By Steve Large

AUBURN (CBS13) — The mayor of Auburn says he helped a patient smoke marijuana inside a Northern California Veterans Affairs hospital.

Dr. William Kirby is a practicing urologist, and he revealed during a discussion on medical marijuana at the City Council meeting he sent someone to find marijuana on the streets for a patient.

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The mayor is defending his decision, saying he made it not as a politician, but as a doctor.

“I treated a patient appropriately, and he survived. There’s nothing else to it. I’m a doctor,” he said. “I’m a doctor first before anything else.”

He described his work as a urologist in 1979 helping a cancer patient smoke marijuana inside a Martinez VA hospital so that he would finish chemotherapy treatment.

“I sent one of my residents to Oakland and said find some marijuana,” he said. “And he took two hits, and it’s a little weird to have it wafting down the halls of a VA hospital.”

Kirby says his patient survived.

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“The fact that you put it in the context of having somebody go to Oakland to the streets to find this drug and get it to a patient—I actually have no idea where they went, I never asked—but they acquired it, the patient took it,” he said.

In a City Council debate about Auburn’s marijuana laws, this patient was his example why compassionate use of marijuana is real.

“The real point you’re here is, it’s a little odd to be on the VA hospital, and have a little marijuana wafting down the hallway,” he said.

Despite changing state laws, marijuana use is illegal under federal law, and it remains against the law for VA doctors to recommend medical marijuana as a treatment.

Kirby says he has never prescribed marijuana for a patient, but says in the case he made public at the meeting, he helped save a man’s life.

“It does keep people alive that otherwise might stop therapy,” he said.

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The City Council voted to temporarily ban medical marijuana dispensaries and cultivation on Monday, though the mayor says he would support lifting the ban if residents request it.