Tag Archives: Prop 215

Janet Nguyen: Embracing “Big Government”… Or Reelection?

Today at the Board of Supervisors meeting, the supes debated something that should be fairly noncontroversial — developing a policy so that sick people who use medical marijuana can be issued ID cards. Really, in a supposedly free society, is it that much to ask that people who can benefit from a little medical pot can use it without getting arrested? I stopped by the meeting for a short time, enough to hear the end of DA Tony Rackauckas’ lame-brained argument for ignoring Prop. 215. I also heard members of the public argue forcefully for allowing tragically sick people to get a little relief. […]

[The OC Board of Supervisors] voted 3-2 against Norby’s [original] proposal (Moorlach and Norby were on the losing end), but that Bill Campbell offered a compromise and that measure passed 4-1. Only Janet Nguyen voted “no.” [on both measures.] This is not a good sign if one has hopes of Nguyen being a supporter of limited and sensible government.

Steven Greenhut is pissed. The super hardcore libertarian-minded OC Register editorialist lambastes Supervisor Janet Nguyen on Orange Punch for voting against even considering issuing medical marijuana ID cards at yesterday’s Board meeting.

So is Janet Nguyen not a “true conservative”? Is she not libertarian-minded? Does she hate sick, dying patients? Or does she just have something else in mind? Follow me after the flip for more on this sordid tale of political posturing, heated controversy, and gravely ill people in the balance…

So what’s up with Janet? Well, we know what Greenhut thinks about it. However, Jubal/Matt Cunningham offers another view at Red County/OC Blog:

I’d give Janet’s vote a much more political reading. Barring a court decision unseating, Janet Nguyen is up for re-election in little more than a year. She only got 24.1% of the vote in an incredibly close and divisive campaign. She needs to more than double her vote share in order to avoid a November run-off. The impact of the Vietnamese vote — which was nuclear in the special election — will be much diluted in the June 2008 primary. The registration is split between Republicans and Democrats — and the latter have high hopes for re-capturing the seat. The more vulnerable she appears, the more challengers she may attract.

Consequently, Janet is going to view every vote through the prism of re-election and how it will affect her chances of securing it.

I think that’s the case with this vote: Janet voted no so she won’t get hit with “soft on drugs” mailers next year. Former Supervisor Cynthia Coad, got hit hard with such mail in the 1998 primary because when she was a community college trustee she had signed her name to some voluminous study that included (if I recall correctly) a recommendation to study decriminalizing marijuana. Coad made it into the November run-off, but it was close. That may have been on Janet Nguyen’s mind when she cast her votes today.

So who’s correct here? I say BOTH OF THEM!

Greenhut has a good point about Janet’s ideology. She probably doesn’t have much of one. She’s a fairly pragmatic person who always tries to “do the right thing”… But did she do the right thing in denying medicine to sick patients? Well, perhaps she thinks she is doing the right thing… TO WIN REELECTION NEXT YEAR!

Yep, Matt’s probably right that any possible opponents could have used a “Yes” vote to paint Janet as “pro-drug-abuse” and “soft on crime”. She now has to maintain a tricky balance of being conservative enough to hold onto most Republicans, moderate enough to swing some Democrats her way, “Vietnamese enough” to build a strong base in the Vietnamese-American community, and “Latino-friendly enough” to undo the damage from this year’s special election and begin wooing Latino voters to her side. I can see why she’d be wary of something that could bite back and hurt her among ANY of these voters.

But wait! Are we all just over analyzing Janet’s vote? Maybe Janet voted that way just because Janet wanted to vote that way. Maybe she just voted that way because she thought that Norby’s measure wasn’t the right thing to do at this time. Or at least, this is how Orange Juice blogger Art Pedroza sees it:

Did you try asking Janet why she voted this way? I did. She said that, as well all know, the federal government has not been playing along with the will of the voters on this issue, to say the least. That would be your boy Bush and his inept AG Gonzalez.

She also told me that a court in San Diego is considering a case that will establish a precedent in this area. It is wise in this case to wait and see what that court decides.

I did advise her to vote for it by the way, but Janet is her own person and she does try very hard to be fair and prudent on every issue.

Well, I know that Janet is one of the few Republicans that Art still likes. And perhaps he is seeing something that the rest of us are not. Maybe Janet voted that way just because she thought it was the best thing to do in such a difficult situation. But still, I doubt that this was the only thing on her mind. She’s certainly no saint. And she’s not a doctrinaire conservative. And she’s not a libertarian. And she’s not ready to help some very sick patients in need of treatment…
But one thing’s for certain. She’s running for reelection next year.

