Medical Pot Users Honor California Attorney General

February 24, 2004

Laura Counts, The Oakland Tribune

OAKLAND -- After a day facing questions about his handling of the gay marriage controversy and a nascent recall effort, state Attorney General Bill Lockyer was honored Tuesday by a medical marijuana patients' group for his support of their legal case.

Other state and local officials were mostly no-shows at an awards ceremony by Angel Wings Patient Outreach Inc. at downtown's Black Box Theater and Gallery.

Lockyer spent about 15 minutes in front of television cameras outside the theater, dismissing the recall talk as a move by the 'extreme fringe of the right wing of the Republican party.'

Inside, he talked about his mother's and younger sister's deaths from leukemia, saying their agony influenced him to support Proposition 215.

'What I used to say about my predecessor and about (Attorney General) John Ashcroft is I suspect they go home at night and watch 'Reefer Madness' -- that's how out of date their views are,' he said, referring to the 1930s anti-marijuana propaganda film.

'We will continue wherever appropriate to assist with these struggles.'

Angel McClary Raich gave Lockyer the 'Triumph Over Fear' award she created because he filed briefs in support of her lawsuit against Ashcroft.

She won an important legal victory in December when a federal appeals court ruled that she and her caregivers are not subject to federal regulations when they cultivate marijuana for her personal use, since there is no interstate commerce involved.

McClary Raich uses marijuana every two hours to cope with a range of illnesses, including an inoperable brain tumor, wasting syndrome and chronic pain.

Her case will likely be appealed to the Supreme Court.

The rail-thin McClary Raich wore a glittering floor-length gown as she presented medals to Lockyer, her lawyers and a few other officials who showed up.

'I am so eternally grateful to you,' she said.

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