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Fight continues over the legalization of medical marijuana

By Ryan Gabrielson
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
January 1, 2000
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As the debate over the legalization of medical marijuana continues, Pima county law enforcement has taken a stand against a new initiative which has the support of UA's Libertarian Students.

A current initiative would give the state attorney general the power to honor one doctor's prescription, instead of having to go through two doctors, which is the legal requirement now.

Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik warns that such an action is more than the first step towards legalizing marijuana - it could help make all schedule 1 drugs legal.

Schedule 1 drugs include heroin, marijuana, peyote, mescaline and LSD. These drugs have been deemed to have no medical value and to be highly addictive.

Proponents of the legalization of medical marijuana argue that it helps terminal AIDS and cancer patients, as well as patients with some other conditions.

"I'm not opposed to medical marijuana if that's all it were; it's very deceptive," Dupnik said yesterday. "The public and the media are being lulled into sleep."

"They're trying to medicalize all drugs, PCP and heroin, everything." Dupnik said.

Some UA Libertarians disagree that marijuana legalization presents a threat to society.

"A lot of people think that any steps toward legalization is a green light to use it for any purpose," said Robert Peters, marketing senior and a member of the UA Libertarian Students. "We need to change the focus from incarceration to rehabilitation."

In the past, propositions that would legalize medical marijuana increased the punishment for possession and use of the drug.

"I will support the initiative if it does not increase penalties for recreational users," said John McCoy, management information systems senior and Libertarian Students member.

Both McCoy and Peters said they think marijuana should be legalized for all purposes and doubt that it will have any negative impact.

"Just because a person goes to college doesn't mean they're going to get a Ph.D. Just because a person uses marijuana doesn't mean that they'll go to the extreme," Peters said.

On May 6, proponents of marijuana legalization will gather for the Million Marijuana March through downtown Tucson as other groups do the same in cities across the country.

Some find the event shocking, and the initiative unbelievable.

"Its hard for me to believe the attorney general will be handing marijuana out to people," Dupnik said.

Regardless of the arguments, UAPD said they will continue to crack down on marijuana use.

"Until the legislature changes the law, its still considered illegal and we will enforce the law regardless of personal opinions," said UAPD spokesman Sgt. Michael Smith.

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