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Thursday, June 11, 2009

'Joint Resolution' Could End Crackdown On Medical Pot in CA

Sen. Mark Leno today announced he has introduced a "joint resolution" to end the federal crackdown on medical marijuana use in California. While this is a matter of serious legislation, one can't help but notice the howler of a marijuana-related "joint" resolution. Leno's spokeswoman, Ali Bay, confirmed that this was not an attempt at a cute double-entendre by the senator; "We do not have any choice in the wording." If you're going to introduce legislation simultaneously to both houses, this is what you've got to call it. So there you go.

In addition to calling for an end to Drug Enforcement Agency Raids -- such as the one on San Francisco's Emmalyn's California Cannabis Clinic in late March, Leno's bill (SJR 14) requests the creation of "comprehensive federal policy to ensure safe and legal access to medical marijuana for patients who benefit from its therapeutic use."

The bill will be heard in committees later this month. Our calls to Leno and members of medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access have not yet been returned. More as we know more.

UPDATE, 12:35 p.m.: Americans for Safe Access Spokesman Kris Hermes notes that "there will be some people who seize upon the wording" of this "joint resolution" -- but "the real issue is the message the state is sending to the federal government that it's not acceptable to interfere in the implementation of California's medical marijuana law."

Hermes says the votes are there for the resolution to pass the Senate and head to the Assembly, which he he expects will happen sometime in July. Since this is a non-binding resolution, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's signature is not required.

UPDATE, 1:30 p.m.: Leno was less willing to predict success than Hermes -- "I don't presume anything. My experience is dealing with medical marijuana is always a challenge. I've often said legislators are behind their voters on this issue."

He predicts it will first be heard in the Health Committee next month before moving to the floor.