In addition to a handful of statewide initiatives this year, drug policy issues are showing up in local elections in California and Massachusetts. In the Golden State, San Francisco is poised to give a collective poke in the eye to the federal government's anti-medical marijuana crusade, while in the Bay State, voters in selected districts will decide on a series of related pot and medical marijuana issues.
Reacting to an escalating pattern of DEA raids against medical marijuana providers in the state, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted in July to ask voters whether the city government should explore growing and distributing its own medical marijuana supply. Supervisor Mark Leno, a long-time medical marijuana supporter, was the motivating force behind the measure. "Yes, this does challenge federal law and the DEA," he told a news conference at the time. "It has to be done. No one should have to go on the street to find this medicine."
A yes vote on the measure would allow city officials to begin examining how to put such a system together, but would not commit the city to getting into the medical marijuana business. If San Francisco actually moved to implement such a system, court challenges from the federal government would be a near certainty.
While DRCNet is aware of no polling on the issue, called Proposition S on the ballot, San Francisco has long been a bastion of support for medical marijuana. The city health department has issued more than 3,700 ID cards for certified medical marijuana patients, accounting for more than 10% of all medical marijuana patients in the state. Last year, the city declared itself a sanctuary for medical marijuana patients.
On the ballot:
(Proposition S) Medical MarijuanaMASSACHUSETTS
Medical marijuana, marijuana decriminalization and industrial hemp initiatives are on the ballot in 47 towns and cities, including 20 of the state's 170 House districts. Yes votes on the initiatives instruct lawmakers to vote in favor of medical marijuana, decriminalization, or hemp, depending on the district. Another drug policy-related initiative would instruct lawmakers to vote for a resolution against US policy in Colombia.
The marijuana initiatives campaign, organized by the Drug Policy Forum of Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition, builds on a similar effort in the 2000 elections, when 18 cities and towns passed like-minded measures by a two-to-one margin.
On the ballot (in 16 districts in Norfolk, Plymouth, Suffolk, and Worchester): "Shall the state representative from this district be instructed to vote in favor of legislation that would make possession of less than one ounce of marijuana a civil violation, subject to a maximum fine of $100 and not subject to any criminal penalties?"
On the ballot (in three districts in Essex): "Shall the state representative from this district be instructed to introduce and vote for legislation making possession of marijuana a civil violation, like a traffic ticket instead of a criminal offense, and requiring the police to hold a person under 18 who is cited for possession until the person is released to a parent or legal guardian or brought before a judge?"
On the ballot (in Worchester's 14th District): "Shall the state representative from this district be instructed to vote for legislation that would allow patients with certain diseases, who have a written doctor's recommendation, to possess and grow small amounts of Cannabis marijuana for their personal use until such time that the federal government puts into effect a distribution system for these patients?"
On the ballot (in Franklin's 2nd District): "Shall the state representative from this district be instructed to vote in favor of legislation that would allow licensed farmers in Massachusetts to grow Cannabis hemp a crop with a 1 percent or less, THC, the active ingredient in marijuana for legitimate agricultural and industrial purposes?"
On the ballot (in Norfolk's 15th District): "Shall the state representative from this district be instructed to vote for a resolution calling upon Congress and the President of the United States to immediately withdraw all troops from Colombia, to stop all gifts of money and weapons to the Colombian army, and to use all $1 billion requested for the Colombian army within the US for urgent health care needs?"
Visit http://www.masscann.org/politics_2002.htm for further information on the initiatives and districts involved.