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Medical Pot Group Forming


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A new organization to promote the medical use of marijuana is starting up in Yuba City, according to an advocate. The Yuba-Sutter Medical Cannabis Alliance intends to educate the public and public officials about medical marijuana and teach patients who use marijuana which types are best to ease their symptoms, said Darren Courtney of Butte County.

"We're looking for office space" said Courtney. The office will not be a marijuana dispensary or have the drug on the premises, said Courtney, a Sutter County native who said he'll soon return to the area from Butte County.

Two physicians, one from Redding and the other from Nevada City, and a Yuba City attorney are acting as advisers to the alliance. Nonprofit status is being sought, said Courtney.

The alliance also will shuttle patients to doctors in other counties who write letters of recommendation enabling patients to obtain ID cards allowing them to buy marijuana at dispensaries. Cards are not available in the Yuba-Sutter area and there are no dispensaries here.

Eventually, a Million Marijuana March, similar to those held in other California cities, could cross the Fifth Street bridge in support of medical marijuana, said Courtney

Despite passage in 2003 of state legislation requiring counties to issue cards, only a handful of counties do so.

San Diego County has filed a lawsuit that would require the state, not counties, to issue the cards, said Sutter County Sheriff Jim Denney. Denney said Friday he will not oppose the Yuba-Sutter Medical Cannabis Alliance's plan to open a Yuba City office "as long as they're in conformance with state and federal law."

Denney's proposal to ban marijuana dispensaries was approved this week by the Sutter County Planning Commission and heads next for the Board of Supervisors.

Denney said he supports the right of patients with a doctor's recommendation and ID card to grow their own marijuana and possess up to six mature plants, 12 immature plants and a half-pound of dried marijuana.

Yuba City and Live Oak already have passed bans on dispensaries.

Yuba County supervisors have not passed a ban on dispensaries, according to board Clerk Donna Stottlemeyer.

"We need to get something in place," said Sheriff Virginia Black.

Black said the state requirement that counties issue ID cards is an unfunded state mandate. Cards probably will not be funded there until the state comes up with the money, she said.

The supervisors have consistently opposed dispensaries in Yuba County since the issue arose in 1997. In May 2004, the operator of a Roseville dispensary appeared before the board and said he wanted to open a facility in Yuba County. He was rebuffed.

Courtney conceded it may be a long while before dispensaries open in Yuba -Sutter.

Courtney, who uses medical marijuana for neurological problems resulting from a motorcycle accident, said he obtains his supply from dispensaries in the Bay Area - not all of which have experienced law-enforcement problems like those emphasized by Denney.

"There's a few I'd never go back to. But at others, you have to be on a registry verified by a doctor," said Courtney.

Courtney said he founded the Butte County Cannabis Project three years ago. The group dissolved several months ago, partly because some members used their ID cards to maintain more than one marijuana garden, he said.

Dispensaries are needed by patients who cannot grown their own marijuana and have no authorized caregiver to grow it for them, he said.

Butte County has no dispensaries but is considering ID cards, he said.

Newshawk: SirBlazinBowl - 420Times.com
Source: Appeal-Democrat (Marysville, CA)
Copyright: 2005 Appeal-Democrat
Contact: jcalderon@appealdemocrat.com
Author: Rob Young, Appeal-Democrat
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