Safe Access Now Director's Newsletter

Working to provide medical marijuana patients and caregivers with a reasonable "safe harbor" from arrest based on federal research

Founder and director: Chris Conrad. Co-founder: Ralph Sherrow

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 Volume 1 # 1. October 2003

Welcome to the Safe Access Now Newsletter

This is one in a series of occasional newsletters to let you know the status of the Safe Access Now medical marijuana garden guidelines campaign. For more information on our project and the science behind it, please visit our website. Feel free to forward this link to interested people.

  1. SB 420: Green light for SAN guidelines
  2. Sample SAN letter to your county supervisors
  3. Who we are
  4. Basic SAN guideline elements
  5. Where we are today
  6. Donate to Safe Access Now

SB 420: Green light for SAN guidelines

During the past six months we have been working at the county level but also with Senator John Vasconcellos, Assemblyman Mark Leno and state officials regarding SB 420. This bill was originally intended to only set up a patient/ caregiver ID program, but at Governor Davis' insistence a section was added calling on the Department of Health Services to establish "scientific" guidelines. These guidelines would establish a base amount below which patients would no longer be arrested and forced to defend their medicine in court. Since we have already done this, we planned to work with the agency when it made its proposal. When the DHS put a multi-million dollar price tag on the research phase of the project, the bill authors balked and met with interested parties to create a new guideline. The bill was amended to include the federal baseline standard of 6 pounds per patient per year. Then Attorney General Bill Lockyer met with the authors to say he would have Davis kill the bill unless an arbitrary baseline using the lowest amount allowed by any county -- 8 ounces of marijuana -- and the second lowest number of plants: 12 immature or 6 mature. Although wildly unrealistic, these figures were put in the bill, but Vasconcellos also included two key provisions of the SAN proposal: Counties may increase the guidelines but not reduce them, and physicians may offer a letter of exemption for patients who need more medicine or a larger garden. SAN launched a campaign with Americans for Safe Access to get those base amounts increased to our preferred levels, but were unsuccessful. Governor Davis signed the bill into law on October 13.

There are many good aspects to SB 420, including its voluntary nature, its protection of patients transporting cannabis, for collective gardens and coops to function within the state etc. (Visit for an analysis.)

The most important thing is that the bill is a green light for our campaign, empowering localities to set their own guidelines. That is why it is more important than ever for you to join our campaign.


Sample letter for you to use

Attached to this newsletter is a sample letter in PDF and MS Word formats for you to use along with the materials that are downloadable from our website. Please personalize it to send to your own local county supervisors to get the ball rolling, and attach appropriate documents from the SAN website.

Who we are

SAN is a non-partisan organization dedicated to the proper implementation of uniform guidelines in all of California's counties in compliance with H&S code 11362.5, the Compassionate Use Act of 1996. It was founded by Chris Conrad with Ralph Sherrow and has activists in about half the counties of California. We are an educational and activist organization only, and in no way supply medicine. Our proposal has been to stop the arrests as well as the prosecution of patients by creating a safe harbor of presumed compliance with the law.

We work with all levels of government to achieve this goal.


SAN guideline basics

Since the federal government's IND program has established six pounds per year of marijuana as a safe and effective standard, with some patients receiving even more, SAN proposes that patients should be allowed to cultivate and consume that amount as a reasonable level of compliance. However, since many patients use less than that amount, we offer a compromise of allowing up to 3 pounds of processed cannabis bud per patient per year, which typically requires a canopy area of 100 square feet. Any amount of plants could be grown to fill in this area without exceeding the yield, but since a 5 year federal sentences is mandatory for growing 100 or more plants, we advocate this 99 plants as the ceiling for patients. In addition, our proposals allow a physician to write a note that will exempt patients who need more from being bound by these figures. See our website <> for more details.


Where we are today

We have local activists working in counties throughout the State. Variations of the SAN guidelines have been adopted in Sonoma, Humboldt, Del Norte and Mendocino counties. Courts across the state have recognized the reasonable nature of patients following these guidelines. Our original plan of working county by county was disrupted by pending state legislation, but now we are in a better position than ever to proceed -- with your help.

Remember, the new law goes into effect January 1: Do you know where your guidelines are?

Thanks for your interest and assistance,

-- Chris Conrad and Ralph Sherrow


Please donate to Safe Access Now

Safe Access Now does not charge for the time and materials we expend to advance the safe harbor proposal for patients, but that does not mean it does not cost money to run this campaign. If you can help with a donation of any size, please send it to our financial coordinator, Chris Conrad, with a note saying it is intended for Safe Access Now work. If you plan to donate $100 or more and want a tax deduction, we can arrange a fiscal sponsor. Cash is great, but something of a mailing risk.

We do not have a bank account in our name, so please make checks out to either Chris Conrad or Family Council on Drug Awareness, and mail to:

Safe Access Now, PO Box 1716, El Cerrito CA 94530.

See all our past SAN newsletters: Visit our archives online!

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