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Registration Plan Allows County To Create Guidelines For Medicinal Marijuana Use

Smokin Moose

Fallen Cannabis Warrior
SISKIYOU COUNTY - More than four years after the California Legislature's passage of Senate Bill 420, Siskiyou County is taking steps to implement a voluntary registration of Proposition 215 recommendation users.

Proposition 215 - also known as the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 - allows people with a valid doctor's recommendation to possess and cultivate marijuana for personal medical use.

According to Siskiyou County District Attorney Kirk Andrus, SB 420 'puts some rules into Prop 215.'

'Pardon the pun, but SB 420 weeds out those who are in compliance with the law and those who aren't,' he said.

SB 420 sets a limit on how much cannabis a patient can legally grow and use.

'That limit is up to six mature plants or 12 immature plants,' Andrus said, 'and up to eight ounces of processed marijuana.'

Sheriff Rick Riggins explained that eight ounces of dried, processed cannabis 'is a lot.' Eight ounces, he said, fills half of a plastic five-gallon bucket.

'That should last a person a long time,' he said.

Riggins said that SB 420 allows counties and cities to establish guidelines for how much marijuana a 215 recommendation holder can possess and cultivate. As an example of counties with more liberal guidelines, he cited Sonoma County, where patients were allowed up to 99 plants in a 100-square foot growing area and three pounds of processed marijuana.

Andrus said that Siskiyou County would maintain SB 420 guidelines.

Terry Barber, the county's public health and community planning director, said that SB 420 required counties to establish a voluntary patient identification card system and other provisions, protecting 215 recommendation holders, or even their caregivers, from arrest.

Riggins explained that other SB 420 provisions included:

. Recognizing the right of patients and caregivers to collectively or cooperatively cultivate medical marijuana;

. Disallowing marijuana smoking in 'no smoking' zones, within 1,000 feet of a school or youth center except in private residences, on school buses, in a motor vehicle that is being operated, or while operating a boat;

. Protecting patients and caregivers from arrest for transportation and other miscellaneous charges not covered in 215;

. Allowing probationers, parolees and prisoners to apply for permission to use medical marijuana; however, such permission may be refused at the discretion of the authorities; and

. Making it a crime to fraudulently give false information to obtain a card, to steal or misuse the card of another, counterfeit a card or breach confidentiality of patient records in the 215 program.

'This is something that we've needed here for a long time,' Barber said.

She approached both Riggins and Andrus, telling them that she felt it was necessary to have a registration policy in place.

'We have a lot of people in our county who have 215 recommendations,' she stated.

The registration plan, she said, was a logical step in keeping track of law-abiding 215 recommendation holders.

Barber explained the registration process:

. Those issued 215 recommendations by doctors would fill out the registration forms;

. The recommendation would be shown to public health officials;

. The doctor's status would be checked. If the doctor had any professional sanctions leveled against him or her, the recommendation would be disqualified;

. Public health officials would verify that the recommendation holder had personal, 'face-to-face' contact with the doctor; and

. The recommendation holder would have to meet the medical criteria described in SB 420, i.e., have medical conditions that ranged from cancer to glaucoma.

Barber said that the recommendation holder would have a picture taken of him or her. The registration papers would then be sent to the State Department of Health for authorization.

Once authorized, the card - with the recommendation holder's picture on it - would be sent back to the county's Public Health Department, where it would be issued, Barber said.

'This is a very positive plan for both 215 users and law enforcement,' Andrus said.

Those 215 holders in compliance don't have to worry about being bothered by law enforcement, he said. If someone was growing marijuana and possessed a 215 registration card, law enforcement would not bother them.

Law enforcement's concern, Riggins said, would then shift to those holding illegitimate 215 recommendations.

Barber hoped to have the plan in place by early spring. Registration fees had to be discussed and the plan needed approval from the board of supervisors.

In the end, Barber believes that voluntary registration process would 'make life easier for 215 users.'

'It's less stress for them to deal with,' she said.

Source: Siskiyou Daily News (CA)
Copyright: 2007 Siskiyou Daily News
Contact: editor@siskiyoudaily.com
Website: Yreka's Siskiyou Daily News - Front
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