Newshawk: Doug Caddy
Pubdate: Thu, 13 Jul 2000
Source: Arizona Republic (AZ)
Copyright: 2000 The Arizona Republic
Contact: opinions@arizonarepublic.com
Address: 200 E. Van Buren St., Phoenix, AZ 85004

Author: Robbie Sherwood

LANGUAGE OF POT INITIATIVE ARGUED

The backer of an initiative to legalize medical marijuana said it will be the fault of a legislative
panel, not his, if the proposition also grants legal immunity to people who sell drugs to
children.

Michael Walz, chairman of Plants are Medicine, admits that Proposition 201 is poorly worded
and contains a loophole protecting prescribed pot uses from other drug prosecutions. But on
Wednesday he argued against including an explanation of the loophole in a voters guide.

As written, the initiative would exclude anybody with a valid prescription for marijuana from
prosecution on a variety of drug offenses, including selling heroin.

"You are allowing some people to legally sell heroin to children," Walz told members of the
Legislative Council, who approves final wording for the voters guide. "It's the judge who
decides in a criminal court what this initiative means."

Lawmakers on the bipartisan panel scoffed at Walz's claim, and reminded him that it is his
initiative that will become law and not their explanation.

"Don't say I am responsible for this; you brought forth the initiative," said Sen. Rusty
Bowers, R-Mesa. "We just try to explain it."

Proposition 201 is designed to implement a 1996 voter-approved initiative to allow doctors to
prescribe otherwise illegal drugs to seriously and terminally ill patients. After the flaw in the
initiative's wording was discovered earlier this year, several backers pulled out of the
campaign. Walz, an attorney who almost exclusively defends people accused of marijuana
offenses, has persisted.
MAP posted-by: Derek