Pubdate: Tue, 1 Feb 2000
Source: Redding Record Searchlight
Copyright: 2000 Redding Record Searchlight
Address: PO Box 492397, Redding, CA 96049-2397

Activists Say Any Such Restrictions Would Be Illegal

Local law enforcers want legislation that will allow them to pursue
illegal pot without tramping through medical marijuana patients'
gardens, Shasta County Undersheriff Larry Schaller said Monday.

''We would like to get law enforcement out of medicine so that we can
limit ourselves to addressing those cases that are outside the law,''
Schaller said.

But the measures being proposed for clarification of Proposition 215
are illegal, medical marijuana proponents said in their own letter to
state Sen. Maurice Johannessen, R-Redding.

Both Schaller and Sheriff Jim Pope, who appeared Monday on a Redding
radio show, gave new details of a proposal they've sent to
Johannessen, who is drafting legislation to clear up what they say are
ambiguities in the voter approved Compassionate Use Act.

Medical marijuana proponents say those ambiguities don't really

''It's only a vague law to law enforcement officials who see that much
freedom as a threat to their authority and their federal marijuana
suppression grants,'' said Steve Kubby of the American Medical
Marijuana Association in a letter sent late last week to

Schaller said the proposal sent to Johannessen was developed jointly
by the sheriff's office and the Shasta County district attorney's
office. It was also sent to Assemblyman Dick Dickerson, R-Redding, and
the California State Sheriffs' Association.

''If marijuana is going to be used as medicine in certain cases then
it needs to be treated more like medicine,'' Schaller said. ''The
strength, the dosage, the frequency of use -- that's what needs to be

Local law enforcement is especially interested in that clarification
after the December acquittal of Richard Levin, a 49-year-old Redding
man who grew marijuana for medical use. He was arrested and charged
with possession of the drug for sale.

Last week another medical marijuana case went to trial against Lydia
Hall, 62, and her son Jim, 38, both of Redding. That trial is expected
to last up to six weeks and at least one other is pending.

Those cases have prompted accusations that deputies and prosecutors
are skirting the law approved by voters in 1996.

''It's appropriate to get (the sheriff's suggestions) into the public
forum so people realize we're not trying to defeat the law,'' Schaller

He said law enforcers want state or county health officials to be
appointed to issue permits authorizing medical marijuana use and then
notify law enforcement ''so we're not unduly interfering with what's
in the law.''

In addition, he said, the law should specify a specific number of
plants and amount of processed marijuana that patients can possess and
should limit patients to obtaining prescriptions from physicians who
are familiar with their cases.

''They shouldn't be able to get it from some Dr. Feelgood over the
Internet from Berkeley,'' Schaller said.

The proposal also calls for time limits on doctors' recommendations,
which should be written prescriptions, not oral advice, he said.

The law needs to provide ''some clarification that the condition for
which it is prescribed is life-threatening or debilitating'' and
clarification of the places patients can smoke pot, Schaller said.

Finally, the law also should establish what strengths, or dosages, are

''There's a tremendous disparity in quality of marijuana, a
significant difference in THC content, and therefore potency,'' he

All those issues ''need to be resolved so our resources aren't
misdirected,'' he added.

But Kubby's letter to Johannessen says those resources already are
misdirected because the California constitution mandates that as an
initiative statute approved by voters, Prop. 215 ''cannot be limited
or restricted by anyone, including sheriffs, district attorneys, the
attorney general or even the legislature, unless approved by the electors.''

He argues that the law clearly states that marijuana can be used to
treat any number of specified illness and pain or ''any other
illness'' for which it gives relief. Legislators cannot limit that,
said Kubby, who is national director of the American Medical Marijuana
Association, which has an office in Dana Point just south of Los Angles.

''We know most police and elected officials hate this law, but isn't
that what tolerance and democracy are all about -- recognizing other
people's rights -- even the ones you may find personally repugnant,''
he wrote.
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