San Francisco Moves One Step Closer to Supporting Cultivation and Distribution of Medical Marijuana

Press Release February 3, 2004
Media Contact

Tony Newman at 212-613-8026 or Elizabeth Mendez Berry at 212-613 8036

Today, San Francisco moved one step closer to protecting patients’ access to medical marijuana. The city’s Office of the Legislative Analyst (OLA) released a groundbreaking report to the Board of Supervisors giving the green light to establish local cultivation and distribution collectives and cooperatives. The report presents various possibilities for city involvement, including grants for supplies and equipment and renting land at a discounted rate.

Today’s report is the result of Proposition S, passed by 62% of San Francisco’s voters in 2002. Prop S stated that “In light of the recent federal Drug Enforcement Agency crackdown on local medical cannabis clubs…; [the City should] explore the possibility of establishing a program whereby the City would grow medical cannabis and distribute it to patients attempting to exercise their rights under Proposition 215.”

“In passing Prop S, San Francisco voters wanted the city to find the best way to guarantee patients’ access to their medicine,” said Marsha Rosenbaum, Director of the San Francisco office of the Drug Policy Alliance. “This report is an encouraging first step. The vast majority of Californians support medical marijuana, and we look forward to working with the City and County to move ahead with these collectives.”

Hundreds of patients, caregivers, cannabis club owners and their supporters joined forces with the Drug Policy Alliance, Marijuana Policy Project, Americans for Safe Access and California NORML to push for the implementation of Proposition S. Following a year of Prop-S related community meetings and a positive City Services Committee hearing in September, the Office of the Legislative Analyst was directed to study the cooperative model used by the Wo/men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana (WAMM) in Santa Cruz and analyze the feasibility and ramifications of implementing such a model in San Francisco.

The OLA report states that with recent federal court rulings as well as the passage of SB 420 last year, which allows for patients’ collectives, there is now “greater legal flexibility for the establishment of non-profit medical marijuana collectives/cooperatives in San Francisco.”

In finding the WAMM model for collectives can lawfully be implemented in San Francisco, the report considered the recent decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Raich v. Ashcroft, which held that the federal government does not have jurisdiction within the Ninth Circuit (including San Francisco) to prosecute medical marijuana patients or their caregivers under the Controlled Substance Act in cases in which a person cultivates, dispenses, or possesses marijuana for personal medical purposes as recommended by their physician.

In discussing the role of the City in such efforts, the report points out that “City involvement would signal active support and legitimacy for medical marijuana, provide incentives for the formation of collectives/cooperatives in San Francisco, and could reduce the risk and cost of providing medical marijuana to chronic and terminally-ill patients in San Francisco.”

The federal government has chosen medical marijuana as the battleground for their war on drugs and it’s important that cities like San Francisco stand up and take the first step in protecting patients.

“San Francisco has a long standing commitment to medical marijuana and today marks a significant victory for the community.” Rosenbaum went on to say, “It is now up to the City government to work closely with patients and caregivers to put this plan into practice.”

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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