At a time when most Californians are mulling over whether to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on legalizing marijuana, some California residents are still forbidden from using marijuana for medical purposes. Despite the passage of Proposition 215, over fourteen years ago, there are two counties in California that do not issue medical marijuana cards (Sutter and Colusa). Unlike most state medical marijuana programs, where the cards are issued at the state level, California operates at the county level. This bureaucratic structure was originally designed to benefit medical marijuana patients by allowing counties to set higher cultivation and possession limits. However, the same rule that was designed to help patients is currently hurting patients in Sutter and Colusa counties.
The Sutter County Board of Supervisors rejected a plan earlier this week, which would have implemented a reasonable plan to start issuing medical marijuana cards to patients. The plan was endorsed by local Sherriff J. Paul Barker. Jim Whiteaker, Larry Munger and Larry Montna voted to veto the plan. The decision shocked local activists. "It never occurred to us that it would reach that place," admitted Dale Gieringer, of California NORML. "To be honest, we're disappointed in this decision. It really leaves the residents of Sutter County hanging high and dry compared to everybody else in the state."
Aaron Smith, of the Marijuana Policy Project, said, "It's absolutely outrageous; they clearly have no respect for the taxpayers who will foot the bill for a lawsuit (the county) can't win. They're sworn to uphold the state constitution and they turn their backs on it. It's like an act of civil disobedience, which has its place – but not among officials running a county government." There are currently no plans from the State of California to take action against the county. However, a lawsuit may be in looming.
“They’ve dragged their feet an awful long time…The state constitution gives them no power to not enact the program," said Juston Purcell of the ‘Yuba-Sutter Medical Cannabis Alliance. "In doing so they are bringing in their personal views rather than enacting the law, and it's a possible grounds for recall. They have the obligation to obey this regardless of their personal views on medical marijuana."
Board Supervisor Jim Whiteaker claimed the issue revolves around funding. "Even though this is state law and California says we have to do this, they ought to be taking the burden of issuing these cards," Whiteaker said. “Why do we have to pay the state a fee if they're not willing to run this program?" Some conspiracy theorists think the funding argument is just a cover for the true motive; Jim Whiteaker doesn’t believe in the medical benefits of marijuana.
Not everyone was disturbed by the decision. Dick Boundy, who is challenging Larry Munger for his 3rd District seat, said, "I was surprised, to say the least, that the board actually had the strength and courage of character to say 'No, we don't want it.’ I assumed it would pass and was very pleased it did not." Someone needs to make sure that Munger and Boundy both lose. Munger has already shown that he will vote against the will of the people, and with the comment provided by Boundy, I think it’s easy to see why his first name is Dick…
Maybe people should vote for Horacio Paras, who said, "It's required by law and we need to make sure our county is in compliance, but personally, I do have a problem with marijuana and drug use in general. But if we need to follow (state) law, then I would support that." It sounds like Mr. Paras has more logical reasoning skills than his fellow competitors! Almost every day I hear a politician say that they do not like marijuana; it’s very rare to hear a politician say that they will respect the fact that not every agrees with them.
Contact the Sutter County Board of Supervisors by clicking here and scroll to the bottom of their page. Feel free to tell them how you feel, even if you don't live in Sutter County!