Pubdate: Thu, 10 Feb 2000
Source: Redding Record Searchlight (CA)
Copyright: 2000 Redding Record Searchlight - E.W. Scripps
Section: Front Page
Contact:  PO Box 492397, Redding, CA 96049-2397

Psychiatrist Backs Use Of Marijuana

Superior Court Judge Bradley Boeckman will rule today on whether the ex-wife
of medicinal marijuana defendant Jim Hall will be allowed to offer
last-minute testimony that could discredit Hall's case.

That testimony includes allegations that Jim Hall used marijuana heavily for
many years before his severe back injury and that he sold the drug, Deputy
District Attorney Tim Kam told Boeckman on Wednesday.

The testimony would force the defense to present many more witnesses to
attempt to discredit Linda Hall, which could add weeks to the trial, argued
Jim Hall's attorney, Eric Berg of Redding.

Wednesday was to have been the last day of the defense presentation in the
case against Jim Hall, 38, and his mother, Lydia Hall, 62, both of Redding.
The two are accused of cultivation and conspiracy to cultivate marijuana and
Jim Hall also is accused of possession for sale.

Berg's last witness, the Berkeley doctor who wrote a medical marijuana
recommendation for Hall in 1998, testified Wednesday. Kam called a sheriff's
deputy and a Redding police sergeant as rebuttal witnesses, then asked the
judge for permission to call Linda Hall as a witness.

Under law court rules, prosecutors are supposed to provide witness lists to
the defense before a trial starts.

But Kam said Linda Hall wasn't on that list because she did not contact his
office with an offer to testify until Monday and was not interviewed until

Kam acknowledged that it was Linda Hall who called authorities in March to
tell them that her ex-husband was growing pot in the house he shared with
his mother and that maybe he should have sought her out sooner.

But he said Linda Hall did not contact investigators again until reading
news accounts of the Halls' trial. Kam said she wanted to ''set the record

Jim Hall has testified that he used marijuana on-and-off for several years
after he turned 18, but said he had not used it for at least two years prior
to his 1993 accident. He returned to marijuana use, he said, when he found
that it eased his severe back pain, spasms, depression, nausea and inability
to sleep.

Berg argued that Linda Hall ''snitched off'' Hall in hopes of winning a
hotly contested custody battle over the couple's four children. He contended
that prosecutors simply ''waited until we presented the entire defense case
before deciding to find out a little more about what she had to say.''

Linda Hall ''set him up knowing he is a medical marijuana patient'' because
''she wanted the kids, wanted the welfare money -- money she could get for
those kids,'' Berg argued.

Boeckman said much of what Linda Hall had to say was too old to be relevant,
though he said he likes to get as much evidence before jurors as he can and
that some of Linda Hall's testimony might have been allowed had it surfaced
earlier in the case.

''My concern is that we are so late in trial in this case,'' Boeckman said,
later adding that ''sometimes, unfortunately, witnesses come forward just
too late. The question is, when do we hit that point?''

Earlier Wednesday Berg called to the stand Berkeley psychiatrist Tod
Mikuriya, who has written at least two books on medical marijuana and said
he has studied medicinal pot use for about 40 years.

Mikuriya said he treats patients ''from San Diego to the Oregon border, most
of whom he sees at cannabis clubs. Hall visited him Oct. 30, 1998, carrying
medical records and asking for a marijuana recommendation, the doctor said.

Berg asked Mikuriya why he hadn't limited the amount of marijuana Jim Hall
should grow or use.

''You can't really get a known type of cannabis from a pharmacy. If that
were true you could write a prescription,'' Mikuriya answered, explaining
that marijuana comes in various types and potency, so that a certain amount
of one kind of pot might be enough for a patient, but another would be

Hall's earlier recreational use of marijuana had no impact on his
recommendation, the doctor said.

Kam attempted to paint Mikuriya as a marijuana proponent who does only
cursory examinations and writes marijuana recommendations for almost anyone
who visits him.

''As a psychiatrist ... you don't look at the physical cause of pain, do
you?'' Kam asked.

''No,'' Mikuriya replied, later elaborating, ''as a physician I can diagnose
anything. I'm not limited to diseases of the mind. The mind doesn't exist in
a vacuum.''

Mikuriya would not say how many patients he sees in an average day, but said
he charges for the visits on ''a sliding scale ... from zero to $200.''

During one break when jurors had left the courtroom, Kam told Boeckman that
Mikuriya ''is an expert -- on writing prescriptions.''

During the same break Berg renewed an argument that he should be able to ask
the doctor about ''public warnings the feds made to California doctors'' who
wrote medical marijuana recommendations.

When Boeckman ruled against him, Berg asked for a mistrial, a motion the
judge also denied.
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