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California Proposition 215 (1996)

Proposition 215 was a proposition in the state of California on the November 5, 1996 ballot. It passed with 5,382,915 (55.6%) votes in favor and 4,301,960 (44.4%) against.

Additional recommended knowledge

Also known as the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, the proposition was a state-wide voter initiative authored by Dennis Peron, Anna Boyce [RN], Valerie Corral (, Dale Gieringer, William Panzer, Scott Imler, Steve Kubby [1], San Francisco oncologists Richard Cohen and Ivan Silverberg, and psychiatrist Tod H. Mikuriya, and approved by California voters. It allows those with a valid doctor's recommendation to possess and cultivate marijuana for personal medical use. The Act added Section 11362.5 to the California Health and Safety Code. This law has caused much conflict in the United States between states' rights advocates and those who support a stronger federal presence.

Since the passage of Prop. 215, patients have continued to be arrested, jailed and prosecuted, under the false claim that the voter initiative only provides an affirmative defense and that it is only to be used by "seriously ill patients." In the 1996 Voter's Handbook, the OFFICIAL Title and Summary prepared by the Attorney General Dan Lungren, the State of California informed voters that a 'YES' vote on Prop. 215 would EXEMPT patients and defined caregivers from criminal laws. In fact, the very first sentence of the official title and summary clearly states: "Exempts patients and defined caregivers who possess or cultivate marijuana for medical treatment recommended by a physician from criminal laws which otherwise prohibit possession or cultivation of marijuana."[2]

In the ballot argument against Prop. 215, James P. Fox, President, California District Attorneys Association solemnly warned voters that if Prop. 215 passed, it would legalize marijuana: "This initiative allows unlimited quantities of marijuana to be grown anywhere … in backyards or near schoolyards without any regulation or restrictions. This is not responsible medicine. It is marijuana legalization."[3]

Nowhere in the official Title and Summary does it say anything about an affirmative defense, or any limits or restrictions.

Furthermore, if you refer to the official Analysis of Proposition 215 by the Legislative Analyst, the voters were told, "No prescriptions or other record-keeping is required by the measure." In addition, the voters were reminded by the Legislative Analyst that this initiative also covered any other illness for which marijuana provides relief."[4]

Public officials are also evading their legal responsibilities to protect patients and uphold the state's medical marijuana law, by falsely claiming that "federal law trumps state law."

According to the California State Constitution, such actions are clearly prohibited. Under Article 3, Section 3.5 (c) An administrative agency, including an administrative agency created by the Constitution or an initiative statute, has no power: "To declare a statute unenforceable, or to refuse to enforce a statute on the basis that federal law or federal regulations prohibit the enforcement of such statute unless an appellate court has made a determination that the enforcement of such statute is prohibited by federal law or federal regulations."[5]

Although "Compassionate Use" is now protected in California law, the federal government continues to effect prosecutions under the Controlled Substances Act. The constitutionality of the act was recently challenged, but subsequently upheld by the Supreme Court (cf. Gonzales v. Raich). Upon announcement of the Supreme Court decision, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger briefly suspended the operation of programs related to compassionate use, but was compelled to resume after Attorney General Bill Lockyer issued a memo stating the Supreme Court ruling does not change any laws involving medical marijuana in California, it only confirmed that federal raids by the DEA were in fact legal and could continue to take place.

Arizona approved a relatively similar proposition on the same date.[6]

Proposition 215 has been reviewed twice by the Supreme Court, which left it intact. Nevertheless, government forces at all levels, in both their official capacities and through their private professional organizations, have continued to oppose it even as public pressure, in the form of new medical marijuana legislation in New York and Connecticuit, has been increasing.

See also

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "California_Proposition_215_(1996)". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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