Pubdate: Fri, 13 Aug 2004
Source: Santa Cruz Sentinel (CA)
Copyright: 2004 Santa Cruz Sentinel
Author: Brian Seals, Sentinel Staff Writer
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


Santa Cruz --  Medical-marijuana patients in Santa Cruz County would
be allowed to possess 3 pounds of pot under guidelines recommended by
a group of physicians. No kidding - 3 pounds. As in, 48 ounces.

While that amount might even make Cheech and Chong blush at first
glance, doctors and patients alike say it's appropriate for medicinal

Three pounds over the course of a year is understandable when a
chronically ill person is trying to avoid such medicines as
pharmaceutical opiates, said Valerie Corral of the Wo/men's Alliance
for Medical Marijuana.

Also, nonsmoking alternatives to pot require greater amounts of

"There are many patients who do use that much," she said. "In fact,
it's not as much as it may seem."

The Board of Supervisors will consider new guidelines when it meets
Tuesday. The board will decide whether to ask the County Counsel's
Office to craft an ordinance reflecting the recommendations and return
it for consideration by Oct. 5. The item is on the consent agenda, and
those matters typically are not discussed unless a resident or board
member requests they be.

The guidelines also would allow patients to maintain a 100-square-foot
canopy of pot plants. Canopy is a measure of leaf coverage in a given
area. Experts say using canopy as a measure, rather than the number of
plants, is a better method as it accounts for large plants.

The recommendations also call for greater quantities to be allowed
should a doctor recommend it.

At the request of Sheriff Mark Tracy, the Board of Supervisors asked
former county health officer George Wolfe in May to convene a group of
physicians to craft recommendations on how much marijuana was
appropriate to grow and possess.

Wolfe said he and a group of physicians who have experience with
patients using medical marijuana looked at a string of factors, from
what other counties are doing to what patients are using.

The group also gleaned information from an obscure federal program
which oversees a pot garden at the University of Mississippi.
Information from three patients in that program was that they get
about 6 pounds per year.

Wolfe said amounts recommended to the board equal three to four
marijuana cigarettes per day.

"The clinicians felt that would take care of the need of most of their
patients," Wolfe said.

Tracy was out of town Thursday and could not be reached to

The local guidelines come in the wake of SB 420, written by state Sen.
John Vasconcellos and passed by the Legislature in 2003.

That law sought to set a standard on how much weed California patients
could have on hand, to spare police from making judgment calls.

The law allowed patients to keep a half-pound on hand, six mature
plants and 12 immature plants.

However, the measure also allowed local governments to set their own
guidelines, and medical marijuana advocates here said the amounts set
by SB 420 were inadequate for many.

"People who are ill obviously have a hard time making frequent
purchases," Supervisor Mardi Wormhoudt said. "I think this is a good

Santa Cruz County's proposed guidelines mirror those already adopted
in Humboldt and Sonoma counties.

Others have adopted their own guidelines as well. Berkeley allows 10
plants and 2.5 pounds per patient while Mendocino County's policy
allows 2 pounds and up to 100 square feet of canopy, for example.

Summaries of various policies in California are available at: 
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