Pubdate: Mon, 22 Jul 2002
Source: Tahoe Daily Tribune (South Lake Tahoe, CA)
Contact:  2002 Tahoe Daily Tribune
Author: William Ferchland, Tahoe Daily Tribune 
Bookmark: (Cannabis - California)


A recent unanimous decision by the California Supreme Court will cut the
number of medical marijuana cases sent to trial and lower the degree of
proof for defenders, attorneys say.

The ruling allows users of medical marijuana who are arrested on drug
charges to file pretrial motions that could lead to dismissal of their

Prosecutors and defense attorneys read the 31-page decision and came to
their own conclusions.

"If we can resolve these closer cases in a court, it will not only be
quicker but it will also be a much cheaper way to go as far as taxpayers are
concerned," said Gary Lacy, district attorney for El Dorado County. "It will
also relieve prosecutors and defenders the rigors of going to a jury trial."

In referring to "closer cases," Lacy meant medical marijuana users and
caregivers who are prosecuted for growing numerous plants deemed medically
necessary or appropriate. He did not mean people who grow hundreds of plants
and say it's for pain relief.

Lacy said he supported the decision and called it reasonable.

The decision comes from "People vs. Myron Mower." Mower, an ill diabetic
using marijuana for relief of his symptoms, was convicted for possessing and
cultivating the drug despite having a medical use certificate.

Erik Schlueter, facing a run-off election in November against Lacy for the
El Dorado County district attorney position, reviewed the 31-page decision
Friday and said it will affect how a jury looks at evidence.

"What it comes down to is I don't think it's going to change how much
evidence the defense is going to present," Schlueter said. "I think what
it's going to change is how stringently the jury is going to look at the

Schlueter agreed with Lacy in that the decision was reasonable but wished it
had gone further.

"I think a lot of people are going to wish (the court) touched on more but
it didn't," he said. "They had the opportunity to touch on plants count.
They did what the Supreme Court always does -- is stay very limited on their

Simon Harvey, deputy public defender for El Dorado County, said the ruling
will help clarify the 1996 Compassionate Use Act.

"In short, the Mower decision helps to ensure that the will of the people is
implemented by making it much easier, and quicker, for legitimate medical
users to show their innocence and by making it much harder for stubborn
prosecutors to prove their guilt," he said in a statement.

Matt Macosko described the decision as "tremendous." Macosko describes
himself as a caregiver of medicinal marijuana to the sick but prosecutors
say he's a drug dealer. His case, furnishing marijuana to minors, was pushed
back in part for the Mower decision to conclude.

"It's about time people start taking notice of the law," he said. "Now I
feel police should have a message and not go out and arrest people.

"It just seems like people are trying to break this law up and make this
work," he added.
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