Pubdate: Sat, 25 Dec 1999
Source: Redding Record Searchlight (CA)
Copyright: 1999 Redding Record Searchlight - E.W. Scripps
Contact:  PO Box 492397, Redding, CA 96049-2397


Tehama County Sheriff Clay Parker has solved a problem that has vexed law
enforcement ever since California voters approved the medicinal use of
marijuana in 1996.

The question is how much pot can a patient grow and possess without risking

The law permits patients, usually those in pain or suffering eating
disorders from disease, to possess a ''reasonable'' amount of marijuana as
deemed necessary by a physician. Determining just what is a reasonable
amount has been the sticking point.

Deputies would encounter people growing marijuana with a doctor's note but
maybe the number of plants would be more than just for personal use, they
reasoned. Growers would defend their crop by saying they didn't know the
limit. Well, now Tehama County has taken the lead in the north state by
setting specific rules on cultivation (18 seedlings leading to three mature
plants) and possession (3 pounds of processed marijuana).

''It's been such an open issue, no one wanted to set guidelines,'' Parker

The Tehama County sheriff came up with the ground-breaking policy after
consulting with cannabis clubs, the state attorney general's office and
patients who grow their own. The rules also have clarified enforcement for
the Red Bluff and Corning police departments.

While 3 pounds of pot for personal possession seems like a lot, Parker said
the amount represents about a year's supply for a patient, roughly equaling
12 joints a day.

Parker has tried to cover all the angles. People permitted to have
marijuana can't legally share their stash, even with other patients,
because that would be tantamount to dealing. Also, there's a provision
allowing a caregiver to grow pot for the person in their care as long as
they live in the same residence.

The sheriff would like to take the rules a step further through an
ordinance requiring medicinal pot growers to secure outdoor crops with
fencing or even an alarm system. This would help prevent ''patch pirates''
from raiding a garden, which officers would have to investigate as a crime.

While it seems odd for a lawman to be regulating the use of a drug, it's a
necessary step that actually will help officers enforce the broader
marijuana laws. Other north state counties would do well to consider and
perhaps borrow Tehama County's novel approach.
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