Pubdate: Thu, 24 Jun 1999
Source: Seattle Post-Intelligencer (WA)
Copyright: 1999 Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
Author:  Aviva L. Brandt, The Associated Press


Three groups that supported the initiative to legalize marijuana for
medical use in Washington issued a guide yesterday to explain the law
to patients, physicians and others.

The 13-page guide, written in a question-and-answer format, explains
who is eligible to use marijuana for medical purposes under the law,
what it is used for, how to document doctor recommendations and other

It also includes the full text of the law and a suggested form for
doctors to use in recommending marijuana use.

American Civil Liberties Union spokesman Jerry Sheehan said he hoped
the guide would also help police and prosecutors better understand
what the law covered.

Sheehan said he saw a newspaper article quoting an Eastern Washington
sheriff "saying, 'We don't know what the law means so we'll arrest
people and let the court sort it out.'

"So this will hopefully help law enforcement understand that this is
the law for them to enforce, too."

The only arrests of people using marijuana for medical reasons since
the law went into effect have occurred in Tacoma, he said.

In January, a blind AIDS patient and his mother were arrested after
Tacoma police found three marijuana plants in their home, but the
Pierce County prosecutor's office decided not to press charges after
determining they would be covered by the new law.

In May, a Tacoma man was charged with unlawful manufacture of a
controlled substance after authorities found 157 marijuana plants at
his home.

David Teatsworth, 43, said he was growing the marijuana for 11
patients covered by the medical marijuana law, which allows patients
too sick to grow their own marijuana to have a caregiver do it.

The guide defined a caregiver as someone responsible for the housing,
health or care of the patient, including family members, roommates and
close friends.

The caregiver must be designated in writing. The law doesn't address
whether someone can grow marijuana for more than one patient.
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