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‘OK, guys, on the count of three…’

By Josh Richman
Wednesday, February 17th, 2010 at 7:26 pm in California State Senate, marijuana.

At a news conference this morning in Sacramento on the results of state-funded medical-marijuana research, former state Sen. John Vasconcellos, D-Santa Clara, recounted an interesting tale about how the legislation to fund that research was passed.

Vasconcellos started drafting such a bill after California voters had approved Proposition 215 in 1996 to enact the state’s medical-marijuana law; he said it was a bipartisan effort from the get-go, with his staff working alongside then-Attorney General and Republican gubernatorial candidate Dan Lungren’s staff to come up with something that worked for everyone.

But when he eventually brought the legislation forward in 1999, it required a 2/3 vote because it involved an $8.7 million appropriation for the research, he said. He had 23 votes lined up in the state Senate, and four additional Republicans — Jim Brulte, John Lewis, Tim Leslie and someone else he couldn’t remember today (looks from the roll call as if it had to be David Kelley, Bruce McPherson or Cathie Wright) — willing to sign on, but none of them wanted to be the 27th and final vote that tipped the bill over into passage.

So, Vasconcellos said, the four Republican Senators agreed to all say “aye” in unison so that none of them (or, I suppose, all of them) would be the final vote.

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