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Attorney General Bill Lockyer, Senator John Vasconcellos, Santa Clara District Attorney George Kennedy and Others Release Medical Marijuana Task Force Recommendations

Monday, July 12, 1999
Contact: (415) 703-5837

(Sacramento) - Attorney General Bill Lockyer, State Senator John Vasconcellos, Santa Clara District Attorney George Kennedy and others today released the recommendations of the Attorney General's Medical Marijuana Task Force.

In November of 1996 the voters of California approved Proposition 215, which permitted access to marijuana for medicinal purposes, with more than 55 percent of the vote. Since that time, the application and enforcement of the law has been erratic and the subject of intense criticism due to ambiguities and significant omissions in the language of the initiative. In January of this year the Attorney General formed the Medical Marijuana Task Force in order to develop recommendations for responsible implementation of Proposition 215.

Co-chaired by Senator Vasconcellos and District Attorney Kennedy, the 29-member task force is comprised of a diverse group representing patients, police, sheriffs, narcotics officers, district attorneys, doctors and local government in California. Over the past six months, the task force has met regularly in an effort to reach the broadest possible agreement on a safe, fair and enforceable set of recommendations for the proper implementation of Proposition 215.

"I am extremely impressed with and grateful for all of the hard work that the task force members have dedicated to this difficult public policy issue," Lockyer said. "This was not an easy issue. For the past three years law enforcement, doctors and seriously ill Californians have struggled to find an appropriate manner to respect the will of the voters and protect the public safety. Unfortunately, Proposition 215 was a poorly drafted initiative that raised more questions than it answered. The task force's recommendations will help legislators and others clarify the shortcomings in Proposition 215 while protecting the interests of law enforcement and the seriously ill."

Some of the major provisions of the task force's recommendations include:

* Establishes a registry identification program to be administered by the Department of Health Services in conjunction with county health departments for the purposes of identifying individuals authorized to engage in medical use of marijuana.

* Recommends that the Department of Health Services be responsible for determining what amount of medical marijuana is appropriate for patients.

* Permits regulated operation of cooperative cultivation projects and provides that regulations be developed for the operation and supervision of such cooperatives.

* Clarifies those cases where medical marijuana use may be authorized and requires that the patient's personal physician make the recommendation.

The task force's recommendations have been amended into Senate Bill 848 (Vasconcellos) which is scheduled to be heard on Tuesday, July 13 in the Assembly Health Committee.

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