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California: Field Poll Shows Majority of Voters Favor Marijuana Legalization

CaliforniaCannabisHempInitiative

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

California voters favor marijuana legalization, according to a new poll released December 10.

Field Poll results show that 55 percent of Californians now favor legalization, a first since the poll began asking about marijuana back in 1969. In that first poll in 44 years ago, 75 percent of state residents wanted cannabis laws strictly enforced, or even toughened, reports Richard K. De Atley at the Riverside Press-Enterprise.

Just 31 percent of voters now support strict enforcement of current laws or passing tougher ones, according to the new poll. Another 12 percent wants to keep pot illegal, but lessen the penalties, while 2 percent claimed they "had no opinion."

When respondents were read a summary of a proposed initiative to legalize cannabis in California for recreational use, 56 percent said they would support it, and 39 percent said they would be opposed. Five percent said they were undecided.

"You have just had a whole new reevaluation" of marijuana, according to Field Poll Director Mark DiCamillo. "What is different is that in 1969, there was a much more prevalent view that marijuana would lead to harder drugs and addiction."

Respondents have since then stopped considering marijuana with harder drugs. "That is probably the biggest single shift in attitudes toward marijuana," DiCamillo said.

California: Fewer Than Expected Apply For Medical Marijuana Cards In San Bernardino County

By IMRAN GHORI, The Press-Enterprise

There is a truth that must be heard! San Bernardino County's public health department has taken applications for medical marijuana identification cards from 128 people and provided 76 cards since it began the program in mid-August, a county official said.

The rest of the applications are still being processed by the state, which keeps a database of applicants and actually issues the cards, said Jim Lindley, county public health director

Only one application was rejected -- because the doctor's recommendation could not be verified, he said.

The county began accepting applications from medical marijuana patients Aug. 14 after county officials lost a three-year legal battle against the state program.

In May, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the county's challenge to the state's program, which it claimed conflicted with federal drug laws.

The county initially had estimated that 250 to 300 residents would seek cards, Lindley said.

The department saw a slowdown in applications after the first few weeks, he said.

Lindley said officials tried to make the process as smooth as possible, requiring applicants to make appointments by phone, advising them of the information they would need and then having them come in for quick interviews to review the applications.

"The process looks like it's working well," he said.

California: County Supervisor Says She Supports Medical Marijuana Program

By Imran Ghori, The Press-Enterprise

There is a truth that must be heard! A day after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the state's medical marijuana law, a San Bernardino County supervisor indicated Tuesday that she is ready to support the policy.

The Board of Supervisors is not scheduled to discuss its next step until June 2, but Supervisor Josie Gonzales told about 40 medical marijuana advocates it would be a top priority.

"I have long been a supporter of medical marijuana," she said.

Gonzales said she had committed to "step forward" after the legal debate was resolved and that she hopes the county has reached that point now.

Three years ago, San Bernardino and San Diego counties sued the state over a program approved by the Legislature in 2003 to regulate the medical marijuana law approved by state voters in 1996.

The counties contended that the state law, which sets standards for counties to review applications and issue medical marijuana user cards, conflicts with federal law that classifies marijuana as a dangerous drug with no medical purpose.

By refusing to hear the case, the Supreme Court upheld lower-court rulings rejecting those arguments.

Most other counties, including Riverside, already issue cards.

Advocates of medicinal use of marijuana, including several patients, told the San Bernardino County supervisors that it's time for the county to start issuing identification cards to patients who have letters from their doctors confirming their medical need.

CA: Attorney general's medical marijuana guidelines change little

By LORA HINES, The Press-Enterprise

Guidelines recently issued by the state attorney general have had little effect on the Inland's regulation of medical marijuana.

Last month, Attorney General Jerry Brown said licensed state cooperatives or less formal collectives are legal under California law. Operators of for-profit storefront dispensaries may be arrested and prosecuted, he said. Brown's opinion is nonbinding.

He issued the guidelines as the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors decided it would continue efforts to overturn the state's 2003 Medical Marijuana Program Act, also known as Prop. 215. The state has issued a little more than 23,500 medical marijuana cards since 2004, according to the California Department of Public Health.

Attorney General Jerry Brown's office says the guidelines clarify legal selling of marijuana.

Earlier this summer, the state's 4th District Court of Appeal in San Diego rejected claims by San Diego and San Bernardino counties that federal statutes outlawing marijuana pre-empt state law. The court also rejected San Bernardino County's argument that issuing medical marijuana identification cards violated the state's constitution.

San Bernardino County spokesman David Wert said Brown's opinion probably would not affect the county's decision to appeal.

"We're asking for clarification on the law," he said. "We're doing this on behalf of the sheriff's department. The county is prepared to abide by any law on the books. The Board of Supervisors has never taken a stance on medical marijuana or even on the cards."

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