The Los Angeles City Council threw its support Wednesday behind a state resolution seeking federal recognition of California's voter-approved measure legalizing marijuana for medical use.
Senate Joint Resolution 20, authored by state Sen. Carole Migden, D-San Francisco, calls on the federal government to enact legislation requiring the Drug Enforcement Administration and other agencies to "respect the compassionate use laws of states, including returning any assets seized from medical marijuana dispensaries."
The City Council resolution was approved 9-1, with Councilman Greig Smith dissenting.
There are 183 registered dispensaries in the city of Los Angeles, according to Councilman Dennis Zine. An estimated 250,000 Californians use medical marijuana to relieve aliments associated with AIDS, cancer, multiple sclerosis and other chronic conditions.
"This is not about getting high. This is not about drug dealing on the street corners. This is about the Compassionate Use Act," said Zine, who has spent almost 40 years with the Los Angeles Police Department.
California voters approved Proposition 215 in 1996, which legalized the use of marijuana by patients with a doctor's prescription. The federal government bars cannabis use of any kind.
Virgil Grant is a medical cannabis provider whose home and business were raided by DEA officers on March 20. Grant said he uses medical marijuana for pain associated with a slipped disc in his back and an injury to his right knee.
"I'm a holistic person who likes to take non-drugs. I don't like taking synthetic drugs. I live the all-natural life, so medical marijuana provides that for me without the side effects (of) Vicodin, other things," Grant said.
A spokeswoman for the DEA said the federal agency does not comment on policy issues.