RIP John Vasconcellos, Champion of Human Rights

It is with sadness that Cal NORML reports the death of former California Senator John Vasconcellos at the age of 82.

As well as his other accomplishments, Senator Vasconcellos was a champion of medical marijuana rights. In 2003, Vasconcellos authored SB420, which legalized medical marijuana collectives and established a baseline number of plants that could be grown by patients (at a time when some jurisdictions were allowing only a single plant, if any). He also authored a bill that year extending the lifetime of the California Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research, which his legislation had established in 2010. In 2004, he co-authored a bill to outlaw random drug testing for students in public schools.

Vasconcellos authored the first-ever full marijuana legalization bill in California, introduced by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano as AB390 in 2009. He also authored a forfeiture reform bill in 2000, which was reintroduced by Assemblyman Chris Norby in 2011 as AB639.

In 2013, Vasconcellos phoned Senator Correa to protest Correa's zero-tolerance DUI bill, saying, "You're trying to make me a criminal." In 2012 he appeared at a press conference to protest the raid of Oaksterdam University (pictured). Though his health was such that he needed to sit while speaking, he spoke powerfully against what he called the "federal reign of terror."

Also see: A tribute to John Vasconcellos
John Diaz, SF Chronicle May 25, 2014