In other words, the bill would recognize the legitimacy of bona fide patient collectives such as the Los Angeles Cannabis Resource Center, a West Hollywood cooperative of almost 900 mostly AIDS and cancer sufferers. Director Scott Imler, who co-wrote Proposition 215 and uses cannabis to treat seizures, maintains a strict medicinal policy and refuses to have any connection with any broader movement. The club enjoys support from many powerful folk, including Sheriff Lee Baca. In fact, the WeHo City Council loaned the club $300,000 to buy its building last October and gave it a $50,000 renovation grant. Wells Fargo Bank chipped in a large chunk of change to help make the $1.2 million purchase final. “I believe in the state of California that this particular center has proven to be a great success and is run with a tremendous amount of integrity,” Sheriff Baca, a Republican, said in March at the Public Safety Awards Night in West Hollywood. “Scott Imler has done a fabulous job making sure that things are done properly and that people who need these services are getting those services.”
In light of this mainstreaming of medical marijuana, it’s no surprise that SB 187 sailed through the state Senate and will likely pass the Assembly. But it may hit an impasse when it reaches Governor Gray Davis’ office. Like too many centrist Democrats, he’s been as rigidly antagonistic toward medical marijuana as any Bible Belt Republican.
That could prove politically unwise, however. Eight states and the District of Columbia have passed initiatives supporting medical marijuana, and Hawaii has legalized it legislatively. Pandora’s stash box is open, and according to recent polls, three-quarters of the public support medical marijuana, while support for overall decriminalization continues to grow. According to the most recent Gallup Poll on legalization (August-September 2000), while 64 percent of Americans oppose, the 31 percent who support is the highest level ever. This is due primarily to the 47 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 29 who want to legalize.
Until then, those committed to obtaining their medicine legally should consider moving north. Officials in Canada have invited pot growers to apply for licenses to supply small amounts of medicine to the seriously ill by late July. Since 1999, Canada has granted more than 200 patients permission to use cannabis. Members of Parliament, and both the health and justice ministers, are supporting an exhaustive study of current drug policy, and are not ruling out across-the-board legalization of marijuana. Even conservative former Prime Minister Joe Clark is advocating decriminalization. But then, according to a recent survey, 47 percent of all Canadians believe that pot should be legalized.