State Senator Proposes Cultivating Marijuana For Medical Research

Senator John Vasconcellos (D-Santa Clara) recently released language seeking to codify Proposition 215, the medical marijuana initiative passed by California voters in November. The measure, known as the “Proposition 215 Implementation Act of 1997,” will authorize major clinical research regarding medical marijuana as well as address distribution options and make minor clarifying amendments to Proposition 215. The language will be introduced to the state legislature later this month.

“On November 6, … 56% of [the California electorate] voted to protect the most basic right of Americans: to be free from inappropriate control by government.” said Vasconcellos. “Now the work begins to ensure the people of California’s policy is translated into the most effective practical terms for the Californians it’s intended to benefit.”

The bill requires the University of California to establish a Medical Marijuana Research Center and appropriates $2 million per year for three years to fund its operations. The bill also creates a task force to study options for distribution of medical marijuana and report back to the Legislature with recommendations.

“If the federal government is unwillingly to conduct real research to benefit sick and dying people, then California will,” Vasconcellos said.

Finally, the measure makes three simple clarifications of Proposition 215:

  • Specifies that the physician who recommends the use of medical marijuana be licensed by the state of California;
  • Provides standard protective procedures for the application of Proposition 215 to unemancipated minors;
  • Ensures defendants are allowed to claim the medical marijuana defense in a pre-trial hearing as well as in any subsequent hearing.

The language released yesterday will be introduced as a Senate bill by February 28.

“This [language] carries forward the will of the voters and deserves bi-partisan support,” said Dave Fratello of Americans for Medical Rights. “California can take the lead in beginning new Phase III human studies of marijuana to speed the drug approval process.”

For more information, please contact either Sen. John Vasconcellos’ office at (916) 445-9740 or Bill Zimmerman of Americans for Medical Rights at (310) 394-2952. For more information on medical marijuana or for a copy of NORML’s position paper: Making The Case For Medical Marijuana, please contact either Allen St. Pierre or Paul Armentano of NORML at (202) 483-5500.