Pubdate: Tue, 23 Jul 2002
Source: United Press International (Wire)
Copyright: 2002 United Press International
Bookmark: (Cannabis - California)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)
Bookmark: (Ballot Initiatives)


SAN FRANCISCO (UPI) -- San Franciscans will vote this November on a 
proposal to have the city grow medical marijuana for distribution to the 
sick and stoned, and it appeared Tuesday that the measure would win by a 

An unscientific poll by indicated that the proposal that was 
placed on the November 5 ballot by the San Francisco County Supervisors 
late Monday would pass by a wide margin in the city that was the birthplace 
of the counter-culture in the 1960s.

The poll, which was being conducted on the Web site, found 
78-percent of those who voted favored the proposal despite its apparent 
clash with federal law. Only 14-percent opposed while 8 percent clicked the 
option chiding the supervisors for even coming up with the idea.

Although the measure will likely be the fodder for comedy monologues and 
talk-show outrage through the summer, the supervisor who proposed it saw 
the issue as a serious one in which the supposed health benefits of the 
drug were being denied to patients even though California voters had 
approved its use.

"If the federal government insists on standing in our way locally, we must 
take matters into our own hands and protect the lives of our community 
members and protect their right to access life-saving medicine," said 
Supervisor Mark Leno, who is also a Democratic nominee for the state Assembly.

Advocates for medical marijuana call the plant a vital means of fighting 
off the nausea caused by AIDS and chemotherapy, which allows patients to 
stomach the rigorous treatments that keep them alive.

A statewide measure passed by the voters in 1996 authorized doctors to 
prescribe marijuana, but did not contain any provisions on how patients 
should obtain it. Marijuana is illegal under federal law, and narcotics 
agents have closed down so-called buyers clubs across the nation.

Critics of the crackdown say many patients are reluctant to seek marijuana 
on the street because they are too sick or fear being arrested or mugged.

As a result, Leno proposed a measure to encourage the city to look into 
cultivating marijuana on vacant lots and other city lands that would be 
distributed to individuals whose doctors prescribed the weed for them.

"We have a lot of land," Leno told the San Francisco Chronicle. "That's not 
going to be a problem."

Although the measure does not require city government to actually start 
raising the plants, the Drug Enforcement Administration took a dim view of 
the idea.

"Unless Congress changes the law and makes marijuana a legal substance, 
then we have to do our job and enforce the law, whether or not it's 
popular," DEA spokesman Richard Meyer said.
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