Pubdate: Sun, 25 July 1999
Source: Marin Independent Journal (CA)
Copyright: 1999 Marin Independent Journal
Contact:  150 Alameda del Prado, Novato, CA 94949
Author: Richard Halstead


How much pot is too much?

Perhaps the biggest bone of contention between law enforcement and medical
marijuana advocates is how many plants or how much dried pot an individual
can possess before it becomes apparent that they are dealing for profit.

"That is the problem. There is conflict because no one really knows," said
Tiburon Police Chief Peter Herley, who recently represented the California
Police Chiefs Association on a pot task force assembled by Attorney General
Bill Lockyer.

The issue has helped stall the creation of an enforcement policy in Marin,
said District Attorney Paula Kamena. 

Different standards are being established around the state. Oakland, for
example, allows medical users to have up to 144 indoor plants or 60 outdoor
plants. "That's too high in my opinion," Kamena said.

Capt. Dennis McQueeny, who heads the Sheriff's Major Crimes Task Force,
said the idea of limiting people in Marin to three plants is being
considered. With a pound of marijuana worth $5,000 on the black market, pot
is "almost as expensive as cocaine," McQueeny said.

Growers, however, say a high percentage of plants either die or do not
produce buds with significant amounts of THC, the active ingredient in pot.

Les McKay, whose medical marijuana cooperative, Marin Rx, helps distribute
pot to AIDS and cancer sufferers in Marin, explained some of the pitfalls.

First, 60 to 75 percent of hybrid seeds are male. This is a problem since
only female plants contain high levels of THC, McKay said. It takes three
to four months before the sex of the plant can be determined, the male
plants can't be instantly eliminated.

Then, because the hybrids are fragile, often as many as 25 percent of the
female plants die before flowering, McKay said. Plants can be cloned, but
to do so reduces the overall yield. And, because most growers seek to keep
their plants hidden, most can't be grown to their full height.

Oakland's resolution specifies growers must destroy the rest of their
plants once they have either 30 flowering plants outdoors or 48 flowering
plants indoors. More indoor plants are allowed because they yield less.

"It is very hard for a person with no experience to start off from
scratch," said McKay's wife and partner in Marin Rx, Daurice McKay. 
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