Pubdate: Sun, 23 May 2004
Source: Santa Cruz Sentinel (CA)
Copyright: 2004 Santa Cruz Sentinel
Author: Brian Seals, Sentinel Staff Writer
Bookmark: (Cannabis - California)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


Santa Cruz --  County officials are seeking doctors' advice on how
much medical marijuana is enough.

The county Board of Supervisors this week named George Wolfe, a former
county health officer, to convene a group of doctors to develop
guidelines for the quantity of pot that patients might need for
treatment and how much they should be allowed to possess. The group is
to report back to the board Aug. 17.

A state law passed last year provides some guidelines on how much
marijuana, or how many plants, patients or caregivers may keep on
hand. But the law allows cities and counties to set their own limits.

Area medical pot users and advocates say that is a good thing because
those statewide specifications are not high enough for some patients.

Under Proposition 215, passed by voters in 1996, marijuana can be
prescribed to alleviate pain, nausea and other symptoms of chronic or
terminal illness.

Sheriff Mark Tracy said he recommended that a physicians group study
the quantity issue and make recommendations to be sure the local
guidelines are based on medical expertise and science.

"I think this is the best way to do it," Tracy said this week. "We
should make decisions based on medical reasons, not based on politics
or advocacy."

The Board of Supervisors went along with Tracy's suggestion.
Supervisor Mardi Wormhoudt said it was important to have a medical
basis for the local guidelines.

"I have confidence Dr. Wolfe is the right person to be doing this," she

Tracy said Wolfe would do the work, free of charge, under the auspices
of the Santa Cruz Medical Society.

Wolfe could not be reached for comment.

Under Senate Bill 420, authored by John Vasconcellos and passed into
law last year, a patient may possess a half-pound of dried pot and may
have six mature plants or 12 immature ones.

Medical marijuana users say the 8-ounce limit is an inadequate amount
for many.

"For some of my patients, that's not even two months," said Valerie
Corral, director of the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana.

The amount needed can vary depending on how a patients uses it.

Smoking pot generally takes less than eating it, which is the way some
prefer to ingest their medicine.

Critics also say the guidelines don't account for where pot might be
grown. Northern California patients using pot grown outdoors may need
to stock up more than users in Southern California, where the growing
season is longer.

Corral said she hopes the doctors' group keeps that in mind.

"My hope is they don't put a cap in the guidelines that would limit
access to patients," she said.
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MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin