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Safe Access Now Tools for Activists

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1) ) Sample cover letter from Point Person / Download as PDF (16k)

2) SAN introductory letter / Download as PDF (36k)

SAN introductory letter relative to SB 420 as PDF (72k)

3) Sonoma County DA Mike Mullins letter / Download as PDF (36k)

4) Model 3# ordinance/resolution / Download as PDF for 3# guidelines (32k)

Model 6# ordinance / Download as PDF for 6# guidelines (28k)

5) SAN explanatory charts and supporting data / Download as PDF (132k)

6) Model caregiver designation / Download as PDF (24k)

7) Physicians letter of exemption / Download as PDF (4k)

8) Safe Access Now one-page handout / Download as PDF (44k)

9) If you need a physician for consultation

10) If you need an experienced medical marijuana attorney

11) If you need a court-qualified cannabis expert ...

12) Statewide activists endorse SAN garden guidelines at ASA conference

13) County and local guidelines

14) California county SAN reps

15) Outside of California

16) Mower Decision: Cal Supreme Court validates HS 11362.5, places burden on prosecution, sets groundwork for pre-trial motion to dismiss charges per code section 995 / Download as PDF

17) Links

18) 80 Related Web Resources on medical marijuana

19 Federal National Academy of Science / Institute on Medicine recommendations

Not all counties have contact persons, but if you would like to help us, contact Safe Access Now.

Introduction to the SAN guidelines proposal

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Safe Access Now!
Medical Marijuana Patient Support

PO Box 1716, El Cerrito CA 94530

Autumn, 2002

Dear DA or County Supervisor

I am writing to you about a matter that deeply concerns both of us. Since the 1996 passage of Proposition 215, the medical marijuana law, California's counties have been struggling with the key question left unresolved in the measure: How can anyone tell if a cannabis garden is reasonably related to the medical needs of a patient?

This question is made difficult by several variables. 1) Every garden is a bit different. 2) Grown outdoors, even a few big cannabis plants can produce large amounts of bud. 3) Many indoor gardens use a "Sea of Green" method involving scores or even hundreds of tiny plants. 4) Different growers get different yields while using the same techniques.

While law enforcement attempts to limit garden size to a very few plants, an exceptional grower can still produce many pounds by growing gigantic plants. At the same time, juries statewide are acquitting patients arrested with hundreds of plants and multiple pounds of processed bud. Such a trial can generate lots of bad publicity, send a mixed message to the community about your leadership, and cost the county more than $100,000.

What can local officials do? The county of Sonoma grappled with this question. First it took a hard-line position, aggressively arresting and prosecuting patients, only to find that it had wasted valuable public money and resources. In the course of fighting these cases, however, DA Michael Mullins came to an important conclusion: There is a scientific method that allows patients to grow in any planting variation they wish, indoor or out, and still makes it easy for police to gauge the likely output. It is a cannabis yield formula that was developed and published in 1992 by the US Drug Enforcement Administration.

The result of that discovery (and additional work with patients in SAMM, the Sonoma Alliance for Medical Marijuana) was the development of the "Sonoma Guidelines," a copy of which is attached. Put simply, 100 square feet of garden canopy will typically produce three pounds of usable cannabis bud per year, a common amount used by chronic dosage patients. The guidelines allow up to 100 square feet and three pounds of processed bud per patient per year. This gives patients wide latitude, and the only thing that a field officer needs is a tape measure to check if a garden is in compliance. Any excess can either be confiscated or spared, if the patient has a written statement from a physician stipulating that they require more than the guidelines provide. One additional restriction they adopted is to limit patients to less than 100 plants each, so as to keep the quantity below the federal enforcement threshold. You may wish to consider that as a practical concern, but it is not essential to the canopy formula, so counting plants is never required.

