To say that San Francisco mayor Ed Lee has been quiet about his stance on medical marijuana is a bit on an understatement. As SF Weekly points out, all attempts to get the politician to comment in the wake of the federal Justice Department’s shutdown of five city-licensed medical marijuana dispensaries, not to mention San Francisco’s on-and-off licensing program, have gone unanswered.
This has all changed, though, as Americans for Safe Access have garnered the following statement from the mayor:
“It is important that San Franciscans who need medicinal cannabis can have safe access to it – there are oncology patients, HIV/AIDS patients, and people with debilitating pain who rely on this medicine to treat their conditions. Public Health Director Barbara Garcia continually advises me that legitimate use by people with certain medical conditions is an effective way to treat pain and ease end-of-life suffering.
And since 1996, when Proposition 215 first passed, the State of California and our City have reaffirmed many times over our support of legitimate medicinal use for people with serious illness. That’s why I am concerned about recent federal actions targeting duly permitted Medicinal Cannabis Dispensaries, actions that aim to limit our citizens’ ability to have safe access to the medicine they need.
Time and time again, the President of the United States has made it clear that the Justice Department has more important priorities than working to prevent patients from accessing this medicine. As long as San Francisco’s dispensaries and patients are operating within the guidelines set by then-Attorney General Jerry Brown in 2008, I agree with our current Attorney General Kamala Harris that raids should not occur. She has said that ‘an overly broad federal enforcement campaign will make it more difficult for legitimate patients to access physician-recommended medicine in California.'”
Sure, there are no promises of action and the words of support are guarded at best, but this is still a major statement that Lee at least acknowledges that the recent federal closures both go against President Obama’s claim that medical marijuana was not a priority for the Justice Department and that the actions are a disservice to patients with legitimate medical marijuana needs. Whether this is just a jumping off point for more vocal support of safe access to medical marijuana in San Francisco remains to be seen, but for now, the cities dispensary employees, patients, and members of Americans for Safe Access all seem to be satisfied, at least temporarily.
Is Mayor Lee’s statement in the wake of recent federal action enough support for the medical marijuana movement? What should Mayor Lee do next to try to end these federal closures?