Lockyer discusses marijuna laws
California Attorney General Bill Lockyer said he feels the use of medicinal marijuana is good thing for patients, but admits there may be abuses to the law.
The Compassionate Use Act of 1996 states that “seriously ill Californians have the right to obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes where that medical use is deemed appropriate.”
Prop 215 was the first law of its kind in the United States. Legislators had few guidelines to follow in drafting the proposition. As a result the law leaves few clear guidelines for people.
“Unfortunately the law was the first of its sort and there are a lot of unanswered questions that arose after it was adopted,” Lockyer said. “Things like what specific diseases, what quantities, the role of the care taker, the role of the doctor and so on. Now there have been legislative efforts which I’ve supported to provide for those clarifications, but they haven’t yet passed.”
Despite the ambiguity of the wording of the law, Lockyer said he supports the use of medical marijuana.
“I supported the proposition,” Lockyer said. “My mom died of leukemia when she was 50 and my little sister died of leukemia when she was 39. It was horrible to watch those terminal months when they could be given morphine but not other medicine like this.”
California’s medical marijuana law has been criticized by law enforcement agencies statewide because of loopholes it may create for recreational users. While Lockyer admits this could be a problem, he said it is not a difficulty that is unique to medical marijuana laws.
“Every law probably has people who abide by it and people who obey it,” Lockyer said. “It wouldn’t surprise me to learn about cases of abuses or violations of the law. (Prop 215) is vague enough that sometimes it is hard for a person to know exactly what is legal or illegal.”
While about a dozen states have laws or pending legislation to allow the medicinal use of marijuana, the FDA does not recognize it as a legitimate form of medication and the federal government imposes strict penalties for marijuana violations.
“”We do have a conflict between California law and the federal statute,” Lockyer said. “The federal government treats marijuana the same as heroin. That’s goofy and I hope at some point the federal government will contemporize its statutes and regulations.”
Lockyer plans to continue to pursue legislation he feels is best for the people of California. He has already filed for reelection in the 2002 election.
“I’m a candidate for reelection as attorney general,” Lockyer said. “I love this work. Every day is interesting. I’m looking forward to next year hopefully being rehired by Californians and another four years of doing this exciting job.”
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