Doctor Testifies he Approved Patient's Medicinal Use of Pot
Contradicting the arresting deputy's testimony, a physician said Thursday
that he approved a Santa Rosa man's medical use of marijuana.
Dr. Wayne Keiser said he gave a green light to Alan MacFarlane to use
marijuana but didn't tell him what amount to use or how many plants to grow.
Keiser said he trusted his patient to use the amount needed, and it seemed
to be alleviating painful nerve paralysis in his neck and shoulder.
"I decided, based on a discussion with him, it was beneficial," Keiser
testified at MacFarlane's trial. "I took him at his word. He used marijuana
and said it gave him relief."
Keiser contradicted sheriff's detective Rob Gordon, who testified the
doctor denied giving approval for MacFarlane to use medical marijuana.
Gordon headed a narcotics task force that went to MacFarlane's west Santa
Rosa home twice during a three-month period in 1999, confiscating 109
The Sonoma County district attorney contends MacFarlane was growing more
than he needed for his medical needs. He is charged with two counts of
Prosecutor Carla Claeys questioned the doctor in detail about the specifics
of MacFarlane's medical problems. She asked if the physician's approval was
contingent on moderate use of mariujuana.
"No," Keiser replied.
Gordon on Thursday repeated his testimony that the first time he called,
the doctor stated "in no way, shape or form did I approve the use of
medical marijuana" for MacFarlane.
Keiser denied saying that to the detective.
"I told him I wrote letters and I had given him approval to use medical
marijuana. He asked me if I approved the number of plants. I told him
emphatically I hadn't approved the number."
The detective testified he would have left at least a few plants for
MacFarlane if he truly believed it was a medical case, but the doctor gave
him the impression he had been misled by his patient after being informed
of the amount he was growing.
Defense attorney Sandy Feinland maintains that deputies exaggerated the
amount of marijuana htat could have been obrtained from MacFarlane's plants
and that it was a reasonable amount for his medical needs.
Although California voters in 1996 approved the use of marijuana for people
with a doctor's approval, the measure didn't say where they can obtain it
and how much they can use and grow.
Most counties, including Sonoma County, have ho guidelines as to how many
plants are allowed. In an attempt to resolve conflicts, the Sonoma County
Medical Association established a committee to review the medical records
of marijuana users who want to avoid hassles with law enforcement.
Medical marijuana advocates encourate patients to have their doctors
recommend in writing how many grams of pot they can use per day. MacFarlane
did not have approval from the commitee at the time of his arrest, but he
has since gained it.
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Dr. Keiser was very clear in his testimony that he felt detective Gordon
wanted the doctor to state he had recommended MacFarlane grow a certain
number of plants. The doctor testified he in no way would do that, as he is
not knowledgeable in cultivation techniques of cannabis and that it was
solely up to the patient to determine quantities and useage.
The detective understood this as the doctor stating he did not approve
MacFarlane's medical use at all.
Dr. Keiser believes there may have been a missunderstanding in the
communications. Detective Gordon believes there was no missunderstanding,
that the doctor did not approve of the marijuana being cultivated, and that
the letter was only there for MacFarlane to purchase marijuana from a club
and not to cultivate it.
It was my feeling that the doctor was a much more credible witness than the
Dr. Keiser also stated clearly that he approved of MacFarlane's use of
cannabis, but did not recommend it. He felt that a recommendation was like
saying you are not doing this but should. He did not and would not take
that role. Adjunct therapy is up to the patient. MacFarlane was responsible
for researching cannabis as an adjunct treatment and Keiser approved after
MacFarlane provided enough evidence that it was appropriate.
The doctor did an excellent job protecting himself and other physicians
from attack by government or medical review, though this is not currently a
direct threat as it was in the past.
The doctor also stated other patients have told him of their use of
cannabis, wanting to know if it would conflict with treatment. He did not
think it would. MacFarlane was the only patient he could remember who
wanted an approval in writing and wanted to go through the Sonoma County
Medical Associations subcommittee process of peer review, a
not-so-easy-and-fast process which he successfully navigated.
Another interesting point made by Dr. Keiser was that MacFarlane was
sometimes agitated, easily excitable and upset. Since using marijuana, it
was noted that MacFarlane's mental health and overall well being had become
My only regret was this excellent physician had to take a full day off from
treating his patients to deal with this miscarriage of justice. His
patients suffered so that MacFarlane could have a defense. My hat is off to
this fine physician who did what he had to do for MacFarlane, at a great
cost to his other patients.
Under examination by the prosecutor, Detective Gordon stated the defendant
drove a BMW and owned a motorcycle. He did not appear indigent. Defense
attorney Sandy Feinland had only one question, did the detective notice the
BMW was a 1980 model? Yes, replied the detective.
I beleive MacFarlane receives social security and is not a man of financial
The trial continues today at 2pm in courtroom 4 (Judge Boyd) at the Sonoma
I have a conflict in schedule and will not be in attendance on Friday.
There are a good number of supporters in attendance, all dressed nicely,
being quiet and well behaved. "Doc" Knapp, SAMM spokesperson has been in
attendance daily and continues to monitor progress.
Monday, the case continues with Chris Conrad and Dr. Francis Podrebarac
testifying. This should be a very informative and entertaining day.
Defense Attorney Sandy Feinland is truly a rising star in the defense of
medical marijuana patients. He is well educated (Harvard with Honors), a
true gentleman (articulate, strong, and well dressed) a powerful attorney,
and working for Alan MacFarlane and Sonoma Alliance for Medical Marijuana
pro-bono (free of personal charges for the good of the community).
Visit Sandy Feinland's website at "http://www.pleadnotguilty.com"
Attorney Sandy Feinland has offices in Santa Rosa and San Francisco. He is
highly regarded and strongly recommended for all criminal court matters. If
you need an attorney or know someone who does, please call him.
Sandy R. Feinland, Attorney at Law
870 Market Street, Suite 1264
San Francisco, CA 94102
404 Mendocino Ave, Suite 200
Santa Rosa, CA 95401
Sonoma Alliance for Medical Marijuana is a patient advocacy group which
began meeting with the District Attorney, Sheriffs, and medical
professionals in December of 1996 and continues to be a strong force in
helping Sonoma County set the pace in the defense of patients. SAMM hosts
annual fundraisers to cover costs of operations. SAMM is staffed by
volunteers who gain only the benefit of helping others.
Contact SAMM at (707)522-0292
PO Box 312
Forestville, CA 95436
SAMM Spokesperson is "Doc" Knapp, (707)824-1534
Dale Gieringer (415) 563-5858 // firstname.lastname@example.org
2215-R Market St. #278, San Francisco CA 94114
Santa Rosa Press Democrat
Empire News section, page B1
Friday, January 19, 2001
By Clark Mason