cards at least until supervisors are briefed by their attorneys on June 2, county spokesman David Wert said.

The ACLU's Hopper said county supervisors need to understand the meaning of the decision, "so I have no problem with them taking a little bit of time for their lawyers to explain what the legal effect of the decision is."

On the other hand, he said, "It's not rocket science. The Supreme Court said that what the Court of Appeals did stands. The Court of Appeals threw out the counties' challenge."

Scott Bledsoe, of Crestline in the San Bernardino Mountains, said he doesn't trust the county to quickly begin issuing ID cards. He said he will lead as many as 50 medical marijuana proponents in a demonstration at today's supervisors meeting in San Bernardino to press for immediate action.

Bledsoe sued the county in January when it refused to issue him a medical marijuana ID, and he says Monday's Supreme Court decision "bolsters my suit.

"We were expecting, or hoping, that the Supreme Court would deny review of San Bernardino's case," Bledsoe said by phone. "We also assumed that they were going to continue obstructing, even after a ruling like that came down. I filed suit so we could get something going."

Fast Action sought

Aaron Smith, California policy director for the national Marijuana Policy Project, called on the two counties to act immediately.

"It's time for San Diego and San Bernardino counties to end their war on the sick and obey the law," Smith said in a news release Monday.

Tom Bunton, a senior deputy county counsel in San Diego County who argued the case on behalf of both counties, said he was disappointed with the Supreme Court decision, but that "I think it does" mean the end of the battle against California's medical marijuana law.

He said he will recommend that San Diego County supervisors begin issuing identification cards.

Hopper said the Supreme Court decision -- while unexplained by the court itself -- "really comes down to the sovereign right that the state has to decide for itself what its criminal laws are going to penalize or not penalize."

He said he is counting on the Obama administration to continue its hands-off policy on medical marijuana dispensaries in California, a sharp reversal from the Bush administration.

Reach Darrell R. Santschi at 951-368-9484 or

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