Pubdate: Thu, 01 Feb 2001
Source: Press Democrat, The (CA)
Copyright: 2001 The Press Democrat
Contact:  Letters Editor, P. O. Box 569, Santa Rosa CA 95402
Fax: (707) 521-5305
Author: Michael Coit, Staff Writer


Some Medical Pot Supporters Urge Sonoma County'S Prosecutor To Either
Set Standards Or Face A Recall

Medical marijuana advocates seeking to recall the district attorney in
Marin County said they will target Sonoma County's top prosecutor if
he also keeps pursuing those cases.

Following this week's acquittal of a Santa Rosa man accused of growing
more marijuana than he needed for medical purposes, the American
Medical Marijuana Association urged District Attorney Mike Mullins to
either adopt guidelines that protect users or leave them alone.

Mullins said his office will work on possible guidelines following
Alan MacFarlane's acquittal.

But Mullins said he was not reacting to the group's letter and instead
needed a medical marijuana case to reach a jury trial to help define
local guidelines under California's law.

The Sonoma Alliance for Medical Marijuana is not part of the recall
threat, and its leaders hope to work with him on guidelines.

The American Medical Marijuana Association is led by Steve Kubby of
Squaw Valley, who helped get Proposition 215 on the statewide ballot
in 1996.

Kubby said the group, based in Dana Point, is taking on several county
prosecutors to defend the voter-approved right to grow and use
marijuana for medical uses. Marin County District Attorney Paula
Kamena faces a May 22 recall election.

"They force patients to defend the law by taking them to trial," Kubby
said. "We are sick people who are trying to stay alive who have been
granted these rights under this law and want to be left alone."

Mullins said he understands such emotions but will not respond to
recall threats.

"We've done this case, and we're going to review what we're doing," he
said. "I've got to do that rather than looking over my shoulder."

Advocates assert the state law doesn't set limits because doctors and
patients should decide how much marijuana is needed medically.

But Kubby said Mullins could set limits that medical marijuana users
will support. He said the city of Oakland's guidelines work because
users are allowed 7 pounds a year, the same amount patients receive
from a now-defunct federal research program.

"It works for police, and it protects patients," he

Kubby, who suffers adrenal cancer, was charged with cultivating
marijuana for sale in Placer County. The case ended in a mistrial with
the jury deadlocked 11-1 in favor of acquittal.

Sonoma County law enforcement officials have resisted setting a local

"The problem for us is to truly distinguish between patients and those
who would profit from the opportunity presented by a statute that is
vague, ambiguous and lacks clarity," Mullins said.

"In the meantime, you have to do it case by case. It's a very painful
process," he said.

"Using the courts harasses medical marijuana users," Kubby

"If they think someone is selling marijuana, do real police work to
establish that crimes are taking place. What gives them the right to
invade homes and say this is too much?" Kubby said.

Mullins said that was "a simplistic notion" because cases can be
brought based on large quantities.

Quantity was at issue in the MacFarlane trial because Sonoma County,
like most counties, has no guidelines.

MacFarlane said he used about 21/2 ounces a week by smoking and eating
it to deal with chronic pain related to the removal of his cancerous
thyroid 25 years ago.

While his defense said plants seized from MacFarlane's home could
produce 3 to 4 pounds, prosecution experts said yields could range
from 13 to 60 pounds.

In acquitting MacFarlane, jurors said they believed the actual figure
was somewhere in between.

"It makes law enforcement know they can't get away with these wild
estimates. It also helps us when we go back to the negotiating table,"
said Ernest "Doc" Knapp, spokesman for the Sonoma alliance. "We will
negotiate and come up with a deal. We can't call the shots."

The alliance has worked with Mullins and law enforcement officials
since the passage of Proposition 215 to prevent arrests of medical
marijuana users.

The alliance doesn't recommend usage amounts, but it does have a list
of "Do's & Don'ts" that Mullins has endorsed. They include getting a
doctor's written approval, including usage in the paperwork, and
seeking a peer approval letter from the Sonoma County Medical

Knapp said the alliance was not involved in the recall

"We're all trying to do the same thing, but our tactics are different.
SAMM believes they're (law enforcement) part of the solution ...
nothing is going to happen unless they're on board," he said.
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