Marijuana Advocates Cheer on Hallinan
D.A. calls pot good medicine, part of religious experience
Steve Rubenstein, Chronicle Staff Writer
Thursday, April 18, 2002
Copyright: 2002 San Francisco Chronicle Page A - 7
San Francisco District Attorney Terence Hallinan, preaching to the choir,
told 200 marijuana advocates this morning that marijuana is not only good
medicine but "unquestionably part of religious experience."
The chief law enforcement officer of San Francisco said "thousands of
people are being locked up for their religious beliefs" for smoking
In a half-hour address to the National Organization for the Reform of
Marijuana Laws, Hallinan said prosecution for marijuana possession makes
no sense and reiterated his policy opposing prison sentences for any
The delegates whooped, stomped, applauded and rose to their feet for
several standing ovations for the two-term district attorney and former
member of the Board of Supervisors, long a supporter of marijuana law
"To consider marijuana in the same category as heroin and crack
cocaine, as federal statues do, makes no sense and does not reflect
reality," Hallinan said.
"Right on, Terence," hollered a delegate in a hemp hat.
San Francisco, said the district attorney, is a "second-chance city
that represents freedom" and is an "appropriate place for people
who believe in repealing prohibitions against marijuana."
Hallinan stood in the front of the Crowne Plaza Hotel ballroom, beside
giant posters from NORML's controversial new $500,000 ad blitz featuring
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg saying he had smoked and enjoyed
In his off-the-cuff remarks, Hallinan, a former defense attorney, recalled
four decades of battles against prosecutors, cops, feds, attorneys general
and various other nonbelievers.
To cheers, he said that he was the only district attorney in California to
endorse Proposition 215, the medical-marijuana initiative, and that he had
successfully fought to get charges dropped against the late Mary Jane
"Brownie Mary" Rathburn in Sonoma County in 1992.
To boos, he recalled how former attorney general Dan Lungren tried to keep
him from speaking to a law enforcement meeting in Sacramento.
Following Hallinan's speech, the delegates viewed a videotaped message
from Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura. The former pro wrestler told the
delegates that he wanted to "show my support for the good work you
He went on to say he had eaten up an entire order of hemp-fed beef sent to
him by actor and marijuana advocate Woody Harrelson, another speaker at
"Tell Woody I could use another order," Ventura said.
Afterward, the sidewalk outside the hotel was pungent with the smoke of
delegates taking their morning break. Hallinan, departing from the hotel,
did not stop to check for delegates' medical certificates.
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