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  San Diego City Council OKs Pound of Med Marijuana
Posted by CN Staff on February 04, 2003 at 22:01:32 PT
By Seth Hettena, Associated Press Writer 
Source: Associated Press 

medical The City Council approved scaled-back medical marijuana guidelines Tuesday night that allow sick people with a doctor's recommendation to possess a pound of marijuana.

The guidelines approved under a two-year pilot program represent a limited version of a proposal by the city's own Medical Marijuana Task Force that would have allowed patients to possess up to 3 pounds of pot.

The council also eliminated provisions that would have allowed patients to grow marijuana plants outdoors. They can still grow a limited number of plants indoors.

Tuesday's 6-3 vote, which followed hours of emotional discussion, conflicts with federal law, under which marijuana is illegal for any use. It came the same day as a pre-sentencing hearing in San Francisco federal court for Ed Rosenthal, who was convicted last week of marijuana cultivation and other charges. Rosenthal, who was not allowed to tell the jury he was growing medical marijuana, faces as much as 85 years in prison when he is sentenced June 4.

Critics of San Diego's action said the guidelines would send a mixed message to young people. But advocates said the issue was strictly about helping sick people.

"Extremists on all sides are trying to co-opt this issue. This is not about their agenda. This is about quality of life for the sick and suffering," said Juliana Humphrey, chairwoman of the city's Medical Marijuana Task Force, which drafted the guidelines.

San Diego's medical marijuana program is an outgrowth of a 1996 initiative approved by California voters, and the guidelines were an effort by the city to clarify marijuana use by the sick and the dying under that initiative.

"It's the law," said Councilwoman Donna Frye. "We're trying to make some sense of it."

Local, state and federal officials told the council the proposed 3-pound limit was far too high. Michael Vigil, special agent in charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's San Diego office, held up a large, clear plastic bag filled with 3 pounds of marijuana.

"We're talking over 4,000 marijuana cigarettes, which means, if you do the math, that the patient would be smoking a marijuana cigarette every two hours for approximately 24 hours, 7 days a week, 365 days a year," Vigil said.

Several cancer and AIDS patients urged the council to approve the guidelines, saying that marijuana made their lives tolerable. Ann Shanahan-Walsh, who was diagnosed with cancer in 1999, said marijuana helped her survive a debilitating chemotherapy treatment.

"It seemed so terribly unfair that something so simple could be withheld from people in such desperate need," she said.

Complete Title: San Diego City Council OKs Possession of Pound of Medical Marijuana

Source: Associated Press
Author: Seth Hettena, Associated Press Writer
Published: Tuesday, February 04, 2003
Copyright: 2003 Associated Press

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Council To Debate Legal Use of Marijuana

Pass The Pot Proposal

Guidelines Might OK Less Than 3 Pounds

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Comment #3 posted by FoM on February 05, 2003 at 20:34:10 PT
Related News Article from KFMB -TV
City Council Approved Medical Marijuana Guidelines

February 05, 2003

Copyright: 2003 Midwest Television

The San Diego City Council voted 6-3 tonight to direct the city attorney to draw up ordinances that would allow people with a prescription for pot to possess up to a pound of the otherwise illegal weed.

"Caregivers" could possess up to two pounds.

Federal law, however, does not recognize state laws legalizing pot for any use, and federal agents have raided so-called medical marijuana growers clubs across California.

The city's Medical Cannabis Task Force recommended a limit of three pounds for patients and 12 pounds for caregivers. The idea was to give people an idea of how much pot they could grow or possess without fear of arrest by San Diego police.

The council rejected a proposal to allow marijuana to be grown outdoors, and capped the number of plants allowed indoors at 24 for individuals and 48 for caregivers.

Marijuana is illegally sold for nearly $500 per ounce, making a pound worth several thousand dollars on the street.

The compromise resolution that was approved directed the city attorney to prepare the ordinances necessary to give the guidelines the force of law for a two-year "pilot" period. Voting no were Mayor Dick Murphy, and Councilmen Brian Maienschein and Jim Madaffer.

"I personally do not support legalization of illegal drugs," Councilwoman Toni Atkins said, who voted for the compromise. "That is not my intent."

