Pubdate: Sun, 26 Aug 2007
Source: Ukiah Daily Journal, The (CA)
Page: A-6
Copyright: 2007 The Ukiah Daily Journal
Author: Richard Cowan


To the Editor:

I am a former National Director of NORML and I publish

This article from Marijuana News may help explain my views more

Medical Marijuana Endgame: " 'So go ahead and
die.' That would be all right?" "Congress has made that
value judgment." Not Really, But The Bush
Administration Has. The American People Have Not!

Your editorial "Marijuana Law Still Being Abused" ignores two possible
explanations for why some jurors refused to convict a grower in a
county where there is very strong support for cannabis, medical and

First, if you will actually read Prop. 215, which won despite the
people having been told by the then A. G. Dan Lungren that it would
'legalize' marijuana, you will see that there are no limits on the
number of plants that a patient can grow. Absent any proof of sales,
the jurors may have opted for a strict interpretation of the law.

Alternatively, they may have been exercising their ancient right to
refuse to convict someone for violating a law which they believe to be
unjust. This principle, called Jury Nullification, should be very dear
to newspaper editors, inasmuch as the landmark case in American
history, the 1735 trial of John Peter Zenger, involved freedom of the
press. Zenger was defended by no less than Alexander Hamilton.

You say, "(W)e believe the vast majority who voted for Prop. 215 did
not mean for it to allow any local resident to start growing enormous
quantities of marijuana for people in San Francisco."

However, the text clearly states that the purpose of the Act is "To
ensure that seriously ill Californians have the right to obtain and
use marijuana for medical purposes" and "To encourage the federal and
state governments to implement a plan to provide for the safe and
affordable distribution of marijuana to all patients in medical need
of marijuana."

The state government has completely failed to meet this mandate, and
the federal government has chosen the Drug War over the needs of the
sick and dying. Hence the present situation.

Your insistence that the law only allows patients to grow a few plants
for their own use is simply not consistent with the stated purpose of
the Act, because it is totally unworkable. Those most in need, the
poorest and the sickest of our fellow Californians would suffer
greatly from your interpretation of the Act.

You also propose "a new statewide ballot measure to amend Prop. 215 to
specify exactly -- and limit -- what a caregiver is, how many plants
can be grown by one person, and provide for local governments to
regulate medical marijuana as they see fit as long as patients have
access to marijuana?"

Why do you think that the people will vote as you wish this time, when
they ignored the entire state establishment 11 years ago? Polls
indicate that the majority might vote for the complete legalization of
cannabis for adults, which would make the medical issue irrelevant
except for seriously ill children, who also throw up after chemo.

However, it is virtually certain that Californians would support a
program that really would put the interests of the patients first,
such as a licensed distribution system, supplied by licensed growers.
In such a context, arbitrary plant limits would be meaningless, and
would simply increase costs for the patients. I am also disturbed by
your assertion that "anyone who takes even one thin dime in return, is
nothing more than a drug dealer." Other "drug dealers," such as
doctors, pharmacists, pharmaceutical companies, (Check the price of
Marinol!) are allowed to make a profit. Of course, everyone involved
in maintaining marijuana prohibition is allowed to make money,
including police, prosecutors, prison guards and especially newspaper

Finally, your proposal that medical marijuana "can be provided through
local government growing programs in places like county jail gardens"
struck me as bizarre. What other medicines could be provided by
prisoners? However, I remembered that you want to lock up all of your
neighbors who know how to grow marijuana.

If that happened, it would be a great boon to organized crime. It
would also be socially and economically ruinous to Mendocino County,
and would further swamp the State's dysfunctional criminal justice
system. California has built more than 30 prisons since 1980, but our
inmate population, is now nearly 180,000, twice the intended capacity
of the prisons. Perhaps the prisons could also publish our newspapers.
At least they might have a better understanding of the limits of the
criminal justice system.

Such are the 'victories' in our endless war on marijuana.

Richard Cowan

Palm Springs

Editor's response: I'm guessing that in Palm Springs you don't have
people crawling over each other to get to the pot gardens in their
neighborhoods, shooting each other, or polluting lands and streams
with dumped fuel oil from illegal generating facilities. I'm guessing
that in Palm Springs your pot supplies are likely grown right here in
Mendocino County and packaged nicely for you. Those people who stemmed
and seeded it were not overflowing the Palm Springs soup kitchens and
I'm guessing they wouldn't be allowed to stand around the corners in
your town all during September and October, or camp in your shopping
mall parking lots and in your parks. The people in this county have
seen the results of legalized medical marijuana gone out of control.
We are as compassionate as the next community, but we know a scam when
we see one.