Pubdate: Tue, 14 Oct 2003
Source: North County Times (CA)
Contact:  2003 North County Times
Author: Jennifer Coleman, Associated Press Writer 
Bookmark: (Cannabis - California)


SACRAMENTO (AP) -- Gov. Gray Davis has signed a bill that will create a card
for medical marijuana users to help protect them from arrest, but he vetoed
another that would have let pharmacists sell up to 30 hypodermic needles
without a prescription.

Davis' deadline to sign or veto legislation was Sunday, by which time he had
signed a total of 909 bills this year and vetoed 58. Last year, the
Legislature send Davis 1,433 bills, of which he vetoed 263. 

The rush of bill signings and vetoes capped a year that saw Davis, a
Democrat, approve new laws that let undocumented immigrants get driver's
licenses, expand rights for domestic partners and mandate many businesses to
provide health insurance for their workers.

Opponents of those three hotly debated new laws have filed papers to put
referendums on the ballot to let voters determine whether the state should
implement the laws.

Gov.-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger "will take a close look at new laws that
Gov. Davis signed in recent weeks," said Karen Hanretty, spokeswoman for

Last week, Schwarzenegger asked Davis to refrain from making any more
appointments and from signing the hundreds of bills left on the governor's
desk, though bills not signed or vetoed by the governor by the deadline
automatically become law.

Schwarzenegger didn't specify which bills he didn't want to see become law.

If Schwarzenegger objects to any of the newly enacted laws, he'll ask the
Legislature to change them, Hanretty said, or he'll take it to the people by
way of a referendum.

Since he was recalled in last Tuesday's special election, Davis' final wave
of bill signings and vetoes was the source of much speculation whether he
would approve a final wave of liberal legislation before Republican
Schwarzenegger takes office in November.

Among the bills signed just before the Sunday deadline was one by Sen. John
Vasconcellos, D-Santa Clara, that directs the Department of Health Services
to provide medical marijuana users with a card that protects them from

The identification cards are designed to protect medical marijuana users
from arrest by state and local law enforcement officers.

Proposition 215, approved by California voters in 1996, allows Californians
with cancer, HIV and certain other chronic medical conditions to grow and
use marijuana to ease nausea and other health problems, if a physician
recommends it.

Cultivation, possession and use of marijuana remains a crime under federal

Davis vetoed another Vasconcellos bill, which aimed to reduce the number of
AIDS cases by letting adults buy up to 30 hypodermic needles at a time
without a doctor's prescription.

Supporters of the bill say it would have reduced the sharing of needles by
drug addicts, which would slow the spread of AIDS and other blood borne

In his veto message, Davis said the bill would have undermined one-for-one
needle exchange programs already in place, and would weaken county oversight
of such programs.

Davis also vetoed a bill that would have allowed undocumented immigrants to
apply for tuition waivers at California community colleges.

That bill, by Sen. Martha Escutia, D-Norwalk, would have required that the
student attended high school in California for at least three years,
obtained a diploma or an equivalent degree and, if the student isn't in the
state legally, had applied to become a legal resident.

Opponents said the bill followed in the footsteps of the bill Davis signed
in September that allows illegal immigrants to get driver's licenses.
Supporters said the bill would help those students become educated members
of the state's work force, helping the economy.

Davis said a bill he signed in 2001, which eliminated the higher
out-of-state tuition rate for some immigrant students, provided those
students with the opportunity to attend college in California. Escutia's
bill, he said, would "result in significant additional costs to the state"
because of the lost tuition.
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