About | HeinOnline Law Journal Library | HeinOnline Law Journal Library | HeinOnline

31 U. Mich. J.L. Reform 707 (1997-1998)
Proposition 215: De Facto Legalization of Pot and the Shortcomings of Direct Democracy

handle is hein.journals/umijlr31 and id is 719 raw text is: PROPOSITION 215: DE FACTO LEGALIZATION OF POT
Michael Vitiello*
In 1996, California voters passed Proposition 215, officially titled
The Compassionate Use Act of 1996, and popularly known as the
medical marijuana initiative. This initiative allows qualifying peo-
ple and their caregivers immunity from criminal prosecution when
the state attempts to charge them with possession or cultivation of
marijuana. Professor Vitiello uses the medical marijuana initiative
as a case study illustrating flaws in California's ballot initiative
proces He examines the history of the initiative process in Califor-
nia, misleading aspects of the campaign for Proposition 215, and
ambiguities in the proposition's language. Concluding that the initia-
tive process as it now stands fosters poor legislation, Professor
Vitiello assesses several reform measures proposed by the non-
partisan Citizens' Commission on Ballot Initiatives and adds his
own proposed reforms to address the problems of misleading adver-
tisements and misleading ballot pamphlets,
In 1996, California gained national prominence when its vot-
ers again resorted to the initiative process to enact controversial
legislation.1 Proposition 215, entitled The Compassionate Use
*     Professor of Law, McGeorge School of Law; B.A., 1969, Swarthmore College;
J.D., 1974, University of Pennsylvania Law School. I wish to extend special thanks to
Dean Gerald Caplan, whose ongoing support of scholarship at McGeorge has produced
tangible benefits, and to my colleague Professor J. Clark Kelso and former colleague
Professor Adeno Addis for their helpful comments on an earlier draft of this article. I
am extremely grateful to my several research assistants on this project. When
McGeorge students Aura T. Kashin, Stephanie A. Doria and Andrew J. Glendon sug-
gested that we interview Dennis Peron, I did not have the heart to tell them that legal
scholars do not interview real people. Following their suggestion offered rare insight
into the conception of Proposition 215. In addition to their hard work, I was also de-
lighted to work with McGeorge students Jennifer S. Anderson and Catherine L.
Donohue, whose careful research helped bring this project to completion. I also wish
to thank Dennis Peron for allowing us to interview him and to tour his Cannabis Cul-
tivators Club in San Francisco. While this article is critical of some of Peron's actions,
and while not all of his club members may be seriously ill, some of those at the club
were obviously seriously ill, and their gratitude to Peron for his role in providing ac-
cess to marijuana was readily apparent.
1.   See Richard Lacayo, Marijuana: Where There's Smoke, There's Fire, TIME,
Oct. 28, 1996, at 36 (referring to California's initiative process as the tricky practice


What Is HeinOnline?

HeinOnline is a subscription-based resource containing thousands of academic and legal journals from inception; complete coverage of government documents such as U.S. Statutes at Large, U.S. Code, Federal Register, Code of Federal Regulations, U.S. Reports, and much more. Documents are image-based, fully searchable PDFs with the authority of print combined with the accessibility of a user-friendly and powerful database. For more information, request a quote or trial for your organization below.

Short-term subscription options include 24 hours, 48 hours, or 1 week to HeinOnline.

Contact us for annual subscription options:

Already a HeinOnline Subscriber?

profiles profiles most