California State Senator Introduces Legislation To Limit Patients Protected ByProposition 215

State Sen. Richard Rainey (R-Walnut Creek) introduced legislation on Friday to curb the use of medical marijuana in California. Senate Bill 2113 seeks to restrict the number of patients who qualify to use marijuana legally under state law to those suffering from only HIV, cancer, glaucoma, or spasticity disorders. The legislation omits several medical conditions for which marijuana often provides relief such as chronic pain, neuralgia, and some psychiatric disorders.
“The passage of this legislation could make criminals overnight out of thousands of patients now legally using marijuana as a medicine,” NORML Executive Director R. Keith Stroup, Esq. said.
The Rainey bill further states that physicians who recommend marijuana to a patient must do so in writing. All written recommendations must be re-issued every six months. California NORML Coordinator Dale Gieringer said that many California physicians are wary of writing medical marijuana recommendations because they fear federal officials may suspend their license to prescribe scheduled drugs.
Senate Bill 2113 also states that Proposition 215 may only provide an “affirmative defense” against prosecution rather than an exemption from state criminal marijuana charges. This new language would subject even bona fide medical marijuana patients to arrest and prosecution until they
proved their cases at trial, Gieringer said.
For S.B. 2113 to become law, it must gain the approval of the California Legislature and a majority of state voters because it would alter the purpose of Proposition 215.
In response to this and other efforts to compromise the scope of Proposition 215, state Sen. John Vasconcellos (D-Santa Clara) recently introduced legislation to form a “Medical Marijuana Distribution Task Force” to determine a “safe and affordable” distribution system for medical marijuana. Language in Proposition 215 encouraged “federal and state governments to implement a plan to provide … marijuana to all patients in medical need;” however, no such efforts are yet under way.
For more information, please contact either Dale Gieringer of California NORML @ (415) 563-5858 or Keith Stroup of NORML @ (202) 483-5500.