Dazed and confused - Page 3

Marijuana and quality-of-life cases clog Newsom's Community Justice Court

In turn, low-income defendants stretched thin by the economic crisis would have to turn to being assigned to private lawyers with costly hourly rates that will still have to be paid for by the city.

Adachi told the Guardian that the marijuana possession cases at the CJC represent the benign types of cases squeezing his office dry, and that Newsom still has not provided Adachi with the two lawyers he promised to handle CJC cases. Newsom's spokesperson, Nathan Ballard, would not comment on the cases going to the CJC, telling the Guardian, "I'm not going to play along."

Bruce Mirken, communications director of the Marijuana Policy Project, sees San Francisco's use of scarce resources for marijuana cases as parallel to state and federal policy. "In a sense, it's a small piece of a larger puzzle, which is that we waste billions and billions of dollars every year in tax money that could be being used for schools, roads, healthcare, etc. in arresting and prosecuting people for possession of a drug that's safer than alcohol. It's just crazy, it's pointless, and every dollar spent on it is a dollar wasted — particularly when government is strapped for cash and cutting vital services to try to balance the budget."

The city and state continue to reassess their marijuana regulations and enforcement on a broader scale. In April, Sup. Ross Mirkarimi proposed legislation allowing the city to sell medical marijuana through the Department of Public Health. And in March, Assembly Member Ammiano began pushing for the state to legalize and tax marijuana.

In the meantime, the CJC, the District Attorney's Office, and the Public Defender's Office are still stretching their resources to handle small possession of marijuana cases cited by Tenderloin police station — in spite of the city's stated priorities. And homeless individuals continue to get cited for quality of life violations while city workers providing social services see their budgets running dry.