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200 protest medical pot rules

By Judith Scherr Daily Planet staff
Wednesday May 09, 2001

A Berkeley City Council ordinance says 10 cannabis plants per patient is enough medicine, but some 200 protesters demonstrating outside a City Council meeting Tuesday said it’s not. 

“The City Council is attempting to (enact) the drug war on us,” said David Taylor, of the Alliance of Berkeley Patients, addressing the crowd. “The city government cannot criminalize us.” 

The Alliance is calling for the city to allow patients to possess 46 flowering plants and 96 plants in other stages of the plants’ cycle. That allows for various cultivation problems and patients’ individual needs, which advocates say can exceed the 1.5-2.5 pound limit and the 10 plant maximum. 

Inside the council chambers, medical cannabis patients addressed the council, hoping to get the public officials to reconsider the law. Linda Jackson was among them. Twenty-five years ago she was in an accident and paralyzed. A nurse gave her some medical cannabis, illegal at the time, which eased her pain and helped her begin to move. She told the council that she later became a nurse and is now working with the Berkeley Patients Group, helping others control their pain with medical cannabis. Jackson said it is unfair to call for a fixed number of plants. 

Angel McClary agreed. “We are in no way going to follow your ordinance,” she told the council, explaining what it was like without the medicine, to sit in a chair and to be unable to hug her children. “It’s about real lives, real people,” she said. 

Police Chief Dash Butler, however, said there are good reasons to limit the number of plants and the amount of cannabis permitted to each patient. When there are larger quantities and a large amount of cash, the cannabis clubs become a target for thieves. Butler pointed to “two significant robberies” last month in San Francisco. “Would you want it in your neighborhood?” he asked. “There are significant public issues.” 

In an interview Monday, Councilmember Betty Olds pointed out that the ordinance permits doctors to prescribe more cannabis than the 1.5-2.5 pounds and 10 plants the ordinance allows. But Robert Raich, an Oakland attorney and medical marijuana champion, said the clause is ineffective. If doctors recommend a specific amount of cannabis, that is interpreted as a prescription. “It violates federal law,” he said. 

The ordinance was not on the council agenda. Councilmember Kriss Worthington said it might take a citizen referendum to make the changes. 

In a related matter, the council was to have discussed an ordinance Tuesday to regulate cannabis clubs through changes in zoning regulations – something the demonstrators also oppose – but they decided to consider the matter at a future meeting. 



City ordinance for the implementation of Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, approved March 27, 2001: 


Individuals: can possess up to 1.5 pounds of dried cannabis cultivated indoors and 2.5 pounds cultivated outdoors. Each can also possess 10 cannabis plants. 

Medical Cannabis Collectives: Qualified patients can join together to cultivate and manufacture medical Cannabis for their personal medical use. Members of the collective must be patients or their primary caregivers. 

The collectives cannot possess more than the amount per individual patient allowed, that is 1.5 or 2.5 pounds of dried cannabis per patient or 10 plants per patient. 

Collectives can possess a maximum of 12.5 pounds of dried Cannabis at one time, regardless of the number of members. And it can cultivate a maximum of 50 plants.  

Cultivation: where cultivation is not visible to the naked eye from a public or private property, a collective can grow up to 50 plants. However, on an outdoor parcel that is visible, a collective is restricted to growing 10 plants. 

Flexibility: Physicians can prescribe the amount of the medicine appropriate for the individual. The law says: “While each qualified patient will have different needs regarding appropriate personal medical use, this section seeks to standardize the maximum allowable amounts of medical Cannabis that qualified patients and their primary caregivers can possess or cultivate under state law, in the absence of a medical doctor’s authorization to possess or cultivate a greater amount of Cannabis as a result of the patient’s particular illness or health condition.”