Pubdate: [Sat, 28 Dec 1996]
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Author: Dale H. Gieringer

Editor -- As an ex-federal bureaucrat from New York, Joe Califano has some
nerve complaining that California's Prop 215 was the work of ``out-of-state
elites'' intending to legalize drugs (Open Forum, December 10).

As one of the organizers of Prop 215, I can attest that its intent was
entirely medical, namely to relieve the suffering of the many patients who
need marijuana for medicine and were being denied legal access to it. From
the beginning, Prop 215 was the work of an informal, volunteer coalition of
Californians, who labored over five years on a shoestring budget to bring
public pressure to bear on the medical marijuana issue. We were gratified
by the support of the public, the press and the Legislature, which
responded by twice passing medical marijuana bills, only to be vetoed by
Governor Wilson.

At that point, we realized that our only alternative was to seek a ballot
initiative. To succeed, we knew we would need far more money than we had
ever raised before. After innumerable fruitless appeals, we were gratified
to receive the support of a group of philanthropists led by Mr. Soros.

Yet it was not the money, but the sentiment of 5 million California voters
that settled the matter. Long before the Prop 215 campaign started, the
great majority of Californians knew that marijuana is medicine and should
be available to those who need it. The voters were not hoodwinked, but
rightly cast a vote of no confidence in Califano's ilk and the drug
enforcement establishment in approving Prop 215.

Friends of Proposition 215 Berkeley