This system is so simple, and yet it works! It allows patients to grow an adequate supply for their personal need, indoor or out, but it restricts even the most prolific grower. For example, if a patient decides to grow larger plants, they need to reduce the number of plants so as not to exceed the 100 square foot limit. Remember, that figure is a maximum amount; some patients may use less space, depending on their need and skill levels. These guidelines eliminate the need to train officers on how to calculate individual garden yields, distinguish between male or female and vegetative or flowering plants, determine what part of the crop is usable, assess patient needs, or interpret various modes of consumption, processing and storage. No method is perfect, but anybody with a tape measure and calculator can use these guidelines, so they protect a substantial majority of patients' needs.

Patients across the state have endorsed the garden evaluation portion of these medical marijuana guidelines as being safe and effective. The Sonoma DA's office is proud of its program and has offered to help other counties adopt it. I urge you to discuss this with Mr. Mullins, and I offer my assistance as a court-qualified cannabis expert.

The attached materials include a copy of the guidelines, with contact information for the DA's office, as well as my curriculum vitae. Please do not hesitate to contact me for further information or supporting documents.

Thanks for your consideration,


Chris Conrad, Safe Access Now!

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Letter from Sonoma County DA Michael Mullins

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County of Sonoma, Hall of Justice
600 Administration Drive, Room 212-J
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
(707) 565-2311

J. Michael Mullins, District Attorney

Gregory J. Jacobs, Assistant District Attorney

Kathleen D. DeLoe, Kenneth J. Gnoss, Larry J. Scoufos, Chief Deputies

May 7, 2001

Sonoma Alliance for Medical Marijuana
P.O. Box 216
Sebastopol, CA 95473

Subject: Revised Guidelines

Dear Sir or Madam:

Enclosed are the Amended Guidelines for medical marijuana. These guidelines were adopted last Friday, May 4, 2001 by the Chief's Association of Sonoma County.

As you can readily ascertain by reviewing paragraphs 8, 9, and 10, we have essentially adopted the recommendations of your organizations. Each patient will be allowed to possess three pounds of processed marijuana per year. In order to grow that quantity we are allowing a canopy of 100 square feet, not to exceed 99 plants.

The key here is we have not made a strict plant restriction, but allowed the number of plants to be grown according to the conditions present at each caregiver or patient site. To that end, it is important that each patient possess no more than 99 plants and ensure that these are of sufficient size to grow no more than 3 pounds per patient per year.

In addition, each caregiver may supply marijuana for more than one patient. However, it is important that the caregiver have information concerning the patients in their possession. Thank you for your cooperation in this matter.


J. Michael Mullins, District Attorney,
County of Sonoma, State of California

jrn / sammmay

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SAN Guideline Model Ordinance

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COUNTY OF _____________________________________, CALIFORNIA

ORDINANCE NO. 200____ - ______________________


WHEREAS, in 1996 the voters of the State of California approved Proposition 215, also known as the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, creating Health and Safety Code 11362.5; and

WHEREAS, HS 11362.5(d) states, "Section 11357, relating to the possession of marijuana [cannabis], and Section 11358, relating to the cultivation of marijuana, shall not apply to a patient, or to a patient's primary caregiver, who possesses or cultivates marijuana for the personal medical purposes of the patient upon the written or oral recommendation or approval of a physician."; and

WHEREAS, since the 1970s, medical marijuana patients in the federal IND program have received and smoked approximately 6.5 pounds of dried cannabis per year, thereby establishing a safe and effective dosage for a chronic daily use patient to possess and consume; and

WHEREAS, some patients require more than that amount of cannabis bud per year, especially when it is eaten, used in tincture, used topically or by methods other than being smoked; and

WHEREAS, 3 pounds of dried cannabis bud per year is a reasonable compromise safe harbor amount that allows most compliant individuals to cultivate, possess and consume their medicine; and WHEREAS, a 100 square foot canopy of mature female cannabis plants, typically will yield 3 pounds of dried and processed cannabis bud per year outdoor; regardless of the number of plants, and

WHEREAS, successful propagation, breeding and cultivation of cannabis may require large numbers of plants in various stages of growth, especially when grown in the indoor "Sea of Green" method which typically produces lower yields than outdoor gardens but affords multiple harvests per year; and

