Pubdate: Thu, 15 Jan 2004
Source: Olympian, The (WA)
Page: Front Page
Copyright: 2004, The Olympian
Contact: http://www.theolympian.com/forms/lettrfrm.shtml
Website: http://www.theolympian.com/
Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/319
Author: Heather Woodward, the Olympian
Note: Heather Woodward covers Thurston County and the city of Tumwater for 
The Olympian.
Cited: Green Cross http://hemp.net/greencross/

GROWER FOUND GUILTY IN MEDICAL MARIJUANA CASE

OLYMPIA -- A jury found Monica Ginn guilty Wednesday of charges that
she grew and distributed marijuana, sparking ire among medical
marijuana advocates.

Jurors also decided Ginn, 53, qualifies for a more severe sentence
because her growing operation was within 1,000 feet of a designated
school bus stop. She faces up to five years in jail, but her attorneys
promised to appeal the case as high as the Washington Supreme Court.

Kevin Johnson, Ginn's court- appointed attorney, said he wasn't
surprised by the verdict because an earlier ruling by Judge Thomas
McPhee forbade him from presenting medical reasons as his client's
defense for growing and distributing marijuana, a controlled
substance. McPhee found that Ginn, who claims to suffer from chronic
back pain, did not meet all of the requirements to justify using that
defense.

"With that gutted, there's basically no defense," Johnson said. "I
think the verdict was a foregone conclusion."

Ginn was released on her own recognizance pending sentencing after the
verdict was read Wednesday. But the state Department of Corrections
immediately arrested the Olympia resident on an unrelated failure to
appear charge that Johnson said is a mistake.

Ginn admitted growing marijuana for her own use and for a Seattle man
with multiple sclerosis, who has since died. She also said she
provided marijuana to Green Cross, a patient cooperative that is an
advocate for medical marijuana users. But Green Cross representatives
denied Wednesday that Ginn worked with the cooperative, which no
longer gives marijuana to pain sufferers.

Patients must have a terminal or debilitating medical condition to
qualify for medical marijuana, according to state law. Voters passed a
medical marijuana initiative in 1998 that led to the state law.

Medical marijuana advocates agree at least 10,000 patients legally use
marijuana for medical reasons in Washington, including several hundred
in Thurston County. Many suffer from AIDS, multiple sclerosis, spinal
chord injuries, glaucoma or cancer.

"Anybody who can usually grows their own," said Joanna Mckee, Green
Cross co-founder and director. "I go along with their doctors. If
their doctors say they need help, then I consider them a (medical
marijuana) patient."

McPhee ruled that Ginn's chronic back pain was not properly documented
by her physician, who had been treating her for a short time and who
had done no medical testing.

"I didn't attempt in any way to overrule the doctor," McPhee said. "I
took the statute and its elements and determined whether Ms. Ginn
could provide sufficient evidence. ... I think I made the right
decision under the law."

The jury's verdict Wednesday could make it harder for patients who
need marijuana to alleviate pain, advocates said.

"It sends chills down our spines," said Martin Martinez, director of
the Seattle-based Lifeline Foundation. "Many of these people have been
living in fear for many years, and this only reinforces that fear."

Patients legally using or growing the crop have nothing to fear,
county prosecutors said.

"There shouldn't be an effect on people who are growing and using
within the law," said Jack Johnson, senior deputy prosecuting attorney.
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