Pubdate: Tue, 30 Nov 2004
Source: Las Vegas Sun (NV)
Copyright: 2004 Las Vegas Sun, Inc
Author: Kirsten Searer
Cited: Raich v. Ashcroft ( )
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


Nevada One Of 11 States To Allow Use

Advocates for medical marijuana said Monday they're concerned the U.S.
Supreme Court might rule against the 11 states, including Nevada, that
allow medical marijuana use.

Almost 600 Nevadans with a doctor's order have permission from the
state to use medical marijuana to gain weight, curb anxiety, lower
pain or ease a variety of other maladies.

"I have a big frustration," said medical marijuana user Pierre Werner,
who uses marijuana to ease his bipolar diagnosis and has battled with
local law enforcement over how many marijuana plants he can have.

"Politicians should not be in my medicine cabinet. They should not be
concerned with what kind of medication I'm using, only that I have
enough medicine as long as my doctor recommends it or prescribes it
for me."

Nevada's program, like other state programs, has long been

Besides Nevada, other states that allow medical marijuana use are
Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Oregon, Vermont and

While the states have written laws to allow use of the drug, federal
law continues to classify marijuana as an illegal substance, meaning
people can get in trouble for growing and possessing it.

The discrepancy poses a problem for people such as 21-year-old DeeJay,
a Las Vegas resident who asked that his last name not be used.

He has had a medical marijuana card for about nine months but had
difficulty keeping up a supply of mature plants to help his symptoms
of multiple sclerosis.

"My legs hurt," he said. "Not my actual legs, but only like the middle
bone. If I smoke, it clears up, but a lot of people don't agree with
it, including my parents."

Nevada law allows medical marijuana patients to grow up to three
mature and four immature plants. A mature plant has buds that are
visible to the naked eye.

Should the court rule against medical marijuana use, Nevada likely
would end its program, said Jennifer Bartlett, who heads the Nevada's
medical marijuana program.

"Nobody's going to put themselves up to be subject to the law," she
said. "It could affect us, but until the Supreme Court has a ruling,
we'll just keep managing our program the way it is."

Bartlett said she has heard of less than 10 patients who got in
trouble with the law for growing and housing the plant, including one
person who was subsequently denied a license from the state.

The biggest problems have come for patients such as DeeJay, who said
he couldn't get by with just seven plants.

DeeJay, who smokes the drug and infuses it into butter for cooking,
said he needs about one ounce every eight days and has trouble growing
plants on his own.

In need of plants, DeeJay said he turned to a street gang for help. He
said he called police in October, when he said members of the gang
robbed him. But instead of focusing on the robbery, he said police
arrested him when they found 41 marijuana plants in his home.

"If we're not growing it on our own, it causes us to go out on the
street and get it," he said. "That's how I got in this situation in
the first place. I found it on the street, I brought that person in
and it was the wrong person."

Now he is facing charges of possession with the intent to traffic
marijuana, a charge he denies even though he said he was helping to
grow marijuana for another man who had permission to use it.

"I'm not a drug dealer," he said.

Bartlett said she hasn't heard criticisms that seriously ill patients
can't survive with just seven plants. In fact, she said, she's heard
the opposite -- that some patients have produced more marijuana than
they need.

Las Vegas attorney Ryan Mortier, who has represented Werner and
another client accused of growing too many medical marijuana plants,
said he is "scared" that the U.S. Supreme Court will stop Nevada's
medical marijuana program.
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