Medical Marijuana Legislation Introduced in Three States
Bills were recently introduced in three state legislatures to allow marijuana to be used for medical purposes by patients under doctors' supervision.
California Assemblyman John Vasconcellos (D-San Jose) has introduced A.B. 1597, which would allow patients to possess and cultivate marijuana with a doctor's recommendation.
Simultaneously, Californians for Compassionate Use is sponsoring a ballot initiative for Nov. 1996 on medical marijuana. The initiative would legalize the use, possession, and cultivation of marijuana for medicinal purposes with a doctor's prescription. Dennis Peron of Americans for Compassionate Use and Dale Gieringer of California NORML are organizing a petition drive to have the medical marijuana question on the ballot. They say they will start collecting the needed 420,000 valid signatures in August. One-third of the $500,000 expected cost has been raised for the effort.
Gieringer said that if the initiative passes, it will not override federal law prohibiting the dispensation of marijuana by doctors -- users will grow marijuana for their personal use. While federal law also bars the cultivation of marijuana, he said in practice prosecution of cultivation cases in California is handled at the state level.
Californians for Compassionate Use has also announced the results of a poll on medical marijuana conducted by David Binder Research between Mar. 2 and Mar. 8. Of the 750 registered voters polled, 65.5% said they would vote for a "ballot proposition that would end the prohibition of marijuana for personal medical use where the medical use has been recommended by a licensed physician or other certified medical provider."
[For more information about the California ballot initiative or medical marijuana poll, contact Californians for Compassionate Use at 3745 17th Street, San Francisco, California, 94114, 415-563-5858 or 415-864-1961.]
In Missouri, Senator Joe Moseley (D-Columbia) introduced Senate Bill 457, which would allow patients to use marijuana under a doctor's supervision. The bill states:
"No criminal or civil penalty shall apply to any person for the act of possessing marijuana provided that requirements of the following two subdivisions of this section are met simultaneously:
"(1) A practitioner authorized to prescribe Schedule II controlled substances for human use certifies in writing that the person is under the professional care of the practitioner for a duly diagnosed condition; and
"(2) The aforesaid practitioner certifies in writing that the person needs marijuana as part of a therapeutic regimen directed against the duly diagnosed condition."
The bill does not limit the amount a patient can possess. It does not make any mention of cultivation of a patient's supply.
Dan Veits of Missouri NORML reports that hearings on the bill are expected soon. Support for medical use of marijuana is strong in the Missouri Legislature. Last year the legislature passed a bill, Senate Concurrent Resolution 14, asking the federal government to allow medical use of marijuana.
[For more information about the Missouri bill, contact Dan Veits of Missouri NORML at 15 North Tenth Street, Columbia, MO, 65201, 314-443-6866.]
Oregon House Representative Bob Repine (R-Grants Pass) has introduced H.B. 2970, which would allow "therapeutic use of marijuana" and "directs [the] State Board of Pharmacy to establish procedures for certifying persons eligible to use marijuana." The Oregon bill would make possession of marijuana legal for patients with a doctor's prescription, but does not address the issue of cultivation.
[For more information, contact Pay for Schools by Regulating Cannabis, P.O. Box 86741, Portland, Oregon, 97286, 503-229-0428. This organization is also circulating a state initiative petition to place a question on the Nov. 1996 ballot to tax and regulate the sale of marijuana.]