Pubdate: Tue, 11 Jan 2000
Source: Redding Record Searchlight (CA)
Copyright: 2000 Redding Record Searchlight - E.W. Scripps
Contact:  PO Box 492397, Redding, CA 96049-2397
Author: Alex Breitler, Record Searchlight, PATIENT WILL GET HIS POT BACK

Says Return Marks Win For Medicinal Users

It's been 20 months since authorities confiscated 41 seedling marijuana
plants from the back yard of Richard Levin's house in Redding.

Today, Levin will get his plants back, along with 1 pounds of packaged
marijuana, several scales and three guns also taken from his home on May 6,

The plants are long dead, but the 49-year-old Levin - acquitted Dec. 15 on
charges of possessing marijuana for sale - said Monday that their return
marks a symbolic victory for anyone using pot for medicinal purposes under
California's Proposition 215.

The law, passed by voters in 1996, allows for medical marijuana use with a
doctor's prescription. It allows patients to grow a "reasonable amount" of
plants but does not set a specific limit.

While some counties - including Tehama - have established guidelines for
compliance with Proposition 215, Shasta County has not.

"I'm real happy," Levin said Monday after learning a court order had been
filed Friday mandating the return of his plants. "It proves this is a real
law. It's not a big fake."

Authorities also will return several packages of marijuana seeds and a
marijuana grower's handbook.

Levin was diagnosed with hepatitis C in 1991. Two years later, he slipped
on the icy floor of a house he was helping build and fell three stories,
requiring four back surgeries.

Afraid of damaging his liver with prescription drugs, Levin turned to
marijuana in 1994 with an oral recommendation from his doctor. Four years
later, after receiving a tip that Levin had an outdoor garden, sheriff's
officials got a search warrant, found the plants and arrested Levin.

Immediately after last month's verdict, Levin said he would have to talk
with law enforcement officials before deciding whether it's safe to resume
cultivating marijuana. He said Monday that he has an appointment this week
with Shasta County Sheriff Jim Pope to discuss the county's enforcement of
the law.

And while the dead plants returned today will probably end up in his
compost pile, Levin also said there's no doubt he'll return to growing the
drug that he claims eases his pain.

"I don't have anything to hide," he said. "Yeah, I'm going to continue

Reporter Alex Breitler can be reached at 225-8344 or  ---
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