The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors will meet in closed session June 2 to discuss its next plan of action following the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal to hear its joint lawsuit challenging California’s medical marijuana law.
“I assume the board, in its judicious manner, will issue a decision forthwith,” said Burt Southard, spokesman for Board Chairman Gary Ovitt, on Thursday.
On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a joint lawsuit filed in 2006 by San Bernardino and San Diego counties, that argued they didn’t have to comply with the state law, passed in 2004, because the federal ban on marijuana pre-empted the state law.
With all legal avenues exhausted, the county is now in a position to open the door to medical marijuana dispensaries and issue identification cards to legitimate medical marijuana patients.
“You can’t hide behind the skirts of the federal government and say, `We don’t have to do this anymore,”‘ said Palm Springs resident Lanny Swerdlow, addressing the Board of Supervisors at their Tuesday meeting.
Swerdlow is the director of the Marijuana Anti-Prohibition Project, an Inland Empire-based medical marijuana patient support group and law reform organization.
“You all along said you were filing this lawsuit not because you were so opposed to medical marijuana, but because you wanted guidance. Well, you’ve now got the guidance,” Swerdlow told the board Tuesday.
He said his group is meeting at 7:30 p.m. tonight at his THCF Medical Clinic, 647 Main St., Riverside, for an emergency planning meeting, and that anyone seeking more information can call (760) 799-2055.
“We’re going to go after these cities that have passed bans and moratoriums,” Swerdlow said. “Our local officials must now enforce state law.”
He said the major thrust of the effort is to ensure that that legitimate medical marijuana patients have “safe, reliable and affordable access to their medicine.”
Fifth District Supervisor Josie Gonzales said she’s not opposed to the medicinal use of marijuana and is poised to give the green light to issuing identification cards to patients.
She concurs with medicinal marijuana advocates that the drug allows patients to reduce myriad pains including those rheumatism and those endured by cancer patients from the side effects of chemotherapy.
“It becomes a lifesaver,” Gonzales said. “It would seem to me that many of us would take that choice and be grateful for it.”
Advocates who appeared at Tuesday’s board meeting told stories of their plight, both medically and in obtaining their medical marijuana.
Wanda Smith, 58, of Phelan, said marijuana has enabled her to endure the pain of a failing liver and kidneys, and she has been able to wean herself off of harder medications including Vicodin, Oxycontin and morphine by using marijuana.
“We have to have our I.D. cards. We are not criminals,” she said.
Despite her acknowledgment as to the benefits of medicinal marijuana, Gonzales still stresses the importance of proceeding with caution.
“I’m in no way of the mind-set to support that this become a freewheeling type of situation where it’s come one, come all,” Gonzales said. “There must be order. There must be a process by which we approach this.”
It will likely be one of the key concerns not only for Gonzales but for the rest of the board when they gather June 2 in closed session.
“And we will be able to begin to formulate where everyone’s logistic comfort zone is as we move forward,” Gonzales said.