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Santa Cruz Council OKs Cultivation of Mj

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April 21,00
The Time Has Come For Medical Marijuana!
Source: Record Searchlight
Santa Cruz says it has a message for the rest of the country: The time has come for the legal use of medical marijuana.
Last week the Santa Cruz City Council unanimously approved an ordinance making the city the fist in the nation to legalize the production and sale of medical marijuana without a doctor's prescription, as long as it is sold at cost or given away.
The ordinance, which takes effect May 11, is Santa Cruz's attempt to put in effect Proposition 215, the medical marijuana initiative that California voters approved in 1996.
The city's new law will allow the medical use of marijuana with a doctor's note certifying that the patient has a condition for which marijuana is considered helpful. Those conditions include AIDS, cancer, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, anorexia, chronic pain and arthritis.
Santa Cruz's law also protects doctors who have been threatened with the loss of their licenses by the federal government if they prescribe medical marijuana. It allows them to write a note stating the patient suffers from a serious condition that marijuana has been known to alleviate.
The hope, Mike Rotkin, a City Council member who helped draft the ordinance, is that Santa Cruz's law could serve as a model for other cities and states that have approved the use of medical marijuana only to find themselves in conflict with federal law enforcers.
After the state initiative passed, then-Attorney General Dan Lungren, as well as the federal government — whose position is that any use of marijuana is illegal — continued to prosecute those who grew or used the drug for medicinal purposes, including numerous medical marijuana clubs in Northern California.
Decisions to prosecute marijuana patients vary from county to county.
In December a Shasta County Superior Court jury acquitted 49-year-old Richard Levin of Redding on a charge of growing marijuana for sale.
In a separate case, Lydia Hall, 62, and her son, Jim Hall, 38, were acquitted of cultivation of marijuana, but convicted of conspiracy to cultivate pot. Jim Hall was also acquitted of possession of marijuana for sale.
After the acquittals Shasta County Sheriff Jim Pope released local guidelines suggested by the state Department of Justice.
Those guidelines allow two outdoor plants, six indoor plants and possession of no more than 1.3 pounds of marijuana.
Last week, Levin and his attorney Eric Berg of Redding, met in Sacramento with David DeAlba, a special assistant attorney general to state Attorney General Bill Lockyer.
De Alba said in a telephone interview that he told Berg and Levin that the state has no guidelines and the information that sheriffs' department say was distributed by the Department of Justice was contained as a footnote in a law enforcement information bulletin.
"It was discussion or a note about how much a plant might yield. I don't believe that can be fairly categorized as a guideline. If it were to be construed as a guideline, that was (former attorney general) Dan Lungren's view, not Bill Lockyer's."
Berg called a press conference Wednesday to report his meeting with DeAlba.
The sheriff's guidelines "imply that anybody growing more than that will be arrested, whether he has a doctor's recommendation or not," Berg said.
"It's completely ignoring the Compassionate Use Act. De Alba says his office has no guidelines and did not intend to create guidelines, so claiming to have the consent of the attorney general's office (to back the local guidelines) is wrong," Berg said.
Interpretation of the Compassionate Use Act is controversial statewide.
The medical marijuana movement was essentially shut down through lawsuits by state and federal officials. That situation has eased since Lockyer became attorney general last year.

Published: April 20, 2000
Copyright: 2000 Redding Record Searchlight - E.W. Scripps