Lockyer hits pro-pot note?

May 13, 2005

Mike McKee , The Recorder

The grassroots group Americans for Safe Access has no great love for state Attorney General Bill Lockyer, claiming he has waffled on the state's medical marijuana law.

His alleged failure to clarify whether police should abide by Proposition 215, which allows the use of prescription pot, or federal law that outlaws it, members contend, has created a 'culture of resistance' among police.

Two weeks ago, however, the Oakland-based organization issued a press release, proclaiming that the AG had clarified his position on medical marijuana in a footnote in the appeal court case of Juan Maravilla. The AG's office is opposing Maravilla's request for the return of marijuana seized by police at his Antioch home in 2003.

In that footnote, San Francisco-based Supervising Deputy AG Rene Chacon 'acknowledges that - both generally and in the specific context of interpreting the Compassionate Use Act - it is not the province of the state courts to enforce federal laws.'

Kris Hermes, legal director at Americans for Safe Access, called that a 'big victory' for medical marijuana users 'in the absence of a genuine legal opinion.'

Last week, Teresa Schilling, a Lockyer spokeswoman, said the AG had made no concession and that ASA was making too much of the footnote in People v. Maravilla, A108328.

'I don't think there is anything there,' she said.

However, she said, Lockyer is eagerly awaiting the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Raich v. Ashcroft, 03-1454, which should decide the medical marijuana issue once and for all. The AG filed an amicus curiae brief on behalf of the patients, and a decision is due any day.

'[Lockyer's] a staunch supporter of Prop 215,' Schilling said, 'and he strongly believes that patients shouldn't be harassed for using their medicine.'

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