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Legislature Passes Medical Marijuana, Needle Exchange Bills; Wilson Vetoes Them


September-October 1994

Gov. Pete Wilson vetoed a California Assembly bill that would have classified cannabis as a prescription drug (California NORML fax alert, Aug. 18, 1994, Aug. 19, 1994, Sept. 30, 1994; Greg Lucas, "Bills on Pot, Needles Die in Flurry of Vetoes," San Francisco Chronicle, Oct. 1, 1994, p. 1). S.B. 1364 passed the Assembly by a vote of 44-17 and would have allowed doctors to prescribe marijuana to patients. It did not specify how patients would have obtained the drug. Wilson wrote that he vetoed the bill because "the Food and Drug Administration has concluded it [marijuana] is not of use."

Dennis Peron of Americans for Compassionate Use in San Francisco said the passage of the Assembly bill sends "a strong message to Washington and the Clinton administration." Between 1978 and 1992 patients could enroll in a program that allowed them to use marijuana for medical reasons. The White House has refused to re-open the medical marijuana program to patients in need. Medical marijuana activists are now organizing a California initiative for the 1996 ballot to overturn the government ban. [For more information, contact Americans for Compassionate Use, 415-864-1961.]

Wilson also vetoed a needle-exchange bill that would have allowed San Francisco's Prevention Point program to operate legally. The program currently collects and replaces more than 25,000 needles every week. Wilson wrote, "In blunt terms, is it worth reducing the risk of infection to intravenous drug users at the potential for greater cost of undermining all other preventative anti-drug efforts?"