WHEREAS, in 2003, Senate Bill 420 created HS 11362.7 that, among other things, sets forth in HS 11362.77(a) an impractical default threshold for immunity from arrest at 8 ounces of dried female cannabis flowers in addition to 6 mature or 12 immature plants per qualified patient; and

WHEREAS, HS 11362.77(c) empowers this jurisdiction when it states that "Counties and cities may retain or enact medical marijuana guidelines allowing qualified patients or primary caregivers to exceed the state limits set forth in subdivision (a)"; and

WHEREAS, other counties and cities throughout the State of California have enacted or retained guidelines for the implementation and enforcement of HS 11362.5 in amounts that are significantly greater than the threshold amounts set forth in HS 11362.77(a); and

WHEREAS, failure to enact a community standard for presumed compliance with HS 11362.77 may effectively limit local patients and caregivers to the arbitrary and unreasonable amounts as set forth in HS 11362.77(a), thereby causing undue pain, suffering and legal risks; and

WHEREAS, pursuant to HS 11362.775, qualified patients and caregivers "who associate within the State of California in order collectively or cooperatively to cultivate marijuana for medical purposes, HS 11362.5 and HS 11362.77 shall not solely on the basis of that fact be subject to state criminal sanctions under Section 11357, 11358, 11359, 11360, 11366, 11366.5, or 11570." and

WHEREAS, law enforcement officers require a simple, reasonable and efficient guideline to use in evaluating individual and collective patient medical marijuana gardens and on-hand supplies; and

WHEREAS, this ordinance does not address the enforcement of federal law.

THEREFORE, BE IT NOW RESOLVED that this County Board of Supervisors does hereby enact the following medical marijuana guidelines for qualified patients or primary caregivers within its jurisdiction per HS 11362.77(c):

A) A qualified patient, a person holding a valid identification card, or the designated primary caregiver of that qualified patient or person may possess and cultivate any amount of marijuana consistent with the patient's medical needs.

B) Possession of up to 3 pounds of dried cannabis bud or conversion per patient shall not constitute probable cause for arrest or prosecution of any person listed in (A).

C) To obtain that amount, any person listed in (A) may also cultivate up to 99 cannabis plants per patient with not more than 100 square feet of total garden canopy, measured by the combined vegetative growth area. Gardens that are consistent with this provision shall not constitute probable cause for arrest or prosecution.

D) Qualified patients, caregivers and providers who collectively or cooperatively cultivate marijuana for medical purposes shall not exceed the standards set forth in (B) and (C).

E) Any person listed in (A) and having a physician's assent that this guideline is not adequate for the qualified patient's medical needs may possess and cultivate an amount of cannabis up to six pounds of bud or conversion and up to 200 square feet of canopy.

F) As defined in HS 11362.5, "Primary caregiver means the individual designated by the person exempted under this act that has consistently assumed responsibility for the housing, health or safety of that person." For purposes of this policy, a primary caregiver shall include any adult designated as such in writing by a qualified or card-holding patient, in the interests of their personal health and safety.

G) For purposes of identification, such designation shall be posted at the garden site or in the possession of the caregiver, along with a copy of the physician's document.

H) Law enforcement shall not arrest persons who are compliant with these provisions, and shall leave them, their medical marijuana supply and their garden unmolested. Amounts in excess of those above shall be preserved in usable form in case it need be returned.


_____th day of _____________________, 20_____ at a regular meeting of the

_________________________ County Board of Supervisors

_________________________ City Council

by the following vote:

YES _______ NO _______ ABSTAIN _______ ABSENT _______

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Sample physician's exemption letter

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(on office letterhead)

To whom it may concern,

I am a physician licensed in the state of California. _________________________ (print name legibly) is my patient. I have approved this patient's use of medical marijuana.

This patient has advised me that, due to personal circumstances, the state and local guideline amount in HS11362.77(a) is not adequate to provide for his/her personal medical marijuana dosage. This statement is to affirm that this qualified patient or their primary caregiver has a recommendation that this quantity does not meet the qualified patient' s medical needs, and therefore the qualified patient or primary caregiver may possess an amount of marijuana consistent with the patient's needs.


