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Guidelines adopted for medicinal marijuana

DOUG MATTSON, Sun News Service

If you have two pounds of processed marijuana and a legitimate prescription, smoke in peace.

Four hazy years after California voters passed the Compassionate Use Act, Nevada County has added some clarity by adopting a set of guidelines on how much pot a patient can own and what constitutes a legitimate medical A patient is permitted up to two pounds of processed marijuana and to cultivate up to 10 plants at any given time – so long as the plants yield no more than two pounds of processed marijuana.

“It’s enough to stay stoned most of the time for a year,” District Attorney Mike Ferguson said Thursday.

Ferguson reached the guidelines with input from Sheriff’s Department narcotics agents and local users and physicians. Ferguson, Sheriff Keith Royal, Grass Valley Police Chief John Foster and Nevada City Police Chief Lou Trovato signed the guidelines Wednesday, June 14.

George Shouldice, a San Juan Ridge marijuana user, said the standards suffice.

“I’d like to see a little bit more on the amount of plants and marijuana,” he said. “Three pounds and 15 plants – that’s what I was arguing for. Some people were arguing for a lot less. Actually, we all should be happy.”

Shouldice, 56, said he’s growing 10 plants and ingests marijuana to ease chronic lower-back spasms he has had since the mid-1980s.

“It helps, but it’s not a panacea and it doesn’t do it all by itself,” Shouldice said. “I can function a lot better on the marijuana than I can on morphine-type derivative drugs.”

The county allows more marijuana than some counties that bothered to establish guidelines.

“I think they’re some of the best in the state,” Shouldice said. “Less than half of the counties in the state even have guidelines.”

Ferguson said, “When you look at some of the other laws, I think we’re being pretty liberal in what we’re allowing people to have.”

Looking elsewhere, Ferguson said he found that Shasta County allows patients 1.33 pounds of marijuana and two outdoor plants or six indoor plants. Tehama County allows three pounds of marijuana, up to 18 seedlings but no more than three mature plants.

State laws vary, too.

Alaska allows one ounce of usable marijuana and six plants but only up to three mature plants. Colorado allows up to two ounces and three mature plants.

There’s debate over how much a plant can produce.

“We hear about these guerrilla growers who can grow one-and-a-half- and two-pound plants. I can’t do it. Maybe if I had more time at it,” Shouldice said.

Ferguson had hoped to form a medical review committee to look over medical recommendations – much like Sonoma County has – but it “wasn’t workable,” he said. In Mendocino County, marijuana prescription recommendations from doctors must be approved by the county health department.

Nevada County’s guidelines were established partly to keep recommendation-holders from growing limitless crops, partly to give law enforcement some parameters.

The document’s expressed purpose was to establish a “criteria for verification of medicinal marijuana cases and thereby not infringe on legitimate possession of marijuana for medicinal purposes …”

Law enforcement will continue to check the validity of medical recommendations, both to see whether the patient has more marijuana than was recommended, or if the doctor’s recommendation itself was valid.

“A doctor shouldn’t be used to facilitate recreational use,” Ferguson said.

The guidelines may be tweaked as time goes on, he said, “But it’s a start.”


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