Pubdate: Wed, 15 Oct 2003
Source: Redding Record Searchlight (CA)
Copyright: 2003 Record Searchlight - The E.W. Scripps Co.
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


Maline Hazle Record Searchlight  (Redding, CA) "This particular law
isn't going to satisfy everyone, but at least from law enforcement
standpoint it gives us some guidelines."

Larry Schaller, Shasta County undersheriff

An attempt to clarify California's Compassionate Use Act will change protocols
adopted by Shasta County law enforcement three years ago as police and
prosecutors grappled with enforcement of Proposition 215.

The new rules are included in S.B. 420, which was signed into law
Sunday by Gov. Gray Davis and takes effect Jan. 1.

The law will require Shasta and other counties to allow a minimum
amount of processed marijuana and plants that a medicinal user can
possess and also creates a voluntary state identification card program
for medical marijuana users.

Shasta County guidelines now allow patients to possess 11/3 pounds of
processed marijuana or two outdoor plants or six indoor plants, three
of them mature and three immature.

The state law will change that to eight ounces of dried pot and six
mature or 12 immature plants per patient and allows counties to raise
those limits based on patient need. It also specifies that counties
and cities may retain or enact guidelines exceeding the state limits.

Though the amount of dried marijuana is smaller under the state
guidelines, the new law allows patients to possess plants and
processed pot at the same time.

But neither law sits well with the authors of Proposition

"We hate this bill, everything about it," Proposition 215 author
Dennis Peron wrote on a Web site before S.B. 420 was adopted. Peron
sent a letter to Davis urging him to "stop this bill before it reaches
your desk."

Peron predicted that the "medical marijuana registry bureaucracy"
included in the bill will be used against patients, with DEA agents
seizing state files to go after marijuana and patients under federal

Conversely, the Marijuana Policy Project, a lobbying group, hailed the
new law as "a major milestone for marijuana policy reform in
California," praising the protection the optional identification card
system offers to patients and their caregivers.

Local authorities said they will wait to see how the law trickles

"Obviously, any help from the Legislature to clarify guidelines is
welcome," said District Attorney Jerry Benito. But he said he'll need
to watch and see whether the law really changes anything.

Undersheriff Larry Schaller acknowledged that the identification cards
could be controversial and that the new guidelines allow a patient to
possess more pot than rules adopted by county law enforcement.

"This particular law isn't going to satisfy everyone, but at least
from law enforcement standpoint it gives us some guidelines," he said.

Redding Police Chief Leonard Moty said he'll look to the state
attorney general's office for guidance on how to enforce the new law,
then meet with Benito.

"If he indicates he's not going to prosecute anymore, there's no sense
in arresting them," he said.

Moty said he is worried that condoning medical marijuana sends a mixed
message about drug use to kids.

"I don't think the law is necessarily a good thing," he said, adding,
"Our role is to enforce, not to make laws, but the waters are getting
pretty murky with different signals."

Depending on the demand for identification cards, it could be county
health department chief Marta McKenzie whose department is most
affected by the new law.

Her department or another health agency designated by the Board of
Supervisors will be charged with processing applications, checking
them for accuracy and issuing cards that are good for a year.

McKenzie said she's reluctant to have her department involved with
medical marijuana regulation.

"It's certainly not a preventative health issue," she said. "But if
the board wants us to do it, we will."
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MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin