By Ray Stern
By Ray Stern
By New Times
By Amy Silverman
By Stephen Lemons
By Stephen Lemons
By Monica Alonzo
By Chris Parker
The place looks like Cheech and Chong's version of the afterlife. On the table, bags of pot and a jar brimming with half-smoked joints compete for space with bongs, pipes, roach clips and tins of green cookies, the main ingredient being--you guessed it--pot. There's a box of Cheez-Its nearby.
Buds of pot swim in jars of 150-proof Everclear. While deftly rolling a joint, the man explains that the grain alcohol leeches out the THC, the ingredient that gives marijuana its mind-altering powers. When sipped, it delivers a kick similar to smoked pot. "It's a tincture," he explains. "Just like they used to use it in the old days."
The man is 41, but his unlined face and Beavis-and-Butt-head physique make him seem much younger. "It's the pot," he explains. "It keeps you young." Then, on a conspiratorial note: "They don't want that getting out."
Meet Glaucoma Jim, Arizona's self-appointed poster child for marijuana as medicine. There's a good chance you've seen him. Ever since Arizona voters approved Proposition 200--the Drug Medicalization Prevention and Control Act of 1996--last month, Jim, who asks that his last name not be used ("The family sort of gets freaked out"), has received more than his share of 15 minutes of fame.
"[A TV news crew] came in here last week," Jim rasps. "They had me smoking bong after bong after bong. It got sorta rough after a while, let me tell ya."
"Yeah, you were really complaining," joshes Marci, Jim's young companion.
Glaucoma is a buildup of pressure inside the eyeball that harms the optic nerve. Supporters of medical marijuana say it eases the pressure. Jim swears by it.
Jim claims to be an organizer of a sort of underground railroad that occasionally guides the similarly afflicted on trips to the Netherlands, where relaxed drug laws allow doctors to write prescriptions for just about anything, including marijuana.
Jim gingerly unfolds his own tattered prescription form from Holland dating from July 1995. His treatment calls for one gram of marijuana an hour.
Given his fixation, one would think Glaucoma Jim would be celebrating Arizona's embrace of Proposition 200. To the contrary, he's blithely unconcerned.
One glance at the coffee table is ample explanation. If marijuana is medicine, Jim is a pharmacist.
For Proposition 200's opponents, Jim--a man whose life revolves around pot--represents the bogeyman. So do "pothead doctors" who they fear will churn out prescriptions for marijuana and other, more powerful drugs.
All of which misses the point entirely, says Dr. Jeffrey Singer, a Valley general surgeon who served as Proposition 200's medical spokesman. Though his specialty is not one that would ever require him to prescribe pot, he was anxious to back the measure.
"It's not about whether we can start prescribing marijuana to everyone who asks," Singer patiently explains. "It's about seeing drug abuse as a medical problem versus a criminal problem."
So why did he and a dozen other doctors lend their names to the pro-Proposition 200 campaign?
"Because it's clear that what we've been doing to combat drug abuse has not been successful," he says.
Nearly two thirds of Arizonans who voted November 5 apparently agree. They roundly endorsed Proposition 200, which, as it turns out, may have had less to do with marijuana as medicine than you may think.
Instead, its backers say, Proposition 200's focus is much broader, seeking to steer people arrested for possessing drugs into treatment programs and away from overcrowded prisons. Supporters describe it as nothing less than a paradigm shift in the way people have come to view drugs and drug abuse.
Despite the support it received at the polls, Arizona's initiative--and a marijuana-as-medicine measure approved by California voters--has come under attack from some highly placed people who say voters in both states made big mistakes.
The critics, ranging from congressmen to prosecutors and state legislators, have plainly stated that they would like nothing more than to see the Drug Medicalization Prevention and Control Act of 1996 go up in smoke.
In the weeks since its passage, Proposition 200's detractors have argued that the measure is not so much a referendum on Arizona's willingness to surrender in the war on drugs as a measure of voters' gullibility.
If the criticism sounds familiar, there's a reason. Arizona has a long and storied tradition of deceptive ballot measures.
Such complaints were leveled by those who unsuccessfully opposed Proposition 102, the juvenile-crime measure backed by Governor J. Fife Symington III.
Attorney General Grant Woods, one of Proposition 102's most outspoken critics, called the measure an old-fashioned "bait and switch" scheme, in which buyers are shown the real thing, then sold a shoddy imitation. The juvenile-crime initiative's backers asked voters to approve a measure that would crack down on violent juvenile offenders by requiring their automatic transfer into adult courts. It struck all the right chords. And it worked. But there was just one problem: Almost all juveniles charged with committing violent crimes were already winding up in adult courts.
Likewise, Arizonans for Drug Reform sold Proposition 200 to the public as a get-tough initiative. The introductory sentence of the ballot measure reads, "A 'yes' vote shall have the effect of requiring entire sentence to be served by persons who commit violent crimes while on drugs . . ."
But Proposition 200 appealed to compassionate voters, too, because it allows ill people to get marijuana and other illegal drugs, provided they have the consent of two physicians who must cite research showing the benefit of the drug. It also requires first- and second-time offenders convicted of personal drug possession (as opposed to possession for sale) to receive court-supervised treatment and probation as an alternative to jail time. The new law also would make eligible for parole roughly 900 prison inmates currently serving time for possession, subject to the approval of the state Board of Executive Clemency; and would create a nine-member commission tasked with educating parents about drugs.
Mike Walz, a Phoenix attorney who specializes in defending marijuana-possession cases, agrees that the new Arizona law is "more of a symbolic change than a practical one" because it stresses treatment over incarceration. Walz notes that under the old system, a person with no priors busted with a small amount of pot or other drugs likely saw the sentence reduced to a misdemeanor, with the offender paying fines and surcharges of $750 to $1,200.
Under the new law, that same person would be forced into a treatment program. "The result is not more lenient," he says. "It's actually more onerous, in a way."
Chief among Proposition 200's critics is Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley. His was among the loudest voices to speak out against the measure, though somewhat belatedly. And now that it has passed, he appears intent on making up for lost time.
On December 2, Romley testifed about Proposition 200 before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. The hearing--hastily convened to address the Arizona initiative as well as California's Proposition 215, which gives physicians power to prescribe pot--received wide coverage.
Calling Proposition 200 "a nightmarish initiative," Romley told the committee that it could eventually lead to legalization of all the drugs listed on Schedule 1 of the federal Controlled Substances Act, including LSD, methamphetamine and heroin. (Schedule 1 drugs are deemed to have high potential for abuse, lack accepted medical uses or are unsafe for use, even under medical supervision.)
"By publicly mischaracterizing their initiative as being tough on violent drug offenders, while at the same time being compassionate to those who are seriously ill, these proponents of Proposition 200 engaged in a deception which was successful beyond their wildest dreams," Romley said.
He went on to say that Proposition 200 will present Arizona lawmen with a "Hobson's choice" when they come upon people carrying illegal drugs and a doctor's prescription.
Republican Senator Jon Kyl testified that he was "extraordinarily embarrassed" that Arizonans had been fooled into approving such a dangerous initiative, which garnered 65 percent of the vote, almost 10 percent more than Kyl received in 1994.
And the committee's chairman, Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, said the law empowered "pothead doctors" and flew in the face of medical science, which has yet to formally recognize marijuana as beneficial.
Marvin Cohen, a Phoenix attorney who served as treasurer and legal counsel for Arizonans for Drug Reform, also addressed the committee. He says Proposition 200's intent has been distorted by the media and politicians.
"The real thrust of this is not to prescribe drugs to the terminally ill," he says. "That's a marginal part of it. What we are saying is that a drug addict has a medical problem--not a criminal problem. And what we would like to do is go after the drug problem the same way we've been going after tobacco--on the demand side. Are the tobacco companies happy with that? No. And would a drug dealer be happy with that? Definitely not.
