Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Sunday, May 18, 2008

On Medical Marijuana: Judge Candidate and Senior County Prosecutor John MacKinnon

Again thank you for the allowing me to answer this question... it has been asked of me several times during the campagain.

In response to your question about medical use of marijuana..... in 1996 voters in California passed the Compassionate Use Act. This act is now part of section 11362.5 of the Health and Safety Code which states in the statute that its goal is:

"To ensure that seriously ill Californians have the right to obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes where that medical use is deemed appropriate and has been recommended by a physician who has determined that the person's health would benefit from the use of marijuana in the treatment of cancer, anorexia, AIDS, chronic pain spasticity, glaucoma, arthritis, migraines, or other illness for which marijuana provides relief."

As to the legalization of marijuana in general... that is also a decision to be made by the legislature or by the People of California. A Superior Court Judge or Appellate Court Justice does not decide on whether a stature is "good law" or "bad law", so long as it is Constitutional.

As a Judge of the Superior Court, my mandate and duty is to follow the law as it is written...... again so long as it does not violate the Constitution. The decision to make the use of any substance legal or illegal, and/or the permitting of marijuana dispensaries is to be made by the Legislature, the city council, or the people by way of Propositions. Therefore, a Judge must respect and follow the law regardless of whether he personally approves or disapproves of the policy being made by our lawmakers.... all while being detached and neutral. The People of the State of California have declared the medicinal marijuana use is not a crime under state law if a medical doctor has recommended its use. The Compassionate Care Act also stated that recreational use of marijuana shall continue to be illegal. This is the law that I am required to follow.

Let me say though that marijuana is not an epidemic facing our county and community the way that methamphetamine and other drugs are. I have served for the last 18 months in our Substance Abuse Treatment Court where we see the ravages of substance abuse. We see pregnant mothers who inject methamphetamine, college students who are addicted to heroin, and young people who are look as if their very life force is being drained from their bodies. I have worked in this therapeutic system to help people get their lives together. I have seen first hand the miracles that can occur.... the former pregnant mother who gives birth to a clean baby, the parent who gets her children back from CPS, the young man who re-enrolls himself back into school and his life on track. These are the stories of hope and change that I am able to see..... as well as the tragedy.

When I first came to the Substance Abuse Treatment Court we only had approximately 20 people in the treatment program. In less than two years we have been able to get those numbers to almost 80. In Santa Maria we also have over 300 drug users in our Prop 36 treatment program. I am proud that former addicts/turned counselors ask me for bumper stickers, yard signs, ect.... These former addicts want to see me on the bench to continue to work that we do everyday. That really is the greatest endorsement.... recovered drug users who are supporting a D.A. for Judge.... I think it really shows that you can be a D.A. and still be compassionate and care for people in our community.


John MacKinnon
Candidate for Superior Court Judge

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Blogger Happy Programmer said...

A well thought out reply. I too have seen the havoc caused by meth addiction, and MacKinnon nails it. My cousin's children no longer have a mother as meth claimed their mother. She's physically alive but she's no longer all there.

Here in Goleta I was surprised at how rampant the problem is, in some streets every other house is affected. People you would never suspect are involved.

Marijuana is a side issue. In fact I have seen how cops slap meth users on the wrist while caring more about marijuana usage, mainly because it's difficult to deal with a violent, addicted meth abuser vs a kid smoking marijuana. I honestly think we don't pay our police officers enough to deal with meth addicts but that's another issue. :)

On the other hand I like how John MacKinnon recognizes state medical marijuana laws. He has his priorities straight.

Very inspiring! Thanks Mr. McKinnon. I appreciate your refreshing honesty, no matter which way you come down on the issues.

5/18/2008 1:26 PM  
Anonymous Lawn Mower said...

The "medical" marijuana shop in our neighborhood affected every single surrounding household too with increased crime, vagrants, loitering, double parking, trash, litter, noise and blight. None of this is a good thing.

5/18/2008 6:22 PM  
Blogger Happy Programmer said...

"The "medical" marijuana shop in our neighborhood affected every single surrounding household too with increased crime, vagrants, loitering, double parking, trash, litter, noise and blight. None of this is a good thing."

