In a medical-marijuana averse county, San Diego has been a trailblazer, convening a medical-marijuana task force in 2001 and establishing citywide medical-marijuana guidelines in 2003-and now a member of the City Council wants the city to formally oppose the county Board of Supervisors' refusal to implement a state law that says counties must provide identification cards for anyone with a valid doctor's recommendation to use marijuana.
In an Aug. 18 memo, City Councilmember Toni Atkins asked City Attorney Mike Aguirre for his opinion on whether the city can submit a brief asking Superior Court Judge William Nevitt to force the county to comply with state law.
"[T]he county's failure to implement state law is causing fear and suffering for people who are already dealing with pain and illness," Atkins wrote.
Aguirre told CityBeat that a vote of the City Council will determine whether he submits the brief.
Frowns all around
If you were looking for happy campers last Wednesday, it would have done you no good to check the media center at the Marine Corps base at Camp Pendleton-the reporters within were a frustrated bunch.
Told to arrive by 7 a.m., the journalists on hand to cover two pre-court-martial hearings for two young Marines accused of murdering a 52-year-old local in Hamdania, Iraq, puttered around until about 10:30, when one of the two hearings was set to begin. They loitered in the media center, a large room equipped with flat-screen TVs, because only one reporter was allowed in each of the courtrooms.
If that weren't enough, they soon learned that the Marines had put Pfc. John Jodka in the smaller courtroom-the one not equipped to broadcast into the media center-while the hearing for Cpl. Marshall Magincalda was held in the larger room. Problem was, there was greater media interest in the Jodka hearing because, unlike the Magincalda hearing, witnesses were scheduled to testify, meaning actual news would be made. Additionally, Jodka's a local boy from Encinitas.
Much grousing ensued. A petition was even delivered, asking for the hearings to be swapped. To no avail. Reporters were forced to get information from the Jodka hearing secondhand through Linda Deutsch of the Associated Press, the scribe voted in to the courtroom by the assembled journalists.
On Wednesday, Lt. Col Sean Gibson could not say why Jodka's hearing wasn't being broadcast. CityBeat tried to reach the media center later with repeated follow-up phone calls, but the phone just rang and rang. Some reporters speculated that perhaps Jodka's lawyers had requested the smaller facility-they had expressed grave concerns about whether their client would get a fair court-martial hearing, what with the intense pre-trial media coverage.
But defense attorney Joseph Casas said no, the Marines made the call. "We were fully prepared for a large media presence," he said. "For the most part, I was happy with the AP's reporting of it. She did miss some points that were covered in the hearing, and I wonder whether a larger media presence would have been able to more accurately capture everything."
But Tony Perry of the Los Angeles Times said he "wasn't overly bothered by what happened. While I would have preferred the Jodka hearing to be on TV, the pool arrangement proved workable.
"Remember, too," he added, "that we're at the beginning of what promises to be a long process.... The Marines have promised openness and, so far, despite the Jodka thing, have followed through. I wouldn't judge them too harshly after one day. We're still in pre-season; it's a long time to the Super Bowl."
The Marines have yet to decide whether to seek court martial for any of the eight accused.
-David Rolland and Eric Wolff