Pubdate: Sat, 22 Jan 2000
Source: Redding Record Searchlight (CA)
Copyright: 2000 Redding Record Searchlight - E.W. Scripps
Contact:  PO Box 492397, Redding, CA 96049-2397
Author: Maline Hazle


As California sheriff’s and police continue to wrestle with the medical
marijuana law, state Sen. Maurice Johannessen said Friday that he will
draft a law to set limits on the amounts that can be grown for medical use.

“State legislators, in their usual fashion, have been driving for cover on
this issue, leaving the sheriff’s in the state and the district attorneys
hanging out there,” said Johannessen, R-Redding.

Controversy has swirled around enforcement of Proposition 215 since it was
approved by state voters in 1996.  Although the law allows patients and
their primary caregivers to grow and use “reasonable” amounts of marijuana
if their doctors recommend it, it sets no limits on how much may be
possessed for personal use.

A wide range of interpretations has followed.  In Tehama County, for
example, patients are allowed to grow 18 seedlings but can keep only six
plants that are beginning to bud.  Once the plants mature they can keep three.

Other counties have said patients can keep three-month supplies of
marijuana but haven’t specified how much that is.

The issue roils on in Shasta County, which has no guidelines for the amount
of marijuana patients  can grow or possess.

A jury acquitted Richard Levin, 49, of Redding last month on charges of
growing marijuana for sale.

Last week, Superior Court Judge Bradley Boeckman ordered sheriff’s deputies
to return marijuana they confiscated when Levin was arrested, but federal
authorities seized the drug Friday.

It’s those kinds of back-and-forth interpretations of the law that
Johannessen  said he wants to eliminate.

“I do not support marijuana use, but it’s not my decision.  It was made by
the people when they voted,” Johannessen  said.

“But it isn’t fair to let the sheriff and the district attorney hang out
there just because the Legislature doesn’t have the guts” to clarify the law.

Johannessen  planned legislation can’t come too soon for local law

Sheriff Jim Pope asked for the senator’s help after the flap over Levin’s
case, Undersheriff Larry Schaller said Friday.

“It’s clear we need to clarify what is a valid prescription and what is a
legal quantity of both processed marijuana and marijuana by prescription,”
Schaller said.

Trinity County Sheriff Paul Schmidt agreed.

“We’ve been hoping the state would do something like that.  It’s very
difficult for law enforcement to decide.  I mean, what do you do?” Schmidt

“This should have been done before the legislation was even passed.”

Shasta County District Attorney McGregor Scott, whose office unsuccessfully
prosecuted Levin, said he supports Johannessen’s effort.  “Absolutely.  We
welcome any effort at the state level to address statewide problems that
are present in this statewide law,” Scott said.

Johannessen  said he will consult with law enforcement and others in an
attempt to develop reasonable guidelines that can be imposed by every
county in the state.

The bill will be introduced as “urgency legislation” so that if it wins
legislative approval it could go into effect as soon as it is signed by the
governor, he said.

“In two or three months we could be done,” he said.

A law proposed last year by Sen. John Vasconcellos, D-San Jose, would
establish a program to issue identification cards to medical marijuana
users who request them.  Ostensibly the cards would alert police that the
holder is allowed to use and possess marijuana.  That bill is currently
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MAP posted-by: Keith Brilhart