On January 20, San Diego’s Board of Supervisors filed a lawsuit against the state of California, claiming that California’s medical marijuana law conflicts with federal law and should be overturned.
This action is against the wishes of an overwhelming majority of San Diegans. According to a January poll commissioned by the Marijuana Policy Project, 67 percent of San Diegans support California’s medical marijuana law, and 70 percent said the county should follow state law and implement the medical marijuana ID program. 78 percent said that the county shouldn’t sue to overturn the state’s medical marijuana law, and 62 percent indicated that they would be less likely to re-elect their supervisor if he or she voted in favor of the lawsuit.
Medical marijuana patient Rudy Reyes refused to stand idly by and allow the county supervisors to attack the law that protects him and thousands of patients like him, and -- with the help of MPP and Americans for Safe Access -- he’s fighting back.
Reyes has third-degree burns on 75 percent of his body from the 2003 southern California cedar fire and is plagued every day with intense pain, sleeplessness, and muscle contractions. He relies on marijuana-based topical creams, which alleviate his pain and prevent his skin from drying up and cracking into open sores.
With the support of MPP and Americans for Safe Access, Reyes, along with retired nurse Claudia Little and San Diego resident Dwight Filley, filed an initiative to limit the county supervisors to two terms in office, effective retroactively. Since each member of the board has already served at least two full terms, this initiative is a major threat to the political power and security that the supervisors currently have. MPP and ASA expect to begin gathering signatures in mid-February; people interested in helping in this effort should visit www.mpp.org/CA for information.
"Politicians shouldn't interfere with the medical decisions that my doctors and I make," Reyes said. "It's a relief to know that county voters support patients, and the Board of Supervisors should listen to the people who elected them."
Meanwhile, the board refuses to listen and is pushing forward with its lawsuit. But make no mistake about it: According to the U.S. Constitution, the federal government can ban medical use of marijuana if it wants to, but it cannot force states to do the same, and it cannot criminalize the actions of states such as California that choose to allow medical marijuana under state law.
The suit is wrong morally, politically, and legally. Morally, the supervisors are putting the sick and wounded on the front lines of the “War on Drugs.” Politically, the clear majority of voters do not approve of the supervisors’ choice to sue the state. And legally, the state of California has not broken any federal laws by implementing the medical marijuana law. It’s simply a matter of time before the court throws out the suit altogether – and before San Diego voters do the same to their county board.
Rebecca Greenberg is assistant director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project, www.mpp.org.