Ed Rosenthal (center), wife
Jane (left) and
daughter Justine acknowledge supporters in S.F.
Chronicle photo by Brant Ward
Editorial: Safeguarding Prop.
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Published: Friday, February 07, 2003
Copyright: 2003 San Francisco Chronicle - Page A - 24
The Federal trial that left a medical marijuana advocate facing up to five years in prison has made it plain: The state must take the lead in how to implement Proposition 215, the medical marijuana law.
The U.S. District Court trial of Ed Rosenthal caused unusual, if not unprecedented, fallout with at least four jurors saying they would have voted differently if they had known that Oakland had authorized Rosenthal to grow pot that would be prescribed by doctors and distributed by city-sanctioned cooperatives.
But that seemingly salient fact was barred from the court, and Rosenthal was convicted on marijuana cultivation and conspiracy charges.
Rosenthal was but collateral damage. The real target was Proposition 215, the law approved in 1996 by 56 percent of California voters to ensure that seriously ill people could get medical marijuana if their doctors prescribed it.
Proposition 215 collides headlong with federal drug law.
Despite evolving scientific evidence and medical opinion, federal prosecutors do not recognize marijuana as medicine, and stand ready to toss Rosenthal, and other medical pot crusaders, into prison for trying to implement state law.
So it is time for the state to take charge by devising a system that accommodates the desperately ill and deflects federal attacks.
State Sen. John Vasconcellos, D-Santa Clara, has such a plan, but it was scuttled by the opposition of Gov. Gray Davis. Among other things, the Vasconcellos bill would create a statewide patient registry, ID cards and strict eligibility requirements, licensed cooperatives and, perhaps more importantly, calls for state and local governments to dispense the medicinal herb.
Statewide standards would be a big improvement over the patchwork approach that leaves cities and individuals vulnerable to federal prosecution.
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