Pubdate: Fri, 17 Dec 1999
Source: Redding Record Searchlight (CA)
Copyright: 1999 Redding Record Searchlight - E.W. Scripps
Contact:  PO Box 492397, Redding, CA 96049-2397

Shasta County law enforcement officials said Thursday that they won't
change their stance on marijuana use.

At least, not until prosecutors know why a jury this week acquitted a
Redding man charged with growing marijuana for sale, pot that he claims to
have used for medicinal purposes.

And while reactions to Wednesday's acquittal varied, one question was
shared by all.  How much pot is enough pot for medical use?

"I hope it (the verdict) is a sign that the county will finally get the
message that we need their support and we need guidelines which will help
patients follow the law,"  said Guy Mount, 61, of Cottonwood, a medical
marijuana user who lobbied for Proposition 215, a 1996 initiative that
legalized marijuana use if supported by a doctor.

"We need real guidelines that are focused on health care, not on punishing
somebody you don't agree with."

Shasta County sheriff's deputies arrested 49-year-old Richard Levin in May
1998 after finding 41 seedlings in his back yard and 1  1/2 pounds of pot
in his bedroom.

The jury's verdict marked the first time in Shasta County - and possibly
the state - that a medical marijuana defendant has been acquitted since
California voters approved Prop. 215.

But county law enforcement officials said they'll continue going after
marijuana users as they always have.  Redding Police Chief Bob Blankenship
said Thursday that he wants to wait until the district attorney's office
completes an investigation into the verdict before deciding whether a
change in police policy is needed.

"We take direction from the district attorney on how we enforce it
(marijuana use)," Blankenship said.  "If you're in possession of less than
an ounce, we cite and release.  If it's a felony, we book you.

"Our scope, the enforcement end, is limited."

Ed Pecis, commander of the Shasta Interagency Narcotics Task Force, echoed
that sentiment, say his agents would continue their enforcement as they
have been.

District Attorney McGregor Scott said Wednesday that his office will speak
with jurors to determine why they reached their verdict and whether
prosecutors should change their approach to medicinal marijuana cases.

All sides agree the law should specify how much marijuana patients can
possess; Proposition 215 calls for a "reasonable amount."

Mount said California should adopt a statewide guideline.  Some cities and
counties have already chosen their own.  In 1998, the city of Oakland
passed a resolution supporting the use of medical marijuana and determined
users should be allowed to possess a three-month supply.

With indoor marijuana plants harvested once a year, the recommended 6-pound
harvest would require 30 mature plants, Oakland officials determined.  But
because many plants die, users should be allowed to aim for 60 plants,
destroying the extras once 30 mature plants develop, the guideline says.

There are no such standards in Shasta County, nor in many other parts of
the state, Mount said.

"The voters vote for something, then leave it wide open like this, it
doesn't make sense,"  said Shasta County Supervisor Glenn Hawes.  The Board
of Supervisors has no immediate plans to address the issue, Hawes said,
though it's been discussed several times in the past.

The medical marijuana debate has received more attention since state
Attorney General Bill Lockyer said last year that making Prop. 215 work is
on of his top priorities.  But Mount fears it will take drastic measures to
get firm marijuana rules.

"I only see it happening if the county is faced with a lawsuit," he said.

Reporter Alex Breitler can be reached at 225-8344 or at  ---
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