Pubdate: Mon, 19 Nov 2001
Source: Tahoe Daily Tribune (CA)
Copyright: 2001 Tahoe-Carson Area Newspapers
Author: William Ferchland, Tahoe Daily Tribune
Bookmark: (Cannabis - California)
Bookmark: (Oakland Cannabis Court Case)
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


A street law forum about methamphetamine and marijuana sporadically turned
into a verbal street brawl between presenters and audience members.

The forum drew about two dozen people to an El Dorado County courtroom
Thursday night. It was intended to educate the audience regarding aspects of
drugs and their effects.

"This is an educational forum, not a podium," Deputy District Attorney Lisa
Serafini said as noise escalated.

Jackie Long, a special agent with the California attorney general's office,
travels around the country explaining the effects of drugs to high school
students and community members. A law enforcement officer with a background
in biochemistry, he felt his presentation cut short.

"My purpose was to talk about biochemistry and explain why drugs do the
things they do," he said after the forum. "They just wanted to vent."

Outbursts of opposing views, including suspicions of government propaganda
and drug policies in Europe flying from a dreadlocked marijuana supporter,
dotted the discussion.

Serafini addressed Propositions 36 and 215 after Long's presentation. Most
in attendance favored Prop. 36, which stresses treatment over incarceration
for first-time drug offenders, and found Prop. 215, the embattled medical
marijuana law, to be ambiguous and poorly written.

Frequent interjections by a police officer to wrap up the forum cut short
attorney Richard Speccio's comments. Speccio advised medical marijuana
growers to notify police of their marijuana prescription and number of
plants in their possession to avoid prosecution.

Dean Ceriscitido, a medical marijuana user, attended the forum to receive
opinions from the deputy district attorney. He disliked the prevalence of
the methamphetamine discussion.

"It was a good forum but too confrontational for my taste," Ceriscitido

Many were upset marijuana was coupled with methamphetamine in the
discussion, since they viewed marijuana as a softer drug. Dale Schafer, a
medical marijuana proponent who intends to run for El Dorado County district
attorney, sat calmly in the front while providing questions and comments.
Signatures for his candidacy were collected in front of the courthouse after
the discussion.

"I think it's always beneficial to have these forums but it's unfortunate to
have methamphetamine lumped together with cannabis and be presented by a
gentleman with a gun on (his) hip," he said.

Schafer and his wife, Dr. Mollie Fry, operate the California Medical
Research Center in Cool, Calif. The business, which caters to people who
claim to use marijuana medicinally, and their home were raided in September
by federal drug agents. Authorities are examining the files that were
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