Pubdate: Sun, 26 Aug 2007 Source: Ukiah Daily Journal, The (CA) Page: A-6 Copyright: 2007 The Ukiah Daily Journal Contact: http://www.ukiahdailyjournal.com/feedback Website: http://www.ukiahdailyjournal.com/ Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/581 Referenced: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v07/n943/a05.html Author: Richard Cowan UDJ IS UNFAIR TO POT GROWERS To the Editor: I am a former National Director of NORML and I publish MarijuanaNews.com. This article from Marijuana News may help explain my views more completely: 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! At www.marijuananews.com. 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 otherwise. 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 editors. 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.