California Senate Ecstasy Bill Dead; Assembly Bill Weakened

On Tuesday, January 15, 2002, the California Assembly and Senate Public Safety committees held hearings on AB 1416 and SB 1103. Identical in content, these bills not only proposed to class Ecstasy as a Schedule I drug, they also threatened to impose a 90-day mandatory minimum sentence for using or being under the influence Ecstasy.  Attorney Richard Glen Boire, of the Center for Cognitive Liberty & Ethics, joined representatives from several organizations, including the Drug Policy Alliance, in opposition to the bills.

At the Assembly hearing on AB 1416, the chairman informed those present that Section 2, (which would have set a 90-day mandatory minimum for being under the influence of MDMA) had been struck from the bill. Dr. Charles Grob, who led the first FDA approved study of MDMA and is currently Director of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Richard Glen Boire, and a representative from the California Attorneys for Criminal Justice applauded the deletion of Section 2, but voiced opposition to the bill’s proposed classification of Ecstasy as a Schedule I drug.  Despite convincing arguments made against the bill, Senator Leach’s frighteningly ignorant statement concerning the risk facing kids who try “to get off the drug cold turkey, and die” persuaded the Assembly Committee to pass the altered bill.

With regard to the Senate version of the bill (SB 1103), Dr. Grob educated the Senators on the repercussions that Schedule I status would have on the scientific study of MDMA. He also pointed out the detrimental effect that the “under the influence” portion of the bill could have on those who might need medical care after taking MDMA, but fear arrest if they should seek help. Senator Margett, the author of the bill, continually stressed the need to protect the children who he said were incapable of making decisions for themselves concerning drugs. Richard Glen Boire rebutted Senator Margett by pointing out that throwing young people in jail, ripping them out of school and away from their families for 90 days, hardly protects them from harm. Mr. Boire additionally addressed issues of personal freedom and autonomy, noting that the bill would create a “thought crime” based entirely on a person’s state of consciousness without any regard for whether the person was causing any harm to others. This, argued Boire, made the bill unconstitutionally overbroad.  

The Senate effectively killed the bill with a 3-2 vote in opposition. The Assembly bill still has the opportunity to move forward, but it is expected to die on account of MDMA’s failure to meet the criteria for placement in Schedule I.

For more information on the status of the bills, please blip to:

http://www.cognitiveliberty.org/dll/sb1103index.htm

About the Center for Cognitive Liberty & Ethics
The Center for Cognitive Liberty & Ethics is a nonpartisan, nonprofit, law and policy center working in the public interest to protect fundamental civil liberties. The Center seeks to foster cognitive liberty – the basic human right to unrestrained independent thinking, including the right to control one’s own mental processes and to experience the full spectrum of possible thought. Web site: http://www.cognitiveliberty.org

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