Jeff Nunes, 26, loves his plants. He fingers the green, glossy leaves and looks lovingly at the 2-foot-tall plant as if it were his life's salvation.
Nunes believes it is. He says the 11 marijuana plants provide the cannabis that relieves him of extreme back pain. "They said I was going to be in chronic pain all my life," he said. A fall in 2001 left him bedridden for two years.

"As soon as I started using cannabis, I gave them back all the pills," Nunes said. "I started seeing how much more effective this is than other drugs."

Nunes and his marijuana plants are at the center of what appears to be a change in attitude among Tulare County law enforcement agencies -- the result of a ruling by a federal appeals court in December.

Visalia police raided Nunes' house in September and, Nunes says, removed 18 marijuana plants and tools he used to process them.

Nunes said he showed officers his two recommendation cards that identify him as a legitimate user of medical marijuana.

"When they realized I wasn't a drug dealer but a patient, their attitude changed," he said. "I tried to help them understand what was going on here and it was a legit operation."

Even then, he said, "They uprooted all my plants. They destroyed all of it. They took all my medicinal tools. I had enough medicine that would have lasted me until the next season."

Three months later, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said people who use marijuana on the advice of a doctor are exempt from federal laws that ban the substance if they grow their own or get it free.

Source: Tulare Advance-Register (CA)
Author: Heidi Rowley, Staff Writer
Published: Wednesday, May 26, 2004
Copyright: 2004, Tulare Advance-Register