CA NORML Legislative News

Governor's Veto of SB 420 Clean-Up Bill Creates Legal Confusion Over Medical Marijuana

Text of Clean-Up Bill SB 1494

Sacramento Jul 19, 2004 . Gov. Schwarzenegger disappointed medical marijuana supporters by vetoing Sen. Vasconcellos' medical marijuana "clean-up" bill, SB 1494, which was intended to clear up misconceptions caused by bad drafting language in SB 420.

In particular, SB 1494 made it clear that the possession and cultivation quantity limits in SB 420 were not intended to limit patients' legal right to have as much medicine as they need - a right guaranteed by the text of Prop 215 - but were only intended to define how much patients with state ID cards could have and still be protected from arrest.

In his veto message, Gov. Schwarzenegger erroneously stated that SB 1494 violated the original agreement behind SB 420. In fact, SB 1494 accurately stated the intent of the task force, which had been misstated by poor drafting language written in a last-minute legislative rush.

"Unfortunately, Gov. Schwarzenegger appears to have followed bogus legal advice from law enforcement interests opposed to Prop. 215," said California NORML coordinator Dale Gieringer.

Ironically, the Governor's veto appears likely to aggravate legal uncertainty surrounding medical marijuana, since the limits in SB 420 conflict with Prop 215. A legal challenge in the courts now seems certain.

Text of Veto Message (July 19, 2004)

I am returning Senate Bill 1494 without my signature.

This bill reverses an agreement that led to the passage of SB 420 (Vasconcellos) in 2003. That statute established quantity guidelines which gave patients and law enforcement clarity in the law with respect to possession of medicinal marijuana under Proposition 215. Reasonable and established quantity guidelines allow medicinal marijuana patients to seek relief from symptoms free from legal questions and permit law enforcement to carry out the law.

Senate Bill 1494 removes the limitation on the amount of marijuana a qualified patient, person with an identification card, or primary caregiver can possess. Since the passage of Proposition 215, local governments have grappled with the interpretation of the voters' intent with respect to how much marijuana a patient may possess for medical use. Senate Bill 420 resolved this issue.

Enactment of this bill would create uncertainty in this area of the law thereby making it more difficult for law enforcement to determine when a person was in possession of marijuana for medicinal purposes pursuant to Proposition 215.

For these reasons, I am unable to sign this measure.


Arnold Schwarzenegger

CA NORML 2215-R Market St. #278 San Francisco CA 94114 (415) 563-5858