A recent court case in San Diego has revealed some California police officers are basing their sworn court testimony in medical marijuana cases on badly outdated, legally inaccurate information.
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This goes a long way towards explaining why it is that so many law enforcement officers in the state still seem to harbor such personal animosity toward medical marijuana and those who use it, even after it's been legal in the state for 13 years. Above and beyond the seemingly eternal cop/pot dichotomy, the cops' own "medical marijuana training materials" tell them that -- contrary to the law -- there's no such thing as medical marijuana, and that all marijuana is illegal!
This misinformation has real-life consequences. Californians who legally use and provide medical marijuana are faced with hostile police and judges who have only heard or choose to believe information which is plainly wrong regarding medicinal pot's legal status here, and inaccurate regarding its effectiveness as medicine, as supported by thousands of doctors and hundreds of studies.
Eugene Davidovich, a San Diego medical marijuana provider who was arrested last February as part of Operation Green Rx (aka Operation Endless Summer), told me that the chief investigative officer in his case testified on the stand that he bases his expert testimony, as far as "medical marijuana training," on a handout from something called the Narcotic Educational Foundation of America, "Drug Abuse Education Provider of the California Narcotic Officers' Association."
In this toxic little screed, with the title Use of Marijuana As A "Medicine" (the quotes are theirs), we learn right off the bat -- in the first sentence! -- that "Marijuana, a plant from the cannabis family, is illegal and highly psychoactive." No mention of the fact that medical use of marijuana is legal, mind you -- and this in materials used to educate law enforcement officers.
I'll bet you thought that the issue of medical marijuana was settled when Proposition 215 was voted in back in 1996. Not so fast! You're just a civilian. The cops know better; and guess what? It sure looks as if the cops get to pick which laws they like, and which ones they want to ignore. "MARIJUANA IS NOT A MEDICINE," the "educational" pamphlet screams at its gun-toting, badge-wearing readers.
More than a decade after California voters spoke loudly and clearly on the topic, these folks just aren't giving up the pot culture wars. You'd think the "medical marijuana training" of law enforcement officers might include the rather pertinent fact of its legality -- you know, seems like that would merit at least a mention. Reading the sordid little hate-filled pamphlet, you keep expecting to eventually encounter some level-headed caveat for these eager officers, some kind of sensitivity training, some sort of warning that since marijuana is, in fact, legal in this state for medical use, that officers must be careful to protect the rights of patients. But it never comes.
"Many well-intentioned leaders and members of the public have been misled by the well-financed and organized pro-drug legalization lobby, into believing there is merit to their argument that smoking marijuana is a safe and effective medicine," the pamphlet informs officers. "There is no justification for using marijuana as a medicine."
Once the officers have been, er, "trained" as to the illegitimacy of medical marijuana, they are dutifully informed that it is just ever so immoral and icky as well. "We have seen first hand the debilitating and often tragic results, both psychologically and physically, of those who choose intoxication as a part of their lifestyle," the pamphlet laments in one particularly purple passage.
The pamphlet then attempts to cloak its (legally incorrect for California) estimation of marijuana's uselessness as medicine and its enormous moral judgments around the weed in some sort of scientific respectability by citing outdated studies, all of which have been since refuted by more modern findings.
"It is actually scary what goes on in court," Davidovich told me. "I really hope that somehow a stop can be put to this. This is one of the reasons I am so public about these hateful people. There are a lot of patients who are needlessly suffering here in San Diego."
By Steve Elliott
July 30, 2009
San Francisco Blog Weekly