Pubdate: Wed,  5 Feb 2003
Source: North County Times (CA)
Copyright: 2003 North County Times
Author: Seth Hettena, Associated Press 
Bookmark: (Cannabis - California)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


SAN DIEGO -- The City Council approved scaled-back medical marijuana
guidelines Tuesday night that allow sick people with a doctor's
recommendation to possess a pound of marijuana. 

The guidelines approved under a two-year pilot program represent a limited
version of a proposal by the city's own Medical Marijuana Task Force that
would have allowed patients to possess up to 3 pounds of pot. 

The council also eliminated provisions that would have allowed patients to
grow marijuana plants outdoors. They can still grow a limited number of
plants indoors. 

Tuesday's 6-3 vote, which followed hours of emotional discussion, conflicts
with federal law, under which marijuana is illegal for any use. It came the
same day as a pre-sentencing hearing in San Francisco federal court for Ed
Rosenthal, who was convicted last week of marijuana cultivation and other
charges. Rosenthal, who was not allowed to tell the jury he was growing
medical marijuana, faces as much as 85 years in prison when he is sentenced
June 4. 

Critics of San Diego's action said the guidelines would send a mixed message
to young people. But advocates said the issue was strictly about helping
sick people. 

"Extremists on all sides are trying to co-opt this issue. This is not about
their agenda. This is about quality of life for the sick and suffering,"
said Juliana Humphrey, chairwoman of the city's Medical Marijuana Task
Force, which drafted the guidelines. 

San Diego's medical marijuana program is an outgrowth of a 1996 initiative
approved by California voters, and the guidelines were an effort by the city
to clarify marijuana use by the sick and the dying under that initiative. 

"It's the law," said Councilwoman Donna Frye. "We're trying to make some
sense of it." 

Local, state and federal officials told the council the proposed 3-pound
limit was far too high. Michael Vigil, special agent in charge of the U.S.
Drug Enforcement Administration's San Diego office, held up a large, clear
plastic bag filled with 3 pounds of marijuana. 

"We're talking over 4,000 marijuana cigarettes, which means, if you do the
math, that the patient would be smoking a marijuana cigarette every two
hours for approximately 24 hours, 7 days a week, 365 days a year," Vigil

Several cancer and AIDS patients urged the council to approve the
guidelines, saying that marijuana made their lives tolerable. Ann
Shanahan-Walsh, who was diagnosed with cancer in 1999, said marijuana helped
her survive a debilitating chemotherapy treatment. 

"It seemed so terribly unfair that something so simple could be withheld
from people in such desperate need," she said.
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