Arizona, California officials wary of recent drug law reform

WASHINGTON (AP) — It’s a tricky situation for a senator: Contend that your constituents were duped into passing a law legalizing medical use of illegal drugs — but somehow avoid offending those very constituents.
“How could this happen in Arizona?” Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., asked Monday at a hearing on the propositions passed Nov. 5 by voters in his state and in California easing access to marijuana. “I am extraordinarily embarrassed.”
He said he believes most Arizona voters who supported it “were deceived, and deliberately so, by sponsors of this proposition.”
Arizona’s electorate voted, 65 percent to 35 percent, to let doctors prescribe marijuana, heroin, LSD and methamphetamines for critically ill patients if there is scientific basis for their use.
The California proposition concerns only marijuana. Voters supported, 56 percent to 44 percent, legalizing marijuana cultivation, possession and use for medical reasons, with no prescription required.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and other senators sought increased enforcement of federal antidrug laws to combat the propositions’ impact.
Federal law enforcement officials have said they will pursue California and Arizona drug violators on a case-by-case basis, but have no specific plan yet.
“We’re trying to puzzle through what our response will be,” Barry McCaffrey, director of President Clinton’s Office of National Drug Control Policy, told the hearing.
Hatch gave the administration until Jan. 1 to provide a description of federal policy and options.
“We can’t let this go without a response,” said Hatch.