Pubdate: Wed, 26 Jan 2000
Source: Redding Record Searchlight (CA)
Copyright: 2000 Redding Record Searchlight - E.W. Scripps
Contact:  PO Box 492397, Redding, CA 96049-2397


More than three years after voters passed the medical marijuana initiative, 
there's finally a legislative effort to determine how just much pot an ill 
person can grow and possess.

Our own Sen. Maurice Johannessen, R-Redding, is stepping forward with a 
promise to draft an urgent state law to settle Proposition 215's unanswered 
question of what amount of medicinal marijuana is ``reasonable.''

What a relief that would be. Shasta County Sheriff Jim Pope and law 
enforcement in general need some help in exactly what their role is in 
this, as they are now caught between seemingly conflicting state and 
federal laws.

The legislation would benefit both patients holding doctor's prescriptions 
and law enforcement officials who have been left to interpret the act on 
their own.

Johannessen intends to consult with law enforcement and other experts while 
formulating his bill. He would do well to have Tehama County Sheriff Clay 
Parker testify on the innovative approach his office took by coming up with 
its own set of rules in the absence of any state direction, and without 
federal intervention. There was an attempt last year to clarify the law 
with the issuance of medical marijuana identity cards.

The legislation, Senate Bill 848, is stalled. Guidelines would go far in 
removing the fear of arrest among covered users and keep officers from 
wasting their time on cases that turn out to be legitimate. For example, 
guidelines could have spared the time and expense of prosecuting pot 
patient Richard Levin of Redding, and keep in mind that this prosecution 
and everything surrounding the Levin case includes a lot of taxpayer money.

A Superior Court jury found him not guilty of growing marijuana for sale 
after his arrest for cultivating 41 small plants and possessing 22 ounces 
of the drug. His case has turned into a legal tug-of-war with federal 
agents confiscating the evidence despite Judge Bradley Boeckman's directive 
that the marijuana be returned. Rules also might have prevented Redding 
residents Jim Hall and his 62-year-old mother, Lydia, from going to trial 
this week for growing marijuana despite their claim that it was a medical 

Shane Navarro of Anderson is using a Proposition 215 defense in his 
upcoming court case. In Trinity County this month, the case of Russell Amos 
didn't even make it to trial because a judge determined the Denny man's 
marijuana stash was for medicinal purposes.

It's time to stop charging people in these circumstances and quit relying 
on the courts to sort everything out. We hope the Legislature, district 
attorneys, police chiefs and sheriffs throughout the state get behind 
Johannessen's plan to bring some order to the chaotic enforcement of 
Proposition 215 and bring to a halt this legal 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake