Never a city where rising conservative tides matter one whit, San Francisco Tuesday once again demonstrated that it is willing to go its own way no matter what the mood of the rest of the nation. Angered by the federal assault on medical marijuana patients and providers in California, the city's Board of Supervisors placed on the ballot a measure, Proposition S, which asked citizens to decide whether to urge the city government to grow and distribute its own medical marijuana. By a margin of 63% to 37%, San Franciscans told the city's leaders to move ahead.
In a city where 4,000 people are enrolled in a municipal medical marijuana ID card program, the supply of medical marijuana is an issue that resonates. With some providers now facing lengthy prison sentences on federal manufacture charges and some dispensaries shutting down for fear of the same, the provision of medical marijuana has become an increasingly urgent issue. Now the city has a clear signal from voters to start looking seriously at growing its own.
Supervisors who supported Proposition S wrote that the city "will do whatever it takes to protect the health and well-being of its citizens." The measure "shines a light on an outdated and scientifically unsound federal medical cannabis policy for the entire world to see," they added. "The will of the voters of California and eight other states must be respected."
The loneliest man in San Francisco disagreed. "We think it sends the wrong message to the country as a whole that the city of San Francisco will get into the business of growing marijuana," DEA San Francisco spokesman Richard Meyer told Agence France Presse -- the only news service or newspaper to file a report on the measure. "The US Congress has not rescheduled marijuana which remains a Schedule 1 substance with no acceptable medical use and a high potential for abuse," said Meyer. "We will uphold these laws."
Now the city of San Francisco will ponder its next move. Actually growing medical marijuana would set the city up in a direct confrontation with the Ashcroft Justice Department -- and that's just fine with some activists. In fact, they would like to see the state of California take up the challenge and start providing medical marijuana itself. "The state should be supporting voters and patients by taking the risks on themselves to go up against the feds, and it lays down the gauntlet for the state to do something," Hilary McQuie, campaign coordinator for Americans for Safe Access, told AFP.