"The perverse thing is that Orrin Hatch is doing exactly what serves the drug dealers best."
Cohen says Arizonans should be embarrassed by Kyl's remark.
"He's telling you that you're not smart enough to figure out what you're voting for--that you're not intelligent enough to read it for yourself and reach your own conclusion," Cohen says.
The text of the amendment was plainly laid out on the ballot and in voters' guides. The only possibility for ambiguity lies in the definition of what a Schedule 1 substance is. Which begs the question: Why did Proposition 200's supporters include all Schedule 1 drugs, and not just marijuana, in the initiative?
"The emphasis is really on marijuana, which is probably the only Schedule 1 drug that will ever be determined to have any medical benefit," explains Sam Vagenas, who chaired Arizonans for Drug Reform. "We just included the others in case this issue came up again in the future."
Though the Arizona and California initiatives have been lumped together by critics, Arizona's law is far more restrictive. True, the California initiative only dealt with pot. But Proposition 215, approved by 56 percent of California's voters, comes much closer to de facto decriminalization of marijuana than Arizona's because it allows people to possess marijuana for personal use on the oral advice of a single physician.
It appears that California lawmen have resigned themselves to living with medical marijuana. On December 3, California Attorney General Dan Lungren, a Republican and a foe of medical marijuana, met with 300 county prosecutors, sheriffs and police chiefs in an effort to map the uncharted terrain of Proposition 215.
"The voters have spoken," Lundgren said. "We must now act responsibly to carry out this law, as the voters intended. We must realize voters meant that marijuana should be used only as an occasional exception, for someone who is seriously suffering and under the direct supervision of a physician."
Arizona lawmen have been slower to respond.
"Frankly, we're not at the point where we can make that kind of statement," says Romley spokesman Bill FitzGerald, adding that "there's still too much that needs to be ironed out" before prosecutors advise police on how to follow the new law.
The physician is a busy man, with a successful practice and a case load of more than 125 patients.
He is an oncologist, a specialist at fighting the cancers that will afflict one in five of us, and he has agreed to talk--briefly--about drugs, a topic about which he knows a great deal. With a flourish of his hand, he can summon forth the newest, most expensive, most heavily regulated substances known to man and bring them to bear on his patients' miseries.
His comments come with one condition: that his real name not be used. "So, you're gonna call me 'Dr. Smith'?" he jokes. "I think I like the sound of that more than 'the Pot Doctor.'"
His request for confidentiality is understandable. Marijuana and its medical use is still a topic of debate within the corridors of medicine. According to a 1991 study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, 44 percent of cancer specialists like Dr. Smith supported marijuana as an effective treatment for the nausea that often accompanies chemotherapy.
So, are members of the medical profession itching to exercise their newly won powers to prescribe joints to their patients? The doctor laughs.
"I'll just say we're all watching it all very closely," he says. "I don't think anyone is willing to put their licenses or their professional reputations on the line over this just yet."
Part of the problem, he says, is that Proposition 200 requires doctors to cite scientific research supporting the prescription. "And the fact is, that research just isn't out there right now," he says.
But, hey, 44 percent of oncologists can't be all wrong.
Dr. Smith says he first learned about marijuana's peculiar qualities, which include a calming of the stomach and a stimulation of the appetite, during an uncontrolled experiment in college. "Let's just say I inhaled," he says. The first time he ever "prescribed" it to a patient, though, was during his residency, more than a decade ago.
"Really, the guy approached me about it first," he says. "He was mid-40s, pretty advanced case of pancreatic cancer. Just miserable. And one day he just asked me flat-out, 'What if I smoked marijuana?' None of the other antiemetics [stomach-soothing drugs] were doing him much good, so I figured, well, it certainly couldn't hurt."
And it didn't, Smith says. Though the man later died, the marijuana went a long way toward easing his suffering. Since that time, Smith says, he has suggested it to "more than a few" patients, but with caution.
