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Newshawk: Rachel Morton
Pubdate: Wed, 02 Aug 2000
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Section: Ventura County
Copyright: 2000 Los Angeles Times
Contact: letters@latimes.com
Address: Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles, CA 90053
Fax: (213) 237-4712

Author: Katie Cooper, Special to The Times


SIMI VALLEY--A judge refused to allow testimony Tuesday from a so-called expert witness
in the false-arrest suit brought against police by a Simi Valley man once arrested for growing
too many marijuana plants for his medical use.

After a hearing without the jury present, Judge Kent Kellegrew ruled that self-described
marijuana expert Chris Conrad could not testify that police acted unreasonably when they
arrested Rex Dean Jones in 1998 for growing more than the two plants permitted by the Simi
Valley Police Department's medical-use guidelines.

Jones' attorney, J. David Nick, argued that the guidelines were flawed because they were
based on recommendations from then-Atty. Gen. Dan Lungren, who vociferously opposed
the medical marijuana initiative, Proposition 215.

While the proposition does not specify how many plants an ill person may cultivate, Lungren
recommended that law enforcement agencies hold people in violation of the law if they
possess more than two plants.

Lungren's reasoning, Nick said, was based on the assumption that one marijuana plant
produces one pound of the drug, something, Nick said, that "no one could reasonably

"That's like saying the Earth is flat," Nick said.

Conrad was expected to testify that even under the most ideal circumstances one plant can
only produce five ounces of the drug, and that Lungren's recommendations were based more
on his political opposition of the law approved by voters in 1996. Lungren was the
unsuccessful Republican nominee for governor in 1998.

"Lungren enacted the guidelines to make life miserable for patients," Nick told Kellegrew.

But the judge said any type of scientific accuracy was not relevant. Instead, he said, the jury
needs to consider whether the arresting officers acted under the belief Jones was violating the
medical marijuana law.

Nick protested Kellegrew's ruling, saying he would have no way to show the jury that one
plant can't produce one pound of marijuana.

"The officers can't just live in this little cubicle of the Simi Valley Police Department and
ignore the other information that is out there," Nick said.

Kellegrew responded that Jones had other ways to persuade the jury he wasn't growing more
than he needed for his diabetes and hypertension.

Indeed, after a break Nick called Jones to the stand, and Jones testified he had never gotten
more than four ounces of pot from any of his backyard plants.

Ventura County prosecutors eventually dropped all charges related to the marijuana
cultivation after confirming with Jones' physician that he is a qualified medicinal marijuana

Jones is seeking unspecified damages for his arrest and brief incarceration. During his
testimony Tuesday, Jones, a 64-year-old retiree, began to tell about his arrest at home and his
subsequent booking.

His testimony is expected to conclude today, and the case will very likely go to the jury in the

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