A Sonoma County jury found two men charged with growing 899 marijuana
plants for a San Francisco medical pot club innocent Wednesday afternoon.

The jury found that Kenneth E. Hayes and Michael Foley -- former officers
of Californians Helping Alleviate Medical Problems, or CHAMP -- innocent of
charges of cultivating marijuana, possessing marijuana for sale and
possession of hashish.

Hayes attorney and Proposition 215 co-author Bill Panzer said the verdict
shows how out of step Sonoma County District Attorney Michael Mullins is
with people in the county. Despite the vagaries in the law, Panzer said,
jurors told him after that they think centralized cannabis clubs are the
best way to distribute marijuana to sick people.

"Mr. Mullins can't see marijuana has medical value because he has his eyes
closed," Panzer said. "He is out of step with his constituency, the people
of this state, and the majority of the people in this country."

Mullins, who refused to respond to Panzer's comments, agreed that the law
is ambiguous, but said the only way to define it is to bring a case before
a jury. He said he hoped the case will spur the state Legislature to pass
clearer rules on distribution.

The jury, made up of eight men and four women, took almost six hours to
reach a verdict. Courtroom spectators applauded after the verdict was read.
The trial lasted seven weeks.

Attorneys for the men argued their clients had acted within the bounds of
Prop. 215 in supplying the pot to CHAMP's 1,280 members.

Sonoma County Deputy District Attorney Carla Claeys argued that Hayes and
Foley grew the marijuana for profit. She said it was impossible for them to
be the main caregivers for so many people.

The unusual case, in which San Francisco District Attorney Terence Hallinan
testified for the defense, is the second not guilty verdict in a medical
marijuana case in the county this year.

Alan MacFarline, a Sonoma County man who uses marijuana to alleviate the
effects of his cancer treatment, was found innocent in January. Prosecutors
failed to convince a jury that the 100 plants police seized -- which would
have produced a harvest of 25 pounds of pot -- was too much for one person.
MacFarline currently has a claim against the county for allowing his
marijuana to become moldy in a police evidence locker.

When Hallinan testified late last month, he said he monitored how the club
was formed, and was satisfied Hayes qualified as a primary caregiver.
Hallinan, a strong supporter of the medical marijuana law and cannabis
clubs, also said outside court that the case would not have been brought in
San Francisco. Sonoma County's Mullins has stated just as strongly that the
clubs are illegal.

Hayes, a former executive director of the club, and Foley, a former general
manager, were arrested in May 1999 after investigators found 899 plants in
a greenhouse near Petaluma. Also seized were 14 pounds of processed
marijuana, more than a pound of hashish and $3,700 in cash.


Newshawk: http://www.cannabisnews.com/
Pubdate: Thu, 19 Apr 2001
Source: San Francisco Examiner (CA)
Copyright: 2001 San Francisco Examiner
Contact: letters@examiner.com
Website: http://www.examiner.com/
Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/389
Author: Dan Evans, Examiner Staff