While medical-marijuana opponents have District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis leading their posse, San Diego's safe-access community has once again turned to the San Diego County Civil Grand Jury to investigate the government on its behalf.
At least two complaints have been filed with the official body that investigates local government on behalf of citizens, and CityBeat has confirmed the jury has called at least one medical-cannabis supporter in for an interview. Badge-bearing jury members reportedly have been spotted in the audience at the city of San Diego's Medical Marijuana Task Force meetings.
Grand Jury proceedings are confidential, and foreperson Victoria Stubblefield could not confirm what the jury was investigating.
Patient and aspiring collective operator Marcus Boyd provided CityBeat with a copy of the complaint he filed with the jury within days of the Sept. 9 raids of 14 dispensaries in San Diego County. Boyd specifically targets Dumanis, accusing her of using “televised shock and awe enforcement tactics to effectively harass and terrorize the seriously ill and dying patients.”
Boyd received a letter acknowledging the jury received his complaint but has not been contacted since. Attorney and Southern California NORML board member Mara Felsen told CityBeat she accompanied another complainant to jury interviews, though she was not allowed to sit in.
Unlike Boyd's targeted attack on Dumanis, Felsen said her client was posing more of a “policy issue and a question.”
“How is one to know what is legal and illegal, what dispensaries can do and what they can't do?” Felsen said. “These are very clear, very basic questions of law. If an agency is enforcing the law, the law has to be clear so the public can follow it. Otherwise, it violates the due-process laws of the Constitution.”
In 2005, the jury concluded a previous investigation into medical-marijuana policy with a 58-page document slamming the county for doing “absolutely nothing” to promulgate protocols and procedures for providing patients with safe access to cannabis. Although the jury has subpoena powers, its findings—which can take a year to complete—have no enforcement teeth.
“We make recommendations and then, of course, [it's up to] public pressure to implement those recommendations,” Stubblefield said. “We have found the people in the city and county are good people who want to make agencies more successful and work better for the community and the citizens, and there's an effort to bring positive change. That's what it's about: good positive change.”
In the meantime, Boyd is stoking the pressure with a new website, bonniedamantis.wordpress.com, which includes a clearinghouse of legal information, the “San Diego Electronic Prohibition Tracking & Information Collection System.”
“The SEPTIC system was born out of the need to provide the medical-marijuana community with a central location to track the efforts to deny safe access in San Diego County,” Boyd said.
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