OC Board of Supes Says Maybe to Medical Marijuana

(Sorry about the technical difficulties yesterday… But here’s the final full account of what happened at the OC Board of Supervisors as they decided to take another 90 days to decide how to go forward in issuing medical marijuana ID cards. – promoted by atdleft)

After nearly four hours of heart-wrenching testimony, legal wrangling, political posturing, and attempts at compromise, the Orange County Board of Supervisors voted to direct staff to spend the next 90 days crafting a county policy on issuing ID cards to medical marijuana patients… Along with a study on how this would affect law enforcement AND a legal update on San Diego County’s lawsuit seeking to overturn Prop 215.

Follow me after the flip as I (FINALLY!!) fill you in with updates and reactions on today’s decision by the OC Board of Supes…

“Do the right thing, because it is the moral thing. It is the will of the voters.”
That was Catherine Smith, a medical doctor and self-described “fourth-generation Orange County resident and Republican” who testified in support of issuing medical marijuana ID cards.

“An ID card would definitely be useful…
I don’t know how the federal government can give me morphine, but take away my marijuana.”
That was Michael Gaughan, a military veteran diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma who has been treating his cancer with marijuana. The Fountain Valley police recently confiscated his medicine when they found him with it.

“I’ve never seen that. They were turned down. They ask for ID and a doctor’s recommendation.”
That was Thomas Pimintel, a disabled military veteran who was diagnosed as hypoglycemic, on how District Attorney Tony Rackauckas doesn’t know what he’s talking about when he says that it’s so easy to get “medical marijuana”.

“They don’t just hand out marijuana by the bucketful… It’s not going to just be a wild free-for-all.”
That was James Kapko, a multiple sclerosis patient and medical doctor who testified from his wheelchair about the many safeguards in the state’s medical marijuana laws.

So what happened after all these folks gave their impassioned testimonies of their personal hardships, and how cannabis has aided in the treatment of their debilitating diseases? Politics got in the way. Once public testimony ended, the political wrangling began.

Chris Norby made the motion to vote on his measure, but he had a difficult time finding support for it. Bill Campbell worried about the possible conflict between federal and state law. Janet Nguyen, on the other hand, felt that there was no conflict… Prop 215 is only meant to provide a defense against criminal charges, and NOT a directive for counties to facilitate the use of marijuana. John Moorlach, meanwhile, had more and more questions about how this policy would affect everything. And Pat Bates just wanted the county to propose studies to examine how this policy would affect everything. The original motion directing the county to set a policy on issuing medical marijuana ID cards failed on a 2-3 vote, with Norby and Moorlach voting in favor while Bates, Campbell, and Nguyen voted against it.

However after the initial vote failed, Campbell then proposed a “compromise measure”. He proposed that the Board vote again on directing county staff to develop a policy for issuing medical marijuana ID cards within 90 days to be further examined and possibly implemented in the near future… Except that this time, the measure would also have county staff study everything that Bates wanted further examination on, including how this would affect law enforcement and how this would affect cities which have banned marijuana dispensaries. And oh yes, this measure also proposed that county counsel provide the Board with a legal update on San Diego County’s lawsuit seeking to overturn Prop 215. And after more questions, more wrangling, and more waiting, the OC Board of Supes FINALLY agreed to this compromise measure on a 4-1 vote. Only Janet Nguyen voted “Nay” this time.

So how did all the medical marijuana patients and advocates who showed up to the meeting feel about the final outcome? Alexander Valentine, the Fullerton man who started it all, was fairly disappointed by the “Maybe” response from the Board. “They still didn’t do their job,” he said as he described to me how he was hoping that the county would just begin to comply with state law NOW.

However Bruce Cohen, of the OC Libertarian Party, felt differently. “First they said no, but now they’re open to it. It’s a victory,” he said as he reassured me and others that he and Norby’s crew will be spending the next 90 days convincing the other Supes that issuing ID cards is the best way to go. Norby himself said that he did not expect the Court of Appeals to overturn the San Diego Superior Court’s earlier ruling for the state and against San Diego County, and he also used this as another reason for his fellow Supes to join him in taking action on this.

So will the Orange County Board of Supervisors finally take action and begin issuing medical marijuana ID cards? I guess we’ll have to wait 90 days for that answer.

OC Board of Supes Considering Medical Marijuana Mesaure

“These people are desperate for help. It does not help everyone, but it should be an alternative… We need your help so these patients can get their needed treatment.”

That’s Anna Bryce, the Orange County registered nurse who coauthored Proposition 215 in 1996. Andactally, she wasn’t the only one to speak up about having the county comply with state law in issuing ID cards to patients using marijuana as medicinal treatment. Already, a dozen folks have spoken before the OC Board of Supervisors…
And only two of them spoke against today’s mesaure. And yes, one of them was District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, who described this measure as a “license to smoke marijuana wherever I want and whenever I want in Orange County, issued by the County of Orange”.

Stay tuned for more as the OC Board of Supes returns to session. Some pictures over the flip…