Pubdate: Wed, 12 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,


DA Doesn't Plan To Change Policy

Acquitted medical marijuana patient Richard Levin won't get his confiscated
pot plants returned until the Shasta County Sheriff's Department is sure
it's legal to do so, officials said Tuesday.

A court order last week mandated the return of Levin's 41 plants, 1 pounds
of marijuana and several firearms seized in a 1998 raid of his Redding
home. Levin, 49, of Redding was acquitted in December by a Shasta County
jury on charges of possessing marijuana for sale.

While he said he's upset about the delay, Levin is still confident he'll
get the rest of his things back.

"The law is very clear," Levin said late Tuesday. "It (the marijuana)
should be given back. But they're going to cause me a lot more courtroom
time and spend more money."

Capt. Ron Richardson, who heads the sheriff's enforcement division, said
the department did not receive a copy of the court order until Tuesday.

"We've made a request of the county counsel to review current state and
federal law to find out if it's legal for a sheriff to return to a person
Schedule 1 (illegal) narcotics," Richardson said. Advice from the county
counsel is expected by the end of the week.

Firearms confiscated during the raid were returned, with the exception of
"a couple held by the court," which will be returned when the court gives
them back to the Sheriff's Department, he said.

Meanwhile, District Attorney McGregor Scott said Tuesday that his office
does not plan to change its policy of prosecuting marijuana cases on a
case-by-case basis.

After last month's verdict, Scott said he planned to talk with jurors
before deciding whether Shasta County needs to establish its own
guidelines. Medical marijuana advocates have called for such guidelines to
help them understand Proposition 215, which allows for medicinal marijuana
use with a doctor's approval but does not specify how many plants or how
much marijuana a patient may possess.

But local guidelines would have no legal effect because Proposition 215 -
also known as the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 - is a state law, Scott said.

"Any standard that the county were to adopt would have absolutely no legal
standing whatsoever," Scott said. "The judge is not going to read in a
trial, 'Shasta County's policy is ...,' because it has no basis in law."

Still, a set of guidelines on how much marijuana is admissible would help
law enforcement officials, said Levin's attorney, Eric Berg of Redding.

"It (a standard) would at least give the police some guidance on who they
should arrest and who they shouldn't arrest," Berg said.

Local law enforcement officials said after the Levin verdict in
mid-December that they planned to wait for direction from the district
attorney's office before deciding whether to establish an enforcement
policy for medical marijuana cases.

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