Pubdate: Sun, 23 Apr 2000
Source: Orange County Register (CA)
Copyright: 2000 The Orange County Register
Contact:  P.O. Box 11626, Santa Ana, CA 92711
Fax: (714) 565-3657
Author: Teri Sforza-The Orange County Register


NEWS FOCUS: Critics say it's the attorney general's duty to set up
statewide guidelines.

Before being sworn in as California's top cop, Bill Lockyer made fun of
what he saw as his predecessor's stodginess."I joke that there are
days when I thought Dan(Lungren)had a copy of(the anti-marijuana
movie) 'Reefer Madness' at home," Lockyer said.

Lockyer, a Democrat, promised to be a breath of fresh air in law
enforcement, and to do something Republican Lungren refused to do:
find a way to make Proposition 215, California's problematic
medical-marijuana law, work.

He formed a task force. It made recommendations. The recommendations
became a bill in the Legislature. Hopes were high that there soon
would be a fair and evenhanded way to apply Prop. 215 statewide,
wiping out the uneven application that lets places such as Santa Cruz
open medicinal-marijuana bed-and-breakfasts, while places such as
Orange County sentence medicinal-marijuana activists to six years in

But today - more than a year after Lockyer took office, and more than
three years after Prop. 215 passed - the Lockyer-inspired bill
languishes in the Legislature, and little has changed. California is
still a patchwork quilt when it comes to Prop. 215, and there's no
equal protection under the law.  Frustrated and impatient, some of
Lockyer's supporters accuse him of reneging on a promise.

"He said he would enforce Prop. 215, and he hasn't," said Anna Boyce,
a retired registered nurse from Mission Viejo who helped write the

"That's his duty," she said. "He is obligated. The law says that if
you are a patient and you have a doctor's recommendation to use
medical marijuana, you will be protected. He needs to tell all of law
enforcement that this is the law, and not let each county and city do
things differently."

Boyce and many others want Lockyer to issue guidelines telling police
and district attorneys exactly how to implement Prop. 215. Lockyer
intends to do no such things.

Lockyer "was elected attorney general, not dictator," said spokesman
Nathan Barankin.

Lockyer voted for Prop. 215. He remembers the suffering of his mother,
who died of leukemia at 50, and of his sister, who died from the same
disease.  "It didn't make sense to me that they could have morphine
but they couldn't have marijuana," Lockyer said during a recent visit
to Orange County.

But Prop. 215 - while well-intentioned - was badly drafted, he said.
"There clearly is a need for crisp state regulations and guidelines
that will assist local agencies," he said last year.

His strategy for achieving those crisp regulations:

From the beginning, Lockyer vowed to work with police,
medical-marijuana advocates and the Legislature to clarify Prop. 215's
ambiguities. He always intended to make the changes through the
Legislature, said Barankin - and that's exactly what he's doing.

"Enforcing Proposition 215 requires a lot of cooperation between
medical experts, law enforcement and government," Barankin said.

"What Bill Lockyer did, even before he was sworn in, was form a task
force to think hard about what we could do to responsibly implement
Proposition 215. The product of that process was legislation that is
still being actively considered.

It's our hope that the Legislature will smile upon that piece of
legislation and pass it by Aug. 31, when the Legislature shuts down."

But that legislation didn't pass last year. If it fails again this
year, "We will have to re-group and determine what the next steps
are," Barankin said.

In the meantime, it's do-your-own-thing. Arcata and Oakland have
passed laws allowing the distribution of medical marijuana. San Jose
and San Francisco have taken big steps in that direction. A
medical-marijuana distribution center is operating in West Hollywood.
And Santa Cruz passed a law saying that anyone being treated for an
illness "for which marijuana provides relief" can use marijuana
without a doctor's recommendation.

Orange County, however, has mounted stings against medical-marijuana
activists, prosecuted them for selling the drug and sent them to jail.

The Orange County District Attorney's Office said the cannibis club
was a sophisticated cover for dealing marijuana.

That just isn't fair, critics say.

"Lockyer continues to allow police in every city to make up their own
rules," said J. David Nick, the San Francisco attorney who represented
Santa Ana medical-marijuana activist Marvin Chavez, who was sentenced
to six years in prison in 1999 and released April 14 on bail pending

"He could, and should, issue guidelines on how Prop. 215 is to be
interpreted and enforced. He is the chief law enforcement officer. All
sheriffs, district attorneys and police chiefs report to him. He has
the authority to say, "This is what you're going to do with
Proposition 215 cases' - he does not need legislative approval to do
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