"Obviously, if it's some babushka who looks like she's never seen it before, I'm not going to come out and say, 'Hey, grandma, you know how to roll a joint?' But if it's someone who looks like they're probably pretty familiar with it, grew up around it, then I might ask, 'Hey, can you get pot?' And usually, it's not that tough."
Smith's opinion of the drug is a stark contrast to that of another physician who admits to inhaling, Dr. Michael Loes, director of the Arizona Pain Institute at Maricopa Medical Center. Loes says pot complicates things because of its interaction with other painkilling drugs. He feels so strongly about it, in fact, that he's likely to tell patients who get high to take a hike.
"There are patients who tell me they smoke pot for pain, and if that's the case, it alters our relationship," he says. "I will not prescribe opiates [drugs derived from opium such as morphine and Dilaudid] to a patient who smokes pot. Period.
"Marijuana is a mind-altering drug, and it's problematic in any pain-management program, especially when you start getting into the potency of the stuff [pot] that's out there today."
Loes adds that approved drugs such as the latest batch of powerful antiemetics and synthetic forms of THC obviate the need for doctors to prescribe pot.
Not surprisingly, the Arizona Medical Association remained officially neutral throughout the election and has yet to state an official position on the matter.
"I don't think you're going to hear too much from us until the Legislature is finished fleshing it out," says Tania Graves, ArMA spokesperson. "There's just too much up in the air right now."
It is not clear what, if anything, the Legislature--or anyone else--can or will do to tweak Proposition 200 now that it has become law.
On December 6, Governor J. Fife Symington III announced that he would not veto Proposition 200, as he had threatened to do on election night. In "allowing" the law to take effect (there were compelling arguments that Symington lacked the authority to veto a voter-approved initiative), the governor declared that the Legislature could make needed adjustments to the law.
Following the Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., Thomas Constantine, head of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, told the Los Angeles Times he would look into the possibility of deputizing California and Arizona lawmen as federal agents who could then arrest people carrying drugs under prescription.
"Can state or local officials seize marijuana as contraband under federal law and turn it over to federal law enforcement? That's the one we are looking most closely at," Constantine said. "It remains to be seen."
But Constantine stopped short of promising to send additional federal agents into Arizona and California. Critics of the plan pointed out that even if he did, he would only heap more work onto already swamped federal prosecutors.
Besides, Marvin Cohen says, the feds have traditionally steered away from smalltime users of the kind that would likely be snared in such a move.
Without additional federal agents, and without local cops deputized to act as federal agents, it is unlikely that those carrying Schedule 1 drugs prescribed by a doctor would ever face arrest or prosecution in Arizona.
As for Proposition 200's other provisions--steering users away from prison and into treatment programs--Cohen says there's nothing the Legislature or Congress can do, short of grumble.
"It's not like the medical provision," he explains. "There's no question of pre-empting the federal law whatsoever."
That may be, but one Capitol insider says the Arizona Constitution gives legislators broad powers when it comes to interpreting the draft legislation contained in ballot initiatives and making it jibe with laws already on the books.
"They could theoretically make both technical and substantive changes," the observer points out.
Whatever the case, legislators and other state officials will soon face some thorny issues. Republican Sue Gerard chairs the House Health Committee, which will be responsible for determining how much the law's education and treatment provisions will cost the state.
"My feeling is, it's going to be an awful lot [of money]," she says. "And I'm also wondering how many people are going to be going into these treatment programs.
"My initial feedback is that most of it will probably be handled through the courts. And there are already laws for overprescribing, so any doctor who just started handing out joints would still be subject to punishment.
"Besides, isn't it all sort of meaningless until the feds take it [marijuana] off Schedule 1?"
Gerard has a point. Even if local doctors come forward to prescribe medical marijuana, their patients will still have to turn to the black market to get them filled.
And as long as pot remains a Schedule 1 drug, no pharmacists will fill prescriptions for it, says Lynn Lloyd, executive director of the state Board of Pharmacy.
"There are no pharmacies in Arizona and none nationally that I can think of that the DEA authorizes to distribute Schedule 1 substances," says Lloyd, noting that the DEA only authorizes a select few physicians engaged in research to administer Schedule 1 drugs.
So what, exactly, was the point of including a provision giving physicians the power to prescribe Schedule 1 drugs in Proposition 200?
"I think's it blatantly obvious we were trying to send a message to the feds, to get them to rethink some of the reasons why marijuana is listed on Schedule 1," says Sam Vagenas.
While legislators mull their options, officials at the state Board of Executive Clemency, who must determine which of the 900 inmates eligible for parole under the new law should be released, will also be scratching their heads.
Duane Belcher Sr., the board's chairman, says that within 90 days the state Department of Corrections will forward him a list of the inmates eligible for parole under the new law.
"We will comply with the law," he says. "The board shall parole someone, providing he's not a danger. But by some people's definition, a burglar can be dangerous.
"But if it's clearly someone whose only crime is that they're an addict, they'll probably be released."
There is irony in the fact that Arizona--a state whose Legislature embraced Freon and whose voters once rejected a Martin Luther King Jr. holiday and approved a get-tough juvenile-crime initiative--now finds itself in the national limelight for a more liberalized approach to the war on drugs.
And there has been no shortage of national media attention. The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times and several national TV news programs all have weighed in on Arizona's groundbreaking move.
Somewhere, Carl Hayden must be doing backflips.
"It is kind of strange, because we are, after all, talking about Arizona," concedes Sam Vagenas, chair of Arizonans for Drug Reform. A savvy politico, Vagenas quickly catches himself and goes into spin cycle.
"But I think it just goes to show that the people are way out front on this one. I think everyone realizes that our current drug policy is a failure."
One of Vagenas' favorite anecdotes involves prison inmates who have taken the "Do Drugs, Do Time" stickers that adorn the bumpers of many cop cars, sliced them down the middle and pasted them back together to say: "Do Time, Do Drugs."
"Really, what happens is we send these guys to jail, and all they learn is how to become better dealers, how to cook the stuff up," he says. "We're paying to house all of these people so they can learn how to use, make and sell drugs. It's crazy."
And, as Proposition 200 supporters point out, expensive. A Rand Corporation study in 1994 found that reducing cocaine use by 1 percent through enforcement and punishment is seven times more expensive than treatment.
The cost of locking up a person in Arizona runs about $17,000 annually, and constructing even minimum-security lockups costs about $35,000 per prisoner, according to Department of Corrections figures. Proposition 200's backers estimate treatment will cost $2,000 to $4,000 annually, based on figures from the Maricopa County Department of Adult Probation, which already runs a small pilot treatment program.
While a majority of Arizonans may have come to view the war on drugs as unwinnable, it is also indisputable that the campaign Sam Vagenas chaired was among the more cleverly orchestrated and well-financed ever to make its way onto the ballot in Arizona.
The fact that more than half of the $1.5 million dumped into the Proposition 200 campaign came from outside the state has raised some hackles.
Tim Lawless, who chairs the Committee for a Drug-Free Arizona, which opposed Proposition 200, says, "If out-of-state money can hire the consulting firms, hire the petition gatherers and pay for the ads that made this thing pass . . . it's a serious cause for concern, wouldn't you say?"
Just as the national movement to relax marijuana law has brought together such diverse personalities as conservative luminary William F. Buckley, actor Woody Harrelson and New York Governor George Patacki, Proposition 200 lured perhaps one of the more diverse coalitions in Arizona's recent political memory. A list of its backers reads like a who's who of Arizona politics and business:
Secretary of the Interior and former governor Bruce Babbitt; John Norton, former U.S. deputy secretary of agriculture under Reagan; the lion of conservatism, former Republican senator Barry Goldwater; former Democratic senator Dennis DeConcini; and Dr. John Sperling, millionaire founder of the University of Phoenix, who kicked at least $460,000 of his own money into the campaign.
But the name that has drawn perhaps the most attention is not an Arizonan's at all. It is billionaire New York investor and philanthropist George Soros, who contributed $430,000 of his own money to the campaign. Another $300,000 came from the New York-based Drug Policy Foundation, of which Soros is one of the main patrons.
Soros, 65, made his name--and his money--as the manager of the Quantum Fund, one of the most high-yielding offshore mutual funds ever established.
Born in Hungary, Soros, who is Jewish, managed to evade the Nazis and emigrate to London at the age of 17 shortly after the end of World War II. He attended the London School of Economics.
According to his 1995 autobiography, Soros on Soros: Staying Ahead of the Curve, the financier became interested in philanthropic causes in the late 1970s, when his personal wealth had reached $25 million.
Much of his bankroll has been spent furthering what he refers to as "open societies." He writes in his book that growing up under Nazi tyranny made him keenly aware of the opportunities presented by less-restrictive societies, like Great Britain's. Throughout the 1980s, Soros spent millions trying to bring about open societies through education. He established scholarships for blacks living under apartheid in South Africa, and for dissidents from eastern Europe. With the collapse of apartheid and the fall of the Berlin Wall, though, Soros turned his attention to the West. One of his pet causes has become America's war on drugs.
Soros, who declined to comment for this story, writes that "the drug problem as primarily a criminal problem is a misconception" and that "eradicating the drug problem is a false idea."
"A drug-free America is simply not possible. You can discourage the use of drugs, you can forbid the use of drugs, you can treat people who are addicted to drugs, but you cannot eradicate drugs."
So what would he do?
"I would establish a strictly controlled distribution network through which I would make most drugs, excluding the most dangerous ones like crack, legally available," he writes. "Initially, I would keep the prices low enough to destroy the drug trade. Once that objective was obtained, I would keep raising the prices, very much like an excise duty on cigarettes, but I would make an exception for registered addicts in order to discourage crime."
Such words rankle those who fought Proposition 200.
"This is a man who is advocating the outright legalization of drugs," Lawless says. "It's all right there on page 200 of his book. And then the people on the other side turn around and say, 'We're not trying to legalize drugs.' Isn't that a little disingenuous?"
Marvin Cohen, who served as Arizonans for Drug Reform's treasurer and legal counsel, says Lawless misses the mark.
"I don't really care what George Soros was talking about in his book," he says. "This is an Arizona initiative, and the people who lined up to support it were Arizonans. And the fact is, Proposition 200 is not about legalization. Possessing drugs for nonmedical reasons will still be a felony in Arizona, and that's serious stuff."
Cohen adds that criticizing the initiative because it took money from out of state is "like criticizing the U.S. because it took money from France during the Revolutionary War."
Others have gone so far as to try linking Soros to Colombian drug cartels. One of those was Louis Tambs, a Reagan-era appointee who served as U.S. ambassador to Colombia during the mid-1980s.
Tambs, a minor player in the Iran-contra scandal, is now retired and teaching history at Arizona State University. He made the allegation during a mid-October debate, and it cropped up again in the October 18 issue of the Yellow Sheet Report, a strictly controlled political newsletter. Tambs did not return calls requesting an interview.
Tambs' allegations, though, never gained steam. Neither did the rest of the measure's opposition. The silence was so overwhelming as the election neared that it prompted the Arizona Republic to run a page-one story headlined "Lawmen Relatively Silent on Prop. 200."
The opposition Committee for a Drug-Free Arizona didn't file organizational papers with the secretary of state until late September, just weeks before the election.
By that time, the pro-200 machine had already been up and running for almost a year. Its hired petition gatherers had blanketed the state, its ads had saturated the TV and radio airwaves.
"They had ads with little old ladies and these retired law-and-order types saying, 'Even I can see that the war on drugs is a failure,'" Lawless says with grudging admiration. "I mean, who's gonna argue with that?"
And 200's supporters had met with some of the state's more high-profile law-and-order types, from the governor on down.
"We never made any secret about what we were trying to do," says Vagenas. "We met with these people, they had the chance to read the initiative. They knew what was happening."
But they never acted. Their absence is conspicuous even in the 70-page voters' guide published by the state. The section devoted to Proposition 200 is thick with seven arguments for the initiative, signed by everyone from DeConcini to more than a dozen doctors to former lawmen and sitting judges.
The only argument against the measure was signed by representatives from the Libertarian party, who felt the measure didn't go far enough in decriminalizing drugs. "If you want real, meaningful drug reform," the Libertarians argued, "then stop prosecuting people for using drugs. Control the sale of drugs just as we now control the sale of alcohol and tobacco."
So why did leaders in a state with a tradition of getting tough on crime suddenly turn to stone in the face of Proposition 200?
The answer may never be completely known. But those closest to the measure concede that Proposition 102, the juvenile-crime measure, had more than a little to do with it.
Vagenas and Lawless agree that Proposition 102 was the political lightning rod during the election. The measure siphoned off most of the news coverage and the dollars that likely would have been spent battling Proposition 200.
What little money--$32,000--Lawless and his fellow opponents did manage to raise to battle Proposition 200 came from a source that hardly helped bolster their credibility as spokesmen for a drug-free Arizona. According to financial disclosure statements, the three largest contributors to Lawless' committee were the Arizona Licensed Beverage Association, Coors Brewing Company and the Arizona Wholesale Beer and Liquor Association.
Jim Mulcahy has the kind of face that Melville must have envisioned when he conjured Ahab: Ruddy. Pug-nosed. Weather-beaten.
Mulcahy sailed the world in the merchant marine during World War II. He's plied the Great Lakes on the deck of a coal barge. He's twisted wrenches and dug ditches and done just about every other kind of job you can think of.
Mulcahy left the sea behind in 1976, and weighed anchor in Arizona.
He suffers from glaucoma, and says the disease has stricken many of his family members, including his 38-year-old daughter, Sharon Harrington.
Mulcahy would seem as unlikely a proponent of marijuana as you could hope to find--a fact he's swift to acknowledge.
He tells of the day several years ago when a well-dressed, professional-looking woman walked up to him while he was gathering signatures for a doomed effort to legalize marijuana.
"She was outraged," he remembers. "She said, 'Look at you--you should know better!'"
A card-carrying member of Arizonans for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or AZ4NORML--Glaucoma Jim is also a member--Mulcahy will hold forth at great length about the promise of hemp, an industrial form of marijuana that was grown commercially in the U.S. until World War II and was used to make everything from parachute harnesses to rope.
The fiber was deemed so important to the war effort that the government commissioned Hemp for Victory, a public-service film imploring farmers to do their part by growing hemp; the film has achieved a cult status among the plant's contemporary supporters. Today, hemp's proponents tout it as an environmentally safe alternative to everything from plastics to fossil fuels.
But it is marijuana's medical applications that are of the most interest to Mulcahy. He and his daughter reel off stories of others they have met through AZ4NORML who are far worse off than they--people with cancer who use marijuana to keep their food down, people with AIDS who use it to ease their suffering.
Father and daughter produce prescription forms, also from the Netherlands.
"We shouldn't have to go to this extreme," says Harrington, waving the form.
The two say they supported Proposition 200 because they felt it took a "step in the right direction" by recognizing marijuana as medicine. But they are under no illusions about the hurdles marijuana faces in gaining wider acceptance.
"I never thought I'd see something like this on the ballot in my lifetime," says Mulcahy. "But I don't think the fight will be over until long after I'm gone."
Adds Harrington: "You know, the thing is, people try to make us sound like a bunch of junkies or something, and I try to tell them, 'Look, it's not the same thing--it's medicine.' I mean, how many heroin activists have you seen?