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December 12, 1996

Drug Reform Measure Signed Into Law In Arizona

        December 9, 1996, Phoenix, AZ:  Arizona Gov. Fife Symington has signed Proposition 200 into law.  The voter-approved measure, formally known as the "Drug Medicalization, Prevention and Control Act," drastically reforms state drug policy by shifting the emphasis from law enforcement to treatment and education.  Symington had threatened to veto the measure last month despite it having passed with 65 percent of the vote.
        Although more attention has been paid to California's recenfly approved medical marijuana law, Arizona's measure is a far more radical departure from current anti-drag strategies.  Specifically, Proposition 200 states the following:
        * Any person convicted of the personal possession or use of a controlled substance shall be eligible for probation.  Eligibility for probation is limited to first and/or second time offenders and is contingent upon an individuals participation in an "appropriate drug treatment or education program."  State funds will be set aside and made avallable to those unable to pay for such programs.
        * Non-violent persons currently in prison for personal possession of illegal drugs and not serving a concurrent sentence for another crime shall be made eligible for immediate parole and drug treatment, education and community service.  Prisoners so eligible must be deemed not to be a "danger to the general public" by the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency.  Currentiy, the state Department of Corrections has identified 976 inmates who are eligible for release under the new law.
        * Any person who commits a violent crime while under the influence of illegal drugs should serve 100 percent of his or her sentence with absolutely no early release.
        * Any medical doctor licensed to practice in Arizona may prescribe a controlled substance included in Schedule I to treat a disease, or to relieve the paln and suffering of a seriously or terminally ill patient.  In order for the prescription to be valid, Proposition 200 requires the prescribing physician to "obtain the written opinion of a second medical doctor [stating] that the prescribing of the controlled substance is appropriate."  In addition, the prescribing physician must document that scientific research exists which supports the use of the Schedule I drug being prescribed.  Drafters of the legislation maintain that this last clause currently limits the Schedule I drugs that may be prescribed solely to marijuana.
        * A nine-member Parents Commission on Drug Education and Prevention shall be created to establish programs that will increase parental involvement and education about the risks and public health problems caused by the abuse of alcohol and controlled substances.  Members of the commission shall be appointed by the governor for a term of two years.
        "Taken as a whole, the message sent by 65 percent of the Arizona voters who supported Proposition 200 is staggering," announced NORML Deputy Director Allen St. Pierre.  "Never in recent memory have such a large number of American voters so resolutely rejected our nation's federal policy of 'Do Drugs, Do Time.'"
        "This could be a crack in the Berlin Wall," rejoiced Phoenix surgeon Jeffrey Singer, who campaigned for the law.  "Five years from now, people will see Arizona is not suffering from mass addictions and, perhaps, even having rational discussions about decriminalization of all drugs -- that's what the drug warriors fear most."
        "As with We fall of Communism, the drug wars will be over in a few years and America will be safer for it," agreed Arizona NORML Chairman Peter Wilson.  Wilson and other AZ4NORML members are hoping to work with the offices of Gov. Symington and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio to establish "tolerance zones" where patients with marijuana prescriptions may have them filled by state licensed marijuana dealers.
        "Arizona can take pride in being the first state in the nation to realize the 'War on Drugs' is a dismal failure and has gone on long enough," summarized Arizona NORML Secretary William Green, who is licensed by the state to sell and possess marijuana.  "Arizona is set to lead the nation out of the nightmarish 'War on Drugs.'"
        For more information or copies of Proposition 200, please contact Allen St Pierre of NORML @ (202) 483-5500.  Additional information is available from Peter Wilson of AZ4NORML @ (602) 395-0353 or from Sam Vagenas of Arizonans for Drug Policy Reform @ (602) 285-0468. AZ4NORML may be contacted on the Internet @

(Meanwhile) Drug Czar, Secretary Of Transportation Reaffirm
Federal Drug Testing Laws

        December 12, 1996, Washington, D.C.:  Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey and Department of Transportation Secretary Federico Penn held a joint press conference today to issue a strong national warning from the Clinton Administration that the federal transportation drug testing laws will continue to be fully enforced without any effect whatsoever from the recent passage of Proposition 215 in California or Proposition 200 in Arizona.
        The [federal] law is clear," said McCaffrey and Pena.  "If you are a safety-sensitive transportation worker and you're caught using drugs, these propositions don't mean a thing.  You're out of a job."
        The Drug Czar elaborated that users of medical marijuana will not be granted an exemption from federal drug testing regulations.  "The use ... of marijuana under California Proposition 215 or of any Schedule I drug under Arizona Proposition 200 is not a legitimate explanation," he emphasized.  "As a matter of fact and a matter of federal law, marijuana and other drugs listed on Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act do not have legitimate medical use in the United States.  Thus, if you test positive for marijuana, and tell the MRO that a doctor recommended or prescribed the use of marijuana for you, the MRO will [still] verify the test positive" and you will lose your job.
        "Since the passage of these initiatives, it has been clear that the administration would rather work against the will of the voters rather than with them," said NORML deputy Director Allen St. Pierre.
        For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre of NORML @ (202) 483-5500.

Dennis Peron, Others To Appear In Court Next Week

        December 12, 1996, San Francisco, CA:  San Francisco Buyers' Club founder and co-author of California's Proposition 215, Dennis Peron, will appear in Alameda County Superior Court on December 17 to request Judge Larry Goodman for a change of venue.  Peron and five others are charged with several felony marijuana counts stemming from an August 4 raid by state law enforcement on the nearly 12,000 member club.  The defendants contend that the trial should be moved from Oakland to San Francisco because that is where the club was located.
        Peron told reporters that he is looking forward to the trial.  "It's going to be the funniest case in the history of the U.S.," he said.  "They have no proof that we sold pot to anyone who wasn't in legitimate need of it.  This will be the trial that legalizes marijuana [for medical purposes] in the United States."
        Peron also announced that he will reopen the controversial San Francisco club in January to distribute marijuana to people with physicians' recommendations.
        For more information, please contact Californians for Compassionate Use @ (415) 621-3986.  CCU may be contacted on the Internet @: