Pubdate: Fri, 19 Apr 2002
Source: San Francisco Examiner (CA)
Contact:  2002 San Francisco Examiner
Author: Tanya Pampalone, Examiner Staff
Cited: NORML
Bookmark: (Cannabis - California)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)
Note: Bay City News Contributed to this report.


It worked for New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, maybe it will work for
Terence Hallinan in his race for mayor -- smoking pot that is.

District Attorney Hallinan kicked off the conference for the National
Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws on Thursday -- and told
reporters that while he smoked marijuana years ago, the only drugs he takes
now are prescription. 

Hallinan, who was the first to announce his mayoral candidacy, is part of
the honest politico pothead ranks. That list includes Bloomberg -- who is
the NORML poster boy this month.

Bloomberg unwillingly stars in a $500,000 NORML campaign where he responds
to whether he smoked pot by saying, "You bet I did. And I enjoyed it."

Other notable politicians who've passed the Dutchie include ex-U.S. Senator
Bill Bradley, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Vice President Al Gore and
the honorable U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

But don't bring that bong out the closet just yet. After Hallinan's
welcoming speech to a packed room of 400 people in suits and tie-dye at the
Crowne Plaza Union Square Hotel, he said he supported medical marijuana but
not legalization. 

Times have changed, he said, because when he started working as a lawyer in
San Francisco, someone caught in possession of even one seed could be
charged with a felony. Now the state has Proposition 215 on the books,
effectively legalizing the use of marijuana for medical purposes.

The law conflicts with federal statutes, however, leading to a raid of Bay
Area pot clubs by U.S. Drug Enforcement agents in February. A Supreme Court
decision last year cleared the way for federal action, as the court
effectively ruled that federal law trumps state law.

Hallinan and local authorities had allowed clubs to operate, telling the
feds to "lay off our marijuana clubs,'' but he shied away from repeating
that admonition Thursday.

Meanwhile, NORML has put medicinal marijuana at the forefront of its
campaign work and wants to see the drug decriminalized.

"Adult pot smokers are tax-paying, hardworking citizens who should not be
singled out because they smoke marijuana," NORML spokesman Nicholas
Thimmesch said. 

The organization, which was founded in 1970, wants all pot smokers to come
out of the closet. Thimmesch said the Bloomberg posters were created to
illustrate that people from all walks of life, including politicians, use or
have used marijuana.

Supervisor Mark Leno has smoked pot -- and inhaled.

"I'm ready for my close-up Mayor Bloomberg," Leno said in response to
whether he had used marijuana in the past.

Leno was honored by NORML on Thursday for helping to implement Prop. 215, in
1996. He was responsible for drafting the Department of Public Health's
medical marijuana identification program. 

While our very own Mayor Willie Brown was supportive of Prop. 215, he was
none too pleased when The Examiner popped the pot question.

"I've never smoked anything, not tobacco, not marijuana," Brown said through
spokesman PJ Johnston. "But I don't think it's any of your business anyway," 

The NORML conference will run through Saturday. The organization will hold
panel discussions on a variety of topics, including the basics on how to
avoid a pot bust.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Doc-Hawk