Pubdate: Fri, 30 Mar 2001
Source: Berkeley Daily Planet (US CA)
Copyright: 2001 The Berkeley Daily Planet
Author: Robin M. Donald


The Daily Planet received this letter addressed to the City Council:

Regarding the proposed Berkeley Medical Marijuana Ordinance, the Berkeley 
Health and Human Services Dept., headed by Director Fred Medrano, feels 
that "it was wisest to keep allowable plant numbers low and 'include a 
provision in the ordinance for additional amounts if a doctor says its 
OK'." (BDP, 3/26/01) If the Health and Human Services Dept. was concerned 
about the negative health impact of growing 144 plants at a time or having 
6 pounds of dried marijuana a year, then I would expect to see these fears 
stated in this article. But the only health concern is raised by Berkeley 
health officer Dr. Poki Stewart Namkung when she said, in regard to someone 
consuming 6 pounds of marijuana a year, "I would be very worried about the 
quality of that patient's life." Yet, Dr. Namkung is an advocate for the 
staff's plan which allows up to 9 pounds a year with a doctor's approval. 
It seems that Dr. Namkung is really worried about self-treatment rather 
than treatment per se.

Which would be a reasonable concern if we were dealing with a substance of 
known danger, like alcohol or tobacco, or aspirin.

But marijuana has no record of causing, by itself, any deaths. Has Dr. 
Namkung or the Berkeley Health and Human Services Dept. taken a stand 
opposing over-the-counter sales of aspirin, which can be bought by anybody 
- - including children - who can afford it?

So what's really going on here? City staff is waging a rear-guard battle 
against Proposition 215, the 85 percent of Berkeley voters who supported 
it, and the people who use it medicinally. Finally having to admit that 
marijuana does have medicinal value, they now want to limit access to this 
medicine. Not because of any danger due to the toxicity of marijuana, 
because their is none. No, the reason is that the Berkeley Police Dept. is 
concerned "that large amounts of marijuana grown in households might 
encourage home invasion type robberies, home burglaries and possibly violence."

And the Berkeley Police Department should know of what they are talking, 
since they themselves have invaded patient's homes and taken their 
medicine. These violations of Proposition 215 by Berkeley Police have 
resulted to date in the City of Berkeley having to pay approximately 
$80,000 in ensuing law suits. If the City Council endorses the staff's 
proposal then we can expect larger amounts of money to be paid out as 
settlements in the future.

Let's get real. The people of Berkeley have made our will clear. We support 
the right of people to use marijuana medicinally. Period. We support a 
Medical Marijuana Ordinance that allows people to have access to as much 
marijuana as they need. Period. Berkeley citizens should have the same 
rights as Oakland citizens. According to the Oakland Police Department 
their have been no crime problems due to the Oakland medical marijuana 

So I say it is wiser to have higher limits because people will have their 
medicine as they need it, and the citizens of Berkeley will not have to pay 
thousand of dollars for lawsuits. Its a win-win solution.

Robin M. Donald, Berkeley
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