Medical Marijuana Summit in California 5/28/98

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On Wednesday, May 26, two dozen Democratic members of the California State Senate met with police officers, state officials and medical marijuana advocates in an attempt to hammer out a workable distribution plan in the wake of the federal government's continued hard line against the implementation of Proposition 215.  Unfortunately for the attendees, the federal government, which has maintained its attack upon California's medical marijuana law on a variety of fronts, refused to participate in the summit.

State Senator John Vasconcellos (Santa Clara) who called for the meeting, along with Senate president Pro Tem John Burton and 21 other senators and assembly members, sent a strongly-worded letter to the President, which said, in part, "Mr. President, we can't ignore this issue.  It won't go away, so long as human beings believe they have the right to attend to their own illness, as their doctor recommends, rather than as government dictates."  The letter also noted that "It's ironic you question our people's judgment about proposition 215 while not questioning the wisdom of our returning you to office."  Proposition 215 received 56% of the popular vote; Clinton's total in California was 52%.

Dave Fratello, spokesman for Americans for Medical Rights, told The Week Online, "One interesting idea which came out of the meeting was the use of a loophole in federal law which allows state or local officials to handle otherwise illegal substances in conjunction with the enforcement of a state or local ordinance.  This was written to allow the police and others to handle drugs for sting operations, but it's written very broadly.  There was some agreement that this provision might well cover local health officials who were handing out marijuana."

Todd McCormick, a long-term cancer patient and medical marijuana user who is awaiting trial on charges of growing marijuana, also attended the summit.  McCormick told The Week Online, "I know that right now the federal government is trying to make it impossible for people to have access, but some of the plans which have been tossed around don't sound a whole lot better.  I'm very concerned about the whole idea of ID cards for medical marijuana users.  To single people out, to say 'hey, you're a marijuana user,' sounds a little like making people wear a pink triangle or a yellow star.  I don't want to give up my privacy to the state because they don't like the way I choose to treat my pain."

After much discussion, most agreed that the central obstacle to any plan was the federal government.  Vasconcellos, addressing the attendees, called the feds' refusal to attend the summit "disappointing, shameful and arrogant."

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Issue #44, 5/28/98 Drug Crazy Hits the Stores! | Final Week for Marijuana Myths, Marijuana Facts Offer! | Colombian Soldiers Being Trained by US Special Forces | Helicopter Manufacturers Battle over Which Will Arm Colombians | Washington: Conference on Latin American and the Drug War | Medical Marijuana Summit in California | California Medical Association Calls for Rescheduling of Marijuana | Speaking at Medical Marijuana Conference Lands Patient in Jail | Geriatric Prison Approved for Construction in Oklahoma | Romania's Secret Service Implicated in Cigarette Smuggling | Web Site News | Quote and Link of the Week | Editorial: Medicinal Marijuana, Summits and Balloons

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