Pubdate: Mon, 16 Jun 2008
Source: Los Angeles Daily News (CA)
Copyright: 2008 Los Angeles Newspaper Group
Author: Jon Palmer


My health and my ability to lead a normal life are in  danger - from
my local police. Worse, they've  disregarded state law in order to do

Allow me to explain:

Living in constant pain has become a way of life for  me. I was born
with a rare genetic blood disorder  called Factor V Leiden
thrombophilia. The condition is  life-threatening and causes
spontaneous blood clotting  throughout every blood vessel in my body.
The clots  lead to acute and severe pain in my extremities.

The agony is so unbearable that at times I can't walk.

In order to manage this disease, I take 245  prescription pills each
week - including morphine to  ease the pain. The side effects of my
pain-management  regimen made living a semi-normal life impossible.
Besides the mental haze the high-dose morphine had me  in, it caused
constant nausea - until one of my  physicians suggested I try medical

The medical marijuana eased my pain without any adverse  side effects
and allowed me to significantly reduce my  morphine dosage.
Fortunately, California voters  approved Proposition 215 in 1996, and
10 years later,  Kern County enacted an ordinance allowing regulated
medical-marijuana facilities just outside my hometown  of

I came to rely on Nature's Medicinal - one of the local
medical-marijuana collectives - as a clean, legitimate  source for my
medicine. Most importantly, I felt safe  there. After all, these
facilities were legal under  state law, regulated by the county and
licensed by the Sheriff's Department.

I have always been aware that federal law treats  medical-marijuana
patients like common criminals, but  assumed that local law
enforcement officials would  respect the state laws that allow me to
treat my pain  in accordance with my doctor's advice. Sadly, I was

Last May, Bakersfield police officers and Kern County  sheriff's
deputies participated in a federal Drug  Enforcement Administration
raid on Nature's Medicinal.  They arrested my caregivers for
violations of federal  drug laws, disregarding the fact that they were
  operating in compliance with state and local law.

Shortly after the raid, other caregivers in the area  ceased
operations for fear that they too would suffer  the same fate. Faced
with the prospect of having to  immediately double my morphine dosage
and take to the  streets to find my medicine, I was devastated.

The most outrageous part of the ordeal is that local  officials used
state and municipal tax dollars to  arrest these individuals who were
in full compliance  with state and municipal laws.

Perhaps the local officers were not sure whether their  job was to
enforce state or federal law. If that was  the case, fortunately the
Fourth District Court of  Appeals has provided some pretty specific
guidance.  Last November, the court unanimously ruled, "it is not  the
job of the local police to enforce the federal drug  laws."

But federal officials seemingly don't like the fact  that the voters
and the Legislature have decided to  protect medical-marijuana
patients and caregivers from  state prosecution and want to circumvent
those laws.  Whatever the reason for their actions, it is clear that
voters in California never intended to pass a  medical-marijuana law
and then allow their tax dollars  to be used to undermine it.

Fortunately, there is a bill pending in the state  Assembly that would
provide clear direction to state  and local law enforcement in this
matter. AB 2743, by  Assemblywoman Lori Saldana, D-San Diego, would
make it  official policy that state and local law enforcement  are not
to willfully assist in federal attempts to lock  up patients and
providers who are acting in accordance  with state law.

Hopefully the Legislature will approve this sensible  legislation
before more patients like me are forced  into the streets to obtain
their medicine. Our votes  don't count for much if our tax dollars can
be used to  thwart the very laws we enact.

Jon Palmer writes from Bakersfield. 
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