While most attention paid to medical marijuana in California recently has focused on the series of DEA raids and federal prosecutions of growers and providers, six years after the passage of Prop. 215 the state still has no uniform set of guidelines setting out just what constitutes a legal medical marijuana grow under state law. As a result, while all eyes focus on the feds, medical marijuana people are still being arrested by local law enforcement officers.
Ask Martin and LaVonne Victor of Temecula, who had written authorization from a doctor to use marijuana to treat multiple sclerosis. At the end of September, the Riverside County couple was bound over for trial on charges of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and marijuana cultivation. A March raid by Riverside County sheriff's deputies seized several pounds of dried pot and eight plants. Riverside County has no guidelines for what constitutes a legitimate medical marijuana grow.
Or ask Greg Brown of Santa Cruz. He was also arrested in March after police raided his home and seized 15 plants and 10 dried ounces. Brown, a qualified medical marijuana patient under California law, was able to convince a judge last month to drop the charges and return his medicine, but not before going through six months of legal hell. Santa Cruz has no guidelines for what constitutes a legal quantity.
According to a new compilation by MarijuanaInfo.org (http://www.marijuanainfo.org), a web site devoted to providing comprehensive information on marijuana from authoritative sources, Riverside County and the city of Santa Cruz are not alone. Forty-two California counties have no formal guidelines defining compliance with Prop. 215. In the 17 counties that do have formal guidelines, limits vary from 99 plants and three pounds of processed marijuana in Sonoma County to three plants and a half-pound in Tuolumne County.
While activists keep an eternal vigil waiting for Attorney General Bill Lockyer to take the lead, the MarijuanaInfo.org list shows that there are opportunities for political action to protect patients and growers in dozens of counties and cities across the state. The list also illustrates just how widely ranging official interpretations of state medical marijuana law still are, six years after passage of Prop. 215.