MEDICAL MARIJUANA: Lockyer to Endorse Voluntary Registration
State Attorney General Bill Lockyer (D) is expected today to endorse a statewide system by which qualified patients may possess and cultivate marijuana without fear of prosecution. The plan, the product of a task force he created in March to address the issue, "would allow marijuana clubs operating quasi-underground in many Northern California counties to conduct business in the open." Under the proposal, patients certified by a doctor as afflicted by AIDS, anorexia, chronic pain, cancer, glaucoma, migraines, persistent muscle spasms, nausea or other conditions, could register and obtaining photo identification cards through their county health departments. This registration would exempt them from arrest and prosecution for possession, transportation or cultivation of marijuana. The state Department of Health Services would develop standards of appropriate amounts to possess or cultivate. "We have an obligation to fix a poorly worded initiative that was approved by the voters," said Lockyer spokesperson Nathan Barankin.
Going to Committee
The language of the proposal is contained in a bill by state Sen. John Vasconcellos (D-San Jose), which will see action tomorrow by the Assembly Health Committee. The major sticking point, reports the San Francisco Chronicle, remains the support of local law enforcement officials, due to the fact that the system is voluntary rather than mandatory. "We will keep talking and working with law enforcement to address their issues," Barankin said. Although former Gov. Pete Wilson and former state attorney general Dan Lundgren both "vehemently opposed any attempt to carry out" the 1996 ballot initiative, Gov. Gray Davis has not indicated his position on the new bill (Gunnison, 7/12).