MEDICAL MARIJUANA: Coalition Pushes For State-Sponsored Program
State Sen. John Vasconcellos (D-Santa Clara) is heading a "coalition of elected officials" that wants the state to distribute marijuana to terminally ill patients. In light of opposition from state Attorney General Dan Lungren and the federal government to the medical marijuana clubs across the state, the coalition "will try to hammer out a concrete proposal for a state-sponsored medical marijuana distribution program" at "a May 26 summit at the state Capitol," the Sacramento Bee reports. Vasconcellos said he would add the proposal to a medical marijuana bill currently pending in the state Legislature. "The hope is to forge an agreement on the best possible situation, to get something on the table," said Vasconcellos (Lyons, 5/19). "We want to find a way that provides safe access that doesn't allow for diversion to nonmedicinal purposes," he said (Curtius, Los Angeles Times, 5/19). The Bee reports that the summit will "be held as a regular hearing of the State Committee on Public Safety," and will "include testimony from the San Francisco and Santa Clara district attorneys, several city health officers and medical marijuana advocates." The federal government "declined to take part," said a Vasconcellos aide, but a representative of Lungren will testify (5/19). George Kennedy, district attorney for Santa Clara County and president of the California District Attorneys Association, said the "best way" to work out the legal battles over medical marijuana "is for law enforcement to work with public health and other officials to try and implement the will of the people." He said, "It is very clear to me that, under Proposition 215, the majority of the people here in California want to have seriously ill people have access to medical marijuana."
San Francisco Treat
In related news, the Los Angeles Times reports that Terence Hallinan, district attorney for San Francisco County, "is trying to devise a way for the city" and county to distribute medical marijuana through the health department. The Times reports that Hallinan has met with San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown and health department officials "to find a more low-profile way to distribute marijuana." He said, "My feeling is that if it is done properly, by a health department, and supervised and run ... tightly ... the federal government will pass on it, as they do with the needle exchange." The Times reports that Hallinan said he was "encouraged" by U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer's ruling last week that ordered the area's six medical marijuana clubs to close, but which also "left the door open for the city to fashion its own distribution plan." Breyer noted "that the federal government has not filed suit against San Francisco for allowing the distribution of clean hypodermic needles to addicts." Hallinan said that "the judge was hinting that the same may hold true" for the city's distribution of pot (5/19).