Pubdate: Thu, 07 Oct 2004
Source: Register-Pajaronian (CA)
Copyright: 2004 Register-Pajaronian
Author: Amanda Schoenberg, of the Register-Pajaronian
Cited: Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana
Cited: Compassion Flower Inn
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)
Bookmark: (Chronic Pain)
Bookmark: (Hepatitis)


Santa Cruz County Approves Medical Marijuana Ordinance

SANTA CRUZ - An impassioned audience greeted the Santa Cruz County Board of 
Supervisors on Tuesday morning, when the board unanimously approved a new 
ordinance providing guidelines for medical marijuana use in Santa Cruz County.

The decision will allow medical marijuana patients to possess up to three 
pounds of dried cannabis buds (not leaves) per year, and users can 
demonstrate medical need for more.

Patients will be able to grow "a 100-square foot canopy of mature female 
cannabis plants," which will "typically yield three pounds of dried and 
processed cannabis bud per year regardless of the number of marijuana 
plants," according to the ordinance, which requires another vote before it 
becomes a law.

Valerie Corral, co-founder of the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana, 
a Santa Cruz-based patient alliance that provides education on the medical 
benefits of marijuana and ensures legal access to the plant, was "grateful 
and pleased" after the decision.

"We've made such great strides in this community. I believe this is a good 
ordinance," Corral said, adding that it could be amended in the future to 
include a greater growth area.

Corral, surrounded by about 20 supporters of the ordinance, said WAMM 
provides safe, weekly doses of marijuana to patients who need it.

"We always ask that physicians be a part of addressing the problem, so that 
this isn't something that people go off on their own and determine 
arbitrarily," she said.

The ordinance vote came after state voters in 1996 approved Proposition 
215, which allows patients and their caregivers to cultivate or possess 
medical marijuana with physician approval.

As of January, state law SB420 allowed counties to set a higher amount than 
the state limit of eight ounces of dried marijuana and no more than six 
mature or 12 immature marijuana plants per patient.

County Sheriff Mark Tracy received a great deal of praise from medical 
marijuana supporters and county supervisors alike for his suggestion to 
involve medical experts in recommending county limits for medical marijuana 

The move was praised as "incredibly enlightened" by District 3 Supervisor 
Mardi Wormhoudt, a firm supporter of the ordinance.

Based on Tracy's suggestion, the board asked a group of physicians, 
including former county health officer Dr. George Wolf, to form 
county-specific marijuana guidelines.

The board voted in August to craft the ordinance based on the physicians' 
suggestions, with District 1 Supervisor Tony Campos opposing the move.

Campos reconsidered his original opposition after he spoke to a respected 
oncologist, as well as close friends who suffered from bone cancer.

"A lot of people that take medical marijuana don't have those side effects 
from chemotherapy," Campos said. "Once I heard it from a professional, it 
made a big difference."

Campos also acknowledged that he initially thought three pounds was an 
excessive amount.

"I didn't realize that it was for a whole year," he said.

Before voting, Supervisor Ellen Pirie questioned how patients would be 
prosecuted if they were found with three pounds of marijuana, and then an 
additional amount in the same year.

County counsel Dana McRae, who drafted the ordinance, acknowledged that 
additional law enforcement procedures were needed to cover the new 
ordinance, which does not address federal law enforcement issues.

Dennis Papadopolo, a wheelchair-bound Live Oak resident who suffers from 
Hepatitis C and brain damage due to a bullet wound, said he uses two to 
three joints of marijuana per day to manage intense pain.

"I'm glad this happened; this has been in the works for a long time," 
Papadopolo said. "They had me on so many medications before marijuana."

Attorney Ben Rice, who has represented 25-30 medical marijuana users in the 
past two years, at least a third of them from south county, also supported 
the ordinance.

"Three pounds is enough for many, but for people that are in serious 
chronic pain, it may not be," Rice said. "The point is it should be between 
doctor and patient. This is a great first step."

Andrea Tischler, who operates the Compassion Flower Inn, a 
bed-and-breakfast for patients who use medical marijuana, spoke in support 
of the ordinance. She claimed the regulation will dissipate fears of as 
many as 4,000 medical marijuana users in Santa Cruz County who had long 
sought clarification on the amount of marijuana they could legally possess. 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake