Pubdate: Wed, 19 Jan 2000
Source: Redding Record Searchlight (CA)
Copyright: 2000 Redding Record Searchlight - E.W. Scripps
Contact:  PO Box 492397, Redding, CA 96049-2397
Author: Kimberly Bolander, Record Searchlight


Jury Selection Begins Today

A month after one medicinal marijuana patient's acquittal, a Redding mother
and son facing similar charges of drug possession will meet their
prospective jurors today in Shasta County Superior Court.

Jim Hall, 38, and Lydia Hall, 62, of Redding have recommendations from their
doctors approving the use of marijuana to treat their ailments, Jim Hall
said. He suffers chronic pain from a 1993 back injury and subsequent
surgery; his mother uses pot to treat her glaucoma because conventional
medicine gives her blinding migraines, her son said.

''All this (prosecution) has got her terrified. The district attorney is
scaring the crap out of her,'' Hall said about his mother.

Under California's Compassionate Use Act, a voter-approved initiative signed
into law in 1996, patients who have their doctors' oral or written approval
may obtain and use marijuana as medicine. The law does not set limits on how
much marijuana a patient may grow or possess.

On March 16, law enforcement officers found 240 seedling plants in the
Halls' home. At that time no arrests were made, but officers confiscated the
plants, grow lights and about 6 ounces of processed marijuana. After waiting
four or five months, the Halls' Redding attorney, Eric Berg, filed a motion
for the return of the marijuana and equipment, Jim Hall said.

About a week later, the district attorney's office filed charges against the
Halls, for cultivation of and conspiracy to cultivate marijuana. Jim Hall
faces an additional charge of possession for sale.

Deputy District Attorney Tim Kam, who is prosecuting the Halls' case,
declined to discuss it Tuesday. Jury selection for the trial begins this
morning, he said.

Monday, Hall said half the plants he was growing would likely be males,
which don't produce the flowers desired by growers. He would have thinned
out the rest to 50 plants to be grown in 50 indoor pots.

That number would have been in compliance with medicinal marijuana
guidelines approved in Oct. 27, 1998, by the Oakland City Council. Oakland
police and prosecutors allow documented patients to grow 144 indoor plants
or 60 outdoor plants.

Shasta County has no guidelines for the amount of marijuana patients can

Hall said he contacted the Shasta County sheriff's and district attorney's
offices after he got a doctor's approval and before he began growing
marijuana to ask how to comply with county policy.

''They told me, 'We can't give you legal advice. Talk to an attorney,'''
Hall said.

He said he grows marijuana because he can't afford $325 per week for the
ounce he smokes in that time. Without it, Hall said, he would have to go
back to the 14 to 16 extra-strength Vicodin pills he used to take daily,
plus the same amount of Soma, a narcotic muscle relaxer.

''Basically, these pills were killing me from the inside out. So I started
using marijuana, and my pill consumption went way down to four a day, and
I'm currently in the process of quitting (prescription drugs) completely,''
Hall said.

Judge Bradley Boeckman is presiding over the Halls' case. He also presided
at the trial of medicinal marijuana user Richard Levin, who was acquitted by
a jury in December of selling of the drug.

Tuesday, a court deputy returned evidence from that trial to Levin, 49, of
Redding, including a back brace, metal plates that were once surgically
screwed into Levin's back after a serious fall, and a ''roach clip,'' used
to hold a marijuana cigarette.

Friday, Levin expects the Sheriff's Department to give back the rest of the
seized property: about a pound and a third of marijuana, 41 plants -- now
dead -- two scales and Levin's handgun.

In the meantime, Levin will be sitting in on the Halls' trial, he said.

''If the district attorney's office is giving back my marijuana, they can't
be prosecuting others for using it,'' he said. ''The Hall case should not
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