Some people have complained that the movement to allow for the use of medical marijuana is just a step toward legalizing the drug.

But Councilman Ralph Inzunza said: "These guidelines do not legitimize or legalize marijuana in any way."

Murphy said he voted against the guidelines because he believes "allowing the possession of one to two pounds of marijuana will facilitate illegal marijuana sales in our city" and allow drug dealers "to hide their drug trafficking behind these guidelines."

"As a parent of three children, I fear that these guidelines, even as amended, will allow large quantities of marijuana on the streets, which will be more readily available to our kids," the former Superior Court judge said.

Madaffer and Maienschein said one important reason that they could not support the guidelines was that federal law makes no exception for medicinal use.

Dozens of people testified on both sides of the issue, with those in favor saying the guidelines were necessary to help sick people, and those against saying the action would send the wrong message to children.

Proposition 215, the 1996 voter-approved state ballot measure allowing for the medicinal use of cannabis, contained no guidelines for growing or possessing the stuff.

Assistant City Attorney Les Girard said his office could not provide an opinion that an ordinance would be "legally defensible," because of the conflict with federal law.

Identification cards would be issued to people whose status as a patient or caregiver has been verified.

A caregiver is defined as the person a patient designates as responsible for his or her housing, health or safety.

People with felony convictions for selling illegal drugs will not be considered.

Individuals must have a San Diego-based doctor recommend pot for medical use.

"The guideline goals are to provide a safe harbor for patients and doctors to assist police in identifying legitimate medical cannabis users while enforcing the law against criminals," said task force Chairwoman Juliana Humphrey.

San Diego Police Chief Dave Bejarano said, "the use of marijuana by legitimate patients has not been an issue" for his department.

The City Council did approve legal wording that would give police more discretion in making arrests than the task force had recommended.

Police opposed the city codifying any amount for medical marijuana users.

Those in support of the guidelines talked about compassion for people with serious illnesses.

"This isn't an issue about making marijuana accessible to children, this is about making medical marijuana accessible to sick people who need it," said Marion Otto.

Ann Shanahan-Walsh, a task force member diagnosed with breast cancer in 1999, said her first chemotherapy treatment left her "violently ill," but that the marijuana sugar cookies she got through a friend in San Francisco made the "terrible after-effects" tolerable.

She said nurses asked her where other patients could get pot.

"It seemed so terribly unfair that something so simple could be withheld from people who were in such desperate need," she said.

People against decriminalizing pot said current San Diego police policy, evaluating medical marijuana claims on a case-by-case basis -- were sufficient.

"I am deathly afraid that these guidelines are going to be very harmful to kids in our community," said Judge James Milliken, presiding judge of the Juvenile Court. "The guidelines are extremely liable to abuse."

But Humphrey, the task force chairwoman, said the guidelines would not shield anyone breaking drug laws.

She said the case-by-case analysis by police was "of no comfort for people using the medication," and that the unpublished rules that have been in place “give no guidance and no peace of mind to patients."

Medical marijuana advocates say pot helps settle stomachs upset by cancer drugs and ease suffering associated with a variety of ills, including AIDS.

At a rally, county Supervisor Bill Horn said the active ingredient in marijuana, THC, is available in pill form for sick patients.

"I know that's not as much fun as sitting around a campfire smoking a doobie," Horn said. "But it certainly does not open the door to illegal activity in our streets."

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Comment #2 posted by afterburner on February 05, 2003 at 20:23:00 PT:

I don't get all the obsession with reducing the quantity of medical (marijuana) cannabis possession. How much does a carton of cigarettes weigh, a box or cigars, a fully-stocked bar, a wine cellar, or a bottle of calamine lotion?

Does a prescription for cocaine or morphine "send a mixed message to young people"? Why do we continue to single out cannabis for such demonization?

"It seemed so terribly unfair that something so simple could be withheld from people in such desperate need," she said.

ego destruction or ego transcendence, that is the question.

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #1 posted by FoM on February 05, 2003 at 17:20:38 PT
Related Articles
Hi Everyone,

Here are a few more articles concerning Medical Cannabis in San Diego.

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