Despite what, by San Diego standards, could have been considered torrential rain, patients and supporters gathered in front of the City Attorney's office building in Civic Center Plaza yesterday, February 15th, for a vigil to mourn the death of Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act", which legalized medical marijuana for California patients over 15 years ago, at the hands of city officials.
The protest, orginally scheduled to begin at 4:20pm, was delayed by the traffic collisions on the San Diego freeways heading into downtown. By 5pm, however, more than 75 patients and supporters were in attendance, holding candles and signs, while chanting "Support Patients’ Rights!"
Various groups worked together to coordinate the vigil, including Citizens for Patient Rights (www.citizens4patientrights.org), the Cannabis Education Project (www.projectcannabis.org) and the Patient Care Association(www.pcaca.org).
"We are gathered here today, on 2/15, to mourn the death of medical marijuana access in San Diego City at the hands of the City Attorney's office which has sued every medical marijuana dispensary in the City and actively aided federal prosecution of patients and providers acting in full compliance of California State Law", stated James Schmachtenberger, Chair of the Patient Care Association, which helped organize the vigil.
"The crowd here today, despite the unfavorable climate, both from the weather and from Federal and City Officials, shows the support that exists in the community for safe access!" he continued.
"We are asking that the City do the right thing and support Proposition 215, which was approved by San Diego voters and is state law", added Jessica McElfresh, legal counsel to the Patient Care Association.
The employees and customers of the City Attorney's office streamed passed the protestors as they exited the Civic Center Plaza Building. While a few appeared annoyed with the protest, the majority of the reactions ranged from ambivalence to discreetly supportive.
At one point, three San Diego police officers approached the vigil, and the chant changed from "Support Patient Rights!" to "Don't let the cartel win! Support Regulated Safe Access!" The officers politely declined to sign the initiative for medical marijuana regulation in San Diego City, presented to them by the attendees of the vigil.
Citizens for Patient Rights representatives stated that more protests and visibility events will be planned for the upcoming months, to raise awareness of the City's role in eliminating safe access and to build support for the Compassionate Use Dispensary Regulation and Taxation Initiative, to allow zoning for medical marijuana dispensaries, which is currently in the process of gathering signatures to qualify for the November Ballot.