Pubdate: Tue, 27 Aug 2002
Source: Arizona Daily Sun (AZ)
Contact:  2002 Arizona Daily Sun
Author: Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services
Note: For the Legislative Analysis of Proposition 203 go to


PHOENIX -- County prosecutors kicked off the campaign to block further
liberalization of state marijuana laws. 

In separate press conferences, Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley and Pima
County Attorney Barbara LaWall came out strongly against Proposition 203.
That measure would allow those with a doctor's recommendation to have and
use marijuana and decriminalize possession of small amounts of the drug for
everyone else. 

Romley said the real issue is that the initiative goes far beyond the issue
of letting doctors prescribe otherwise illegal drugs, subjects approved by
voters in 1996 and ratified in 1998. 

"This is not about providing marijuana to the ill and dying," Romley said.
"It's about legalization." 

Existing law permits doctors to prescribe marijuana to terminal and
seriously ill patients. But doctors have balked after the U.S. Drug
Enforcement Agency threatened to revoke their prescription writing

This year's measure requires only a doctor's recommendation. But it goes
beyond that, allowing anyone with such a note to get free marijuana from the
stash of seized drugs from the state Department of Public Safety. 

"Our seniors don't get their drugs for free," noted Barnett Lotstein, an
aide to Romley. Anyway, he said, there are no procedures for DPS to test the
drugs to see if they are tainted with pesticides, leading to possible
liability if someone who gets state-provided pot becomes ill. 

Those without a prescription could still have their drugs seized. But the
maximum penalty for possession of two ounces or less would be $250. 

Romley said he would support the medical use of marijuana if it is approved
by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. "I just don't think medicine
should be decided at the ballot box," he said. 

Both events also featured Joe Garagiola Jr., vice president and general
manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Garagiola said he and Jerry Colangelo,
managing partner of the team, are "concerned about anything that would make,
in this case, marijuana more accessible, and specifically more accessible to

Garagiola said there is no mixed message in the Diamondbacks seeking to
block medical use of marijuana and the fact that major league baseball
allows its players to use androstenedione, banned by most other sports. The
over-the-counter dietary supplement boosts testosterone levels. 

"Baseball has had a policy in place for many years, in the minor leagues,
that allows for testing for a whole range of drugs," he said. Garagiola said
owners have been pushing for "some version of that" in the majors but the
issue is tied up in contract negotiations with the players. 

The drug, known as "andro," remains permitted in baseball even though it is
banned by the Olympics, the National Football League, professional tennis
tours as well as the National College Athletic Association. 

Sam Vagenas, who is heading the pro-203 campaign, defended having the state
provide the drug to those with a doctor's permission. He said it makes more
sense than forcing these people to find it on the street.
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