MEDICAL MARIJUANA: CA Task Force Seeks Registry, Regulation
California's Medical Marijuana Task Force, a panel of police officers, medical marijuana supporters and doctors representing both sides of the issue, has recommended that the state establish a voluntary registry of medical marijuana users, as well as finalize regulations on growing the plant, the Los Angeles Times reports. Proposition 215 was passed by voters in November 1996 and limited marijuana cultivation to individual patients. The current proposal "would allow clubs now operating underground ... to function openly." The registry would issue photo ID cards to registered users for a fee and feature a 24-hour hotline number for police to verify a user's registration. Scott Imler, director of the Los Angeles Cannabis Resource Center in West Hollywood, said, "Hopefully, this would be establishing a basic bright line for law enforcement in terms of identifying qualified patients so that they can then leave them alone." The task force recommendations clarify Proposition 215, which has been interpreted differently by different counties. The 30-member task force has also asked the Department of Health Services to solicit public comment and then specify the amount of marijuana patients may legally possess. The 30-member task force, appointed by Attorney General Bill Lockyer (D), has not yet released its recommendations, which were drafted as a 16-page Assembly bill (Curtius, Los Angeles Times, 7/5).
The Next Best Thing
In related news, the federal government Friday reclassified Marinol, a byproduct of marijuana that has been used by AIDS and cancer patients as a pain reliever, from a "Schedule 2 drug" to a "Schedule 3 drug," grouping it with widely used drugs such as Codeine, the AP/Bergen Record reports. Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey noted, "This action will make Marinol, which is scientifically proven to be safe and effective for medical use, more widely available." Marinol remains the "only agent, or cannabinoid, in marijuana that has undergone research and been developed into a prescription drug." While medical marijuana proponents argue that marijuana includes several additional agents that could prove beneficial to patients, McCaffrey remains opposed to the legalization of medical marijuana, which has been approved in Oregon and California (Carter, Record, 6/3).