A defense expert in a medical marijuana trial gave a much smaller estimate
Monday of how much pot a Santa Rosa man's garden would yield, contradicting
the previous estimate of a sheriff's detective who confiscated the plants.

Chris Conrad, a marijuana cultivation expert, testified that Alan
MacFarlane's garden would have yielded 3 pounds of marijuana when it was
raided on the first occasion, not the 30 to 60 pounds estimated by a
detective who testified last week.

Conrad, who has qualified as a court expert on more than 40 occasions, said
the estimate by law enforcement was grossly exaggerated. Under
cross-examination by prosecutor Carla Claeys, Conrad admitted he had not
seen MacFarlane's plants and was basing his estimates on photographs.

The El Cerrito author of several books, including "Hemp for Health," has
interviewed more than 1,000 users of medical marijuana and consults for
government agencies about cannabis use. He spent all day on the witness
stand in MacFarlane's trial, the first medical marijuana jury case in
Sonoma County and one of only a few so far in California.

MacFarlane is charged with felony cultivation even though he had his
doctor's approval to use pot under the state voter initiative that allowed
the use of medical marijuana.

Prosecutors said the amount MacFarlane was growing was much more than he
needed for his own medical needs.

On Monday, Conrad testified that the 74 plants and clones seized the first
time at MacFarlane's west Santa Rosa home in May 1999 would have yielded
between 2.1 and 3 pounds. He based his opinion on studies conducted by the
Drug Enforcement Agency and the National Institute of Drug Abuse, which
conducted studies in Mississippi and published guidelines for yield based
on plant diameter.

In contrast, Detective Sgt. Rob Gordon testified last week that the plants
would have yielded between 30 and 60 pounds of dried leaves and buds, or up
to 1 pound per outdoor plant.

MacFarlane also is being prosecuted for growing an additional 36 plants
found when the narcotics task force returned to his home several months later.

Conrad called MacFarlane's plants "a very basic garden," in contrast to the
detective's description of it as sophisticated.


Newshawk: Newshawk: http://www.cannabisnews.com/
Pubdate: Tue, 23 Jan 2001
Source: Press Democrat, The (CA)
Copyright: 2001 The Press Democrat
Contact: letters@pressdemo.com
Address: Letters Editor, P. O. Box 569, Santa Rosa CA 95402
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Author: Clark Mason, The Press Democrat
Related: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v01/n111/a03.html