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.

"You've now got the guidance," said Lanny Swerdlow, a registered nurse at the THCF Medical Clinic and Patient Center in Riverside. "The Supreme Court has made it very clear you don't have a leg to stand on."

He and other supporters said they were encouraged by Gonzales' comments.

Jim Lindley, the county's director of public health, said if the board agrees to proceed with an identification card program, his department will issue them.

Wanda Smith, a Phelan resident who has been prescribed cannabis for ailments including fibromyalgia and pancreatitis, said she's exasperated by the delays and difficulties she and other patients have faced.

"We have to have our ID cards," she told the board. "We're not criminals."

Reach Imran Ghori at 951-368-9558 or ighori at