Pubdate: Thu, 10 Oct 2002
Source: East Valley Tribune (AZ)
Copyright: 2002 East Valley Tribune
Author: Ray Stern, Tribune
Bookmark: (Cannabis)


Sponsors of a Nov. 5 ballot proposition to lessen marijuana penalties 
"expect the people of Arizona to be stupid," U.S. drug czar John Walters 
said at a press conference today.

"They are plying on a kind of ignorance that is our job to correct," said 
Walters, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Two polls 
in the last three months revealed that Proposition 203 is supported by a 
substantial majority of voters. But Walters, speaking at the Los Olivos 
Senior Center in Phoenix, said people who believe marijuana is harmless or 
works as an effective medicine have been misinformed.

The proposition eliminates arrests for possession of two ounces or less - 
or two living plants - of marijuana, and reduces the penalty from a felony 
to a civil offense subject to a $250 fine. It also requires the Arizona 
Department of Public Safety to distribute confiscated marijuana free to 
qualified medical patients and changes forfeiture laws so that a person 
must be convicted of a crime before police can seize any property.

Walters called the proposition a "stupid, insulting" con job run by a 
dishonest campaign.

He was joined by gubernatorial candidates Matt Salmon and Janet Napolitano, 
who put aside their differences to issue a unified message against 
Proposition 203.

"I see the real-life consequence of drug abuse," said Napolitano, the 
current state Attorney General and former U.S. Attorney for Arizona. "I've 
seen our homicide rate go up in Arizona as the result of drug trafficking."

"I'm proud to stand here with Janet - we agree on this," Salmon said.
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