This week, the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted not to allow marijuana dispensaries within unincorporated areas of the county for up to a year. That same day, the City of Victorville took a similar action.
These actions are taking place more and more as a result of Proposition 215, which, under state law, allows marijuana use if “recommended” (not prescribed) by a physician.
As part of his “hope and change” agenda, President Barack Obama, the country’s chief law enforcement officer, has vowed not to enforce federal laws in California pertaining to marijuana.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court turned away an attempt by San Bernardino and San Diego counties to not be forced into issuing medical marijuana identification cards on the grounds that doing so could be in violation of federal law.
The laws being what they are, San Bernardino County is now forced to adhere to the state requirement to hand out medical marijuana cards on behalf of the state.
But now, the question of allowing medical marijuana dispensaries comes front and center.
Ventura County and cities like Victorville, Anaheim, Cotati, Dixon, Simi Valley and even one of the most liberal counties in California, Santa Cruz, currently have moratoria on the approval of medical marijuana dispensaries.
Two cases addressed by the Supreme Court have ruled that medical marijuana is not a necessity. See [United States v. Oakland Cannabis Buyers’ Cooperative and Jeffery Jones (52 U.S. 483 May 1991)] and Raich and Monson v. Ashcroft (352 F. 3d. 1222, 1228). In these cases, federal enforcement was allowed in states that have compassionate-use laws similar to Proposition 215.
I happen to believe that just because the federal government has chosen not to enforce anti-marijuana laws, that doesn’t necessarily mean that local governments must follow the federal government’s bad example in making marijuana distribution more convenient by default.
Problems identified in places like Anaheim, where the police conducted a very thorough and exhaustive study on the local effects of marijuana dispensaries, cannot be dismissed by any responsible representative in this state. Businesses surrounding these dispensaries have packed up and left after the increase in crime and the smell of marijuana were too much for them and their patrons to tolerate. Also noted in the study are increased access to marijuana by children, increased sale of other illegal drugs at or near these dispensaries, and increases in burglaries and robberies in the vicinity of these dispensaries.
Any responsible official must address the increase in crime and the exposure of children to these businesses before they can be allowed in a community.
Finally, there are no credible studies demonstrating the medical benefits of marijuana. The Food and Drug Administration’s pure drug standards do not endorse marijuana, and the California and American Medical Associations both oppose the use of marijuana as a medical option. As the Anaheim study concludes, “there are only a few medical doctors who support marijuana’s medical use.”
The primary ingredient in marijuana, THC, influence the cannabinoid receptors that affect memory, thought, concentration, time and sensory perception and coordinated movement. That’s in addition to exaggerated side effects similar to smoking tobacco. The case against marijuana is made easiest when the mental abilities of a lifelong marijuana smoker are observed.
In 1985, the FDA approved Delta 9 Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), known as Dranobinol, a synthetic THC, and made it available in a legal drug form that can be controlled much easier than in a marijuana dispensary or when pot is grown at home. This synthetic THC retains its consistency in strength and quality, since it can be monitored by the FDA.
While county staff may recommend allowing dispensaries under very strict conditions in the coming months, I will not vote for regulations allowing marijuana dispensaries in the county’s unincorporated areas, and I will encourage cities to do the same.
There are plenty of cities and counties that will allow dispensaries in this state, and Prop. 215 allows people to grow huge amounts of pot in their own homes with a doctor’s “recommendation.” So I see no need to allow dispensaries in San Bernardino County.
In fact, I will take this argument one step further. While many ill people believe their symptoms can be alleviated by smoking marijuana (and I don’t doubt them in many cases), the political movement behind legalizing medical marijuana is the same movement that seeks to legalize the drug for recreational use.
I am loath to use my position as an elected official to enable people to violate federal law and advance the cause of legalizing pot for recreational use.
Finally, I should clarify my belief that the real victims in this controversy are the people who feel that they need marijuana for medical conditions and who, even though the State of California says it’s O.K., will be put at increased risk of violating federal law for growing, possessing, distributing, buying or smoking pot. Those consequences will be theirs alone to face.
Like protecting our borders, this question of policy needs to be resolved by the federal government – not by refusing to enforce the law but by stepping up and showing leadership. This goes to the heart of good government: Either change the law or enforce it to the hilt. Then, if the people don’t support the law they can petition their government to get in changed.
When and if that day comes, I will uphold the legitimate, unambiguous law of the land in this area, as I am sworn to do.