Marijuana group claims San Diego County supervisors violated open government law

A marijuana advocacy group claims that in compliance with the Brown Act, the San Diego County supervisors should have announced their Aug. 26 closed-door decision to appeal a ruling on i.d. cards for medical marijuana patients to the Supreme Court. The supervisors said they had already gone on record in 2006 with their intent to appeal to the highest court should it be necessary. -DB

The Sun
Jan. 22, 2009
By Joe Nelson

SAN BERNARDINO – A marijuana advocacy group claims the Board of Supervisors violated the state’s open meeting law by failing to disclose publicly its decision to appeal its lawsuit challenging California’s medical marijuana law to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The nonprofit Marijuana Policy Project maintains that the board, at its Aug. 26 meeting, voted in a closed-door session to appeal its joint lawsuit with San Diego County to the state Supreme Court after a San Diego County judge ruled in favor of the state.

When the board returned to the dais to continue its meeting, it failed to mention its decision to those in attendance, the nonprofit alleges.

If the two counties prevail in their lawsuit, neither would be required to issue identification cards to legitimate medical marijuana patients.

The state Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal, so, the counties’ appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which received the case Jan. 12, county spokesman David Wert said. He said the county expects to learn of the court’s decision within 90 days.

Wert said the board did not violate California’s open meeting law, the Ralph M. Brown Act. He said when the two counties teamed up in 2006, it was with the understanding that the litigation would be appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. No further action was required, Wert said.

“They’re assuming . . . that the board took some action in that closed session, and there was no action taken,” Wert said.

Since September, the nonprofit has sent two letters to the District Attorney’s Office requesting an investigation, said Aaron Smith, California policy director for the Marijuana Policy Project.
The complaints are currently under review.

“If they find enough to look into they’ll open up an investigation,” said Susan Mickey, spokeswoman for the District Attorney’s Office.

If an investigation is launched, the county will be completely vindicated, Wert said.

“The DA’s office will quickly find that there was no violation of the Brown Act,” Wert said.

In response to allegations that the lawsuit is a waste of time, taxpayer money and county resources, Wert said San Diego County has conducted all the legal research and all the court filings.
“They’ve gone through all the expense in this case,” he said.