Marijuana Proponents Object To Stricter Guidelines

Marijuana Proponents Object To Stricter Guidelines
Posted by CN Staff on May 26, 2005 at 18:49:07 PT
By Dawn Pillsbury - Sonoma West Staff Writer
Source: Sonoma West Times
Sebastopol, Calif. -- Medical marijuana advocates are objecting to the county's new medical marijuana guidelines. The Sonoma County Law Enforcement Chief's Association adopted new guidelines effective July 1 that reduce the number of plants a patient or caregiver can possess from 99 to 25."We reached the decision to have guidelines that are more consistent with the state guidelines, taking into consideration the patient's needs and increased public safety concerns," said Sheriff Bill Cogbill, president of the association.
The new state guidelines, Senate Bill 420 sponsored by Senator John Vasconcellos, which passed last year, dictates limits for medical marijuana possession: eight ounces of dried marijuana, six mature or 12 immature plants."Those are minimums - counties can allow more," said Doc Knapp, Sonoma Alliance for Medical Marijuana spokesman.Knapp said while the new county guidelines keep what was important in the original guidelines adopted on May, 2001 - 100 square feet of plant canopy and three pounds of marijuana - the plant numbers are confusing and unnecessary.Knapp said that he understands county law enforcement's desire to have county guidelines mirror state law, but it doesn't make medical or gardening sense.He said calculating plant allowances by canopy square footage, as the federal Drug Enforcement Agency does, makes sense."We continue to advocate for dropping plant numbers, as have Humboldt, Santa Cruz and Mendocino counties," said Knapp, who estimates that several thousand Sonoma County residents use marijuana medicinally to treat ailments from AIDS to glaucoma. "Plant numbers are silly. They predict nothing and control nothing. You could have 25 one-pound plants."He said that marijuana gardeners, especially new patients who need medicine quickly, can get a quicker yield by growing a large number of plants to get their physician-recommended dosage."Patients are freaking," Knapp said. "Twenty-five plants or fewer is plenty in some situations, depending on the gardening style. You can have one plant that fills 100 square feet if you have a long growing season. But if you're a new patient and need medicine as soon as possible, you can't afford a long growing season."And, like all gardeners, marijuana growers might have a crop failure, he said."I talked to one co-op gardener who probably would be able to make 25 plants work but his last crop failed," he said. "To provide for his patients he had to grow a lot of plants and flower them in a hurry." A practice that will be illegal starting July 1.Cogbill said the new guidelines allow a patient to have more than the 25 plants, 100 square feet and three pounds if their doctor says they need it."If the doctor says they need four pounds or 50 plants, the doctor would have to write that on the recommendation or the patient would have to give us the doctor's name so we can verify it," he said. But if the recommendation is good, the patient can keep their medicine, he said.Knapp said that despite some arrests of patients who had let their recommendations lapse - all of whom had their charges dropped - the guidelines are working.Cogbill said the Sheriff's Department has problems enforcing the guidelines."I've always thought 99 plants was excessive for the amount of marijuana an individual needs," Cogbill said. "If you're getting eight ounces to a pound per plant and you're only allowed to have three pounds, what do you do with the excess? There's a temptation to sell or give it away."He also said that marijuana users are bending the rules by getting recommendations after getting arrested."They're in technical violation of the law because they didn't have the recommendation at the time of enforcement," he said. "But the burden of proof for arrest and the burden of proof in court are two different things. The district attorney thinks it's a waste of time to prosecute them."Sonoma County District Attorney Stephen Passalacqua said he judges each case on its own merits."That doesn't mean if an individual is growing or distributing marijuana as part of a criminal enterprise that they won't be prosecuted," he said. "But we have no plans to prosecute those with legitimate needs."Passalacqua said he advocated dropping plant numbers.Knapp said SAMM will continue to lobby the association to drop numbers, but that when it comes before a judge, common sense will prevail."We've told them the first time a medical marijuana case goes to court where everything is in compliance except there's too many plants, we'll be in court advocating for (the patient) and the jury will overturn the plant number thing," he said.Knapp said the Narcotics Task Force dropped pro-rated seizures, which he appreciates."They used to pro-rate the amount seized based on the renewal date of approval," he explained. Patients could have their marijuana seized according to when their physician recommendation was due for renewal. For example, he said, a patient who harvested three pounds, his recommended annual amount, in November, might still have two pounds left in May if he was not having a bad time with his illness. He could then face having a half-pound seized if his renewal was due in November."And his next cycle might be horrible so he'd end up taking more and it would even out," he said. "But the amount seized is irreplaceable until the next harvest."Note: County's new standards cut from 99 to 25 the number of plants a patient can legally possess.Complete Title: Medical Marijuana Proponents Object To Stricter GuidelinesFor more information, call SAMM, 522-0292.Source: Sonoma West Times & News (CA)Author: Dawn Pillsbury, Sonoma West Staff WriterPublished: Thursday, May 26, 2005 Copyright: 2005 Sonoma West PublishersContact: news sonomawest.comWebsite: Articles & Web Site:SAMM Cuts Pot Plant Allowance Marijuana IDs Go Statewide 
Home Comment Email Register Recent Comments Help

Post Comment