Pubdate: Tue, 23 Oct 2001
Source: Orange County Register (CA)
Copyright: 2001 The Orange County Register
Bookmark: (Cannabis - California)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


The decision to prosecute Marvin Chavez, founder of the Orange County 
Patient Doctor Nurse Support Group, a well-known supporter of medical 
marijuana and a patient himself, has been handled poorly in almost every 

The raid on Mr. Chavez's home and the seizure of cannabis plants growing in 
his back yard - without acknowledging his patient status (he showed the 
Santa Ana police a recommendation but they didn't bother to check its 
validity) or leaving him any medicine - was bad enough. To inform him of 
prosecution by newspaper rather than by personal notification was 
unnecessarily callous.

Vickie Hix, the Orange County deputy district attorney who is handling the 
case, did tell us that Mr. Chavez will be officially notified by mail of 
the time and place for his Nov. 5 arraignment. She also said it would be 
inappropriate to discuss specific aspects of the case now that charges have 
been filed. But several questions demand answers.

Mr. Chavez is charged with two counts: cultivation of marijuana (under 
Section 11358 of the Health and Safety Code) and possession of marijuana 
for sale (Section 11359). Ms. Hix told a reporter, "We simply felt there 
was an excessive amount of marijuana for personal use."

But a decision to prosecute shouldn't be based on personal feelings. 
Section 11362.5 of the Health and Safety code, approved by the voters as 
Proposition 215 in 1996, exempts patients with a recommendation from a 
licensed physician from the laws against cultivation, possession and use of 
marijuana. The law doesn't specify an amount of marijuana beyond which the 
exemption is nullified. It simply exempts bona fide patients. How difficult 
is that to understand?

Even if the police believe he had "too much," why didn't they leave at 
least some at his home? Shouldn't the district attorney's office, after 
checking the validity of his physician's recommendation, release some of 
Mr. Chavez's property to him so he won't be forced to resort to the black 

The second question Ms. Hix declined to discuss is what evidence exists, 
beyond the sheer number of plants, that Mr. Chavez was engaged in sales? If 
it is based only on the quantity of cannabis in Mr. Chavez's home, then the 
arrest and prosecution look like harassment, pure and simple.

We'll be watching to see if the prosecution and courts respect rather than 
ignore the law the people passed.
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