Pubdate: Mon, 30 Jul 2001
Source: Oakland Tribune (CA)
Copyright: 2001 MediaNews Group, Inc. and ANG Newspapers
Author: Chris Conrad
Bookmark: (Cannabis - California)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)

Don't Reduce Access

THERE IS a new effort by Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente to drastically
reduce patient access to cannabis (medical marijuana) in Oakland. The
current guidelines were scientifically derived in 1998 using input from
experts, doctors, staff, patients and police. 

The only long-term study of cannabis dosage, the federal IND program,
provides each patient with one-half to 1 pound of cannabis per month.
Most urban patients and caregivers grow indoors in spaces that cannot
accommodate large plants, so they rely on many small plants. 

Oakland allows 48 flowering plants indoors or 30 outdoors as reasonably
adequate for most patients with a doctor's approval. Naturally, twice as
many starts are required to assure a continuous supply. This tells
police to leave small patient gardens alone. 

Libby Schaaf, aide to De La Fuente, was wrong to tell the City Council
Public Safety Committee that 15 other localities "evaluated the science"
behind the guidelines and disputed it. She was unable to produce any
contradictory science. There is not. 

As a court-qualified cannabis expert, I have sat in court in most of
those jurisdictions and heard police admit under oath that they had no
scientific basis. Only one other scientific criterion has been adopted
in the state since 1998: Sonoma County allows up to 99 plants with no
more than 100 square feet total of garden canopy. 

Police were unable to present even one single example of a bona fide
patient abusing the guidelines. De La Fuente's scheme is simply to deny
patients safe access to medicine. He proposes to arbitrarily slash the
tolerated garden size by 93 percent. 

That is a shameful act. Patients will be unable to supply themselves,
and thus endure constant suffering or be forced into the black market
under threat of arrest. 

If Oakland citizens value truth and compassion, you'd better start
calling your councilmembers to support the existing guidelines. Someday
it may be your health that is on the line. 

Chris Conrad, El Cerrito
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