An op-ed by California state senator John Vasconcellos (D-San Jose) in the Los Angeles Times this Thursday (2/25/99) blasted the federal government's opposition to voter-approved medical marijuana initiatives in several states, including California's Prop. 215. Vasconcellos asked, "What kind of a government carries on a crusade against the will of its voters, favors pain and even death for some of its people?"
According to the San Jose Mercury News, Vasconcellos is reintroducing a bill to establish a medical marijuana research program at the University of California, and is co-chairing, with Santa Clara County District Attorney George Kennedy, a 20-person task force formulating recommendations to Attorney General Bill Lockyer on Prop. 215 implementation. Both Vasconcellos and Lockyer, formerly Senate President, have energetically advocated availability of medical marijuana to patients.
The Mercury also reported that Lockyer told reporters, following his first State of the Public Safety address, "It always amazes me that doctors can prescribe morphine but not marijuana," and stated that Lockyer and attorneys general from other west coast states with medical marijuana laws are planning to meet with federal officials to discuss the reclassification of marijuana as a prescription medicine.
A spokesperson for Lockyer, however, told the Week Online that reporters had mistook Lockyer's trip to Washington as being connected with the medical marijuana issue, and that while Lockyer is visiting Washington late next month, for the meeting of the National Association of Attorneys General, there are "no plans, no meetings, no agenda" in the works for meetings on the medical marijuana issue. When asked if Lockyer had plans underway for how to advance the medical marijuana issue after the task force's report is released, the spokesperson answered that there is not. He also said that there has been informal communication between Attorneys General offices in states with voter-approved medical marijuana laws, but no formal committees like California's task force.