__________________, M.D.

Designation of Primary Caregiver

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(California Health & Safety Code 11362.5)

I, _________________________________________________________, (Print name legibly) hereby certify that I suffer from cancer, anorexia, AIDS, chronic pain, spasticity, glaucoma, arthritis, migraine, or other serious illness and I have obtained a recommendation or approval from a licensed physician to use medical marijuana (cannabis) in treating my illness. (A copy of my recommendation or approval is attached hereto).

I hereby designate ____________________________________________ (Print name legibly) as my "Primary Caregiver," in accordance with Health & Safety Code 11362.5(d) and 11362.5(e), which read as follows:

(d) Section 11357, relating to the possession of marijuana, and Section 11358, relating to the cultivation of marijuana, shall not apply to a patient, or to a patients primary caregiver, who possesses or cultivates marijuana for the personal medical purposes of the patient upon the written or oral recommendation or approval of a physician.

(e) For the purpose of this section, "primary caregiver" means the individual designated by the person exempted under this act who has consis-tently assumed responsibility for the housing, health, or safety of that person.

I agree that I will consistently rely on the above-named person as the primary source of my medical marijuana as a matter of my personal health and safety. This designation shall remain in effect for a period of one year.

Dated: ______________________



NOTICE TO LAW ENFORCEMENT: Pursuant to the Constitution of the State of California, Amendment III, Sec. 3.5(c), state law enforcement officials have "no power … to refuse to enforce a statute on the basis that federal law or federal regulations prohibit the enforcement of such statute." It is therefore your legal duty and responsibility to respect and obey this agreement per the above-cited legislation, and to leave the individuals and gardens herein described unmolested and unreported to federal authorities. Failure to follow state law may result in legal action being taken against you. Thank you for your understanding and compliance.

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Sample cover letter to send with these documents

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Your name Phone number
Street address
City, State Zip

Dear DA or County Supervisor,

I am a bona fide patient living with serious health problems and I have a physician's approval for the use of medical marijuana, pursuant to Health and Safety Code 11362.5.

Due to the uncertainty of law enforcement standards, I fear that I am at significant risk of false arrest and prosecution, despite my good-faith efforts at compliance with State law. I would therefore like your office to address the issue of the amount of Medical Marijuana a patient or their designated caregiver may grow or possess and be presumed innocent of wrongdoing.

As my elected official, I look to you to provide reasonable guidance and relief. You will find attached a series of documents prepared by patients, law enforcement and cannabis experts that explain a guideline for presumed compliance with the law. It is gaining acceptance throughout the state, and I believe that it is time for our county to adopt the sample resolution attached, or a reasoned version of it, to protect patients in this jurisdiction.

Despite the depth of information I am providing, the underlying concept is as easy as 1-2-3.

1) A California patient should be allowed at least half as much cannabis as are federally supplied medical marijuana patients of the Investigational New Drug (IND) program.

2) Scientific standards show that a small garden comprising 100 square feet of plant canopy is sufficient to provide this amount, and

3) While the size and number of plants are not significant when the total area of the canopy is this small, up to 99 plants will generally be overlooked by federal prosecutors.

Because the dosage described above is not adequate for all patients, a safety valve allows the physician to write a note that will exempt patients from these limits when necessary.

One final point: If a cannabis garden is discovered and claimed as medicinal marijuana, police should be instructed not to destroy the garden because if you destroy it, you could be doing irreparable harm to the patients who rely on it. Photographs can be taken, and leaves, from the bottom of the plants, can be taken, if sample evidence is needed. The garden and the allowed amount of cannabis should not, however, be taken from a patient or caregiver until there is clear determination that it is intended for illicit purposes.

I look forward to having the opportunity to speak with you about this and am prepared to offer testimony and documentation as to the practical value of these guidelines, which are commonly referred to as the Sonoma Garden Guidelines or as "Safe Access Now" guidelines.

Thank you for your attention,

(Sign and type your name legibly.)

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If you need a court qualified cannabis expert, visit ChrisConrad.com


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