Pubdate: Mon, 11 Nov 2002
Source: State, The (SC)
Copyright: 2002 The State


Anaheim, Calif -- Stung by the defeat of marijuana-law reform measures in 
three states, proponents of decriminalizing the drug are preparing for a 
new round of political and legal battles.

Voters on Tuesday defeated:

. A Nevada measure to legalize possession of up to three ounces of marijuana;

. An Arizona initiative that would have likened pot possession to a traffic 

. A South Dakota initiative that would legalize hemp farms.

Some local measures did pass, including resolutions in 19 Massachusetts 
districts asking state representatives to support making marijuana 
possession a civil rather than a criminal violation.

The "crown jewel" of marijuana reform laws was passed in San Francisco, 
authorizing the city to explore the establishment of a medical marijuana 
growing and distribution program, said Rob Kampia, executive director of 
the Washington, D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project.

Kampia joined 500 marijuana-reform advocates in Anaheim this weekend for a 
conference to regroup and plan the next step.

Attendees have a lot of work to do. Federal drug enforcement officials say 
the election marked the beginning of the end of the legalization movement.

The next offensive for the movement will take place in several different 
venues, said Kevin Zeese, president of Common Sense for Drug Policy.

Politically, advocates plan to press San Francisco officials to follow 
through on what some considered a somewhat symbolic piece of legislation 
and actually start planting pot gardens and giving the drug as medicine to 
sick and dying people.

That would be illegal under federal law, despite state and local laws that 
allow it, said Drug Enforcement Agency spokesman Richard Meyer in San 

Zeese said such confrontations are necessary.

"Part of the process is to sharpen the conflict," he said.

Eight states have approved medical marijuana, and 35 states have passed 
legislation recognizing marijuana's medicinal value. But federal law bans 
marijuana under any circumstances.

In the past year, DEA agents have raided several medical marijuana 
providers in California.

Shawn Heller, national director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy -- 
which has chapters at 200 college and high school campuses -- said other 
local initiatives and perhaps another state proposal should be organized.

During the next few months, federal judges in California are expected to 
hear more cases involving a patient's right to use medical marijuana.

Angel McClary Raich -- who uses marijuana to control pain for an array of 
medical problems -- has a case pending in U.S. District Court in Oakland.

"I'm fighting for my life, but also I'm trying to help other patients," she 
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