It isn't a good thing to happen next to homes. That should have never been allowed. In Holland only coffee shops can dispense marijuana and those are highly regulated - the government tends to cluster them into one area away from residential areas. That way the police can regulate one area vs many areas around town.

Also, there needs to be a state-wide ID of some sort and more controls. Right now it's the wild west but it will get better after people like you raise concerns.

5/18/2008 8:49 PM  
Anonymous Ronald St. John said...

In previous comments both "Happy Programmer" and "Lawn Mower" reflect a singular lack of knowledge about marijuana and the effects of a medical marijuana dispensary. Of course a dispensary should not be in a residential neighborhood and to the best of my knowledge none in SB was ever so located. I also notice that both McKinnon and HP quickly move the queston to methamphetamine which, of course, has its own problems. They are not as great as HP and McKinnon would have us believe but there are problems and those problems are mostly exacerbated by drug warriors and those who have been brainwashed by them. But I digress. Concerning marijuana, there are only two types of people who believe there is a valid reason for marijuana prohibition to adults. They are 1) Law Enforcemnet bureaucrats and others who make their living from the prohibition and 2) those sad and uninformed people who have never taken the time to learn the facts about marijuana. Those facts are compelling and easily available to any interested person. Wild west indeed!
Ronald St. John
Santa Barbara

5/19/2008 10:32 AM  
Anonymous Lawn mower said...

Ronald, you are the one who needs to do your homework. ACME marijuana dispensary was located smack dab in the middle of a residential neighborhood with kids playing on the sidewalks right next door.

The marijuana fumes bellowing out the open windows all day long was bad enough, but the total crime and blight this business brought to this family neighborhood was egregious. Don't kid yourself.

This place was known throughout the south coast as the easiest place to score dope and the streets were overwhelmed with double parked cars and loiterers hanging out to share dope with the "patient" who may well have gotten his prescription from the fly-by-night "doctors" advertising in the Independent.

Wake up and smell the lawn mower. DEA did the right thing busting this travesty. If you want your dope for "medical" reasons, see a doctor and get a prescription for a licensed and regulated drug.

You sound like an alcoholic who claims they are just "wine connaiseurs".

Add a third type to your list: those who don't want this crap in their neighborhoods and see if for what it is worth - a total scam tarted up as a compassionate fraud. And that does not come from misinformation. It comes from hard earned experience. Dry your crocodile tears because experience has taught this neighborhood a totally different lesson.

5/20/2008 7:15 AM  
Blogger Happy Programmer said...

"Ronald St. John" - you are turning a blind eye to real problems with medical marijuana dispensaries while "Lawn mower" is doing the opposite. The problem is with the implementation, I fear both of you are getting off track. One side turns a blind eye to problems, the other sees nothing but problems, the truth is somewhere in the middle.

I respect marijuana legalization, I saw first hand how this works in Holland while living there for a few years. But this has nothing to do with judges who interpret law, they do not make law, only SB city and a few other cities have decriminalization right now. I suggest reading about the Hinchey Amendment to the Fiscal Year 2008 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 3093) which would stop federal drug raids, our Lois Capps is trying to get that passed.

We have the right of state's rights for a reason - it helped fight the slave harbor laws where the south forced the federal government to crack down on northerners harboring slaves. Juries stood up to that, using jury nullification to stop this unjust federal use of power. The same can be applied here - cracking down on medical marijuana is unjust. We have a duty to use state's rights here and judges play an important role.

The key here is to be practical and work within the confines of our system.

5/21/2008 1:35 PM  
Anonymous Lawn mower said...

"Cracking down" (what a quaint term) on medical marijuana is entirely appropriate. This is a crime-riddled scam.

The medical profession is the only way to deal with "medical" marijuana. Get it at a pharmacy or grow your own for your "personal" use. It is the very "medical" customers who have blatently abused this scheme, as well as making it a crime magnet for every neighborhood it affects.

You just want cheap, easy dope and trash the community in the process. The Dutch example is no example for cheap, easy drugs.

The licensed, regulated, professional medical model is the only model to look for for "medical" marijuana. And that means going back to your doctor every six months to renew your prescription and for medical monitoring of your "medical" situation.

If you weren't so afraid of having your "medical" fraud exposed, you would find using professional medical services appropriate and the exclusive way of treating your "medical" condition.

5/22/2008 7:31 AM  

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