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

Director: Chris Conrad. Co-founder: Ralph Sherrow

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Volume 1 # 2. November 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. New SAN resolution / ordinance: 3 pounds or 6 ?
    (See 3# PDF document / See 6# PDF document)
  2. Vacuum in information for law enforcement:
    Time to serve notice of SB 420 provisions (PDF attached)
  3. Local activities
  4. Who we are
  5. Basic SAN guideline elements
  6. Donate to Safe Access Now


New, two-prong SAN Resolution / Ordinance

The SAN medical marijuana guidelines sample city or county ordinance has been an effective tool. Now that SB 420 has been signed by the exiting California governor, circumstances have changed in our working for a safe harbor to protect patient's rights -- and so has our statewide strategy. As you know, the statewide default guidelines starting in January prevent arrests of patients and caregivers who have no more than 8 ounces of processed bud and 6 mature / 12 immature plants. Some SAN activists have been concerned all along that, rather than seeking the full IND allotment., which averages about 6.65 pounds per patient per year, our guidelines reflect a compromise with law enforcement which was struck in the late 1990s. The figure of 3 pounds of bud was designed to remove the question of leaf value by eliminating it from the IND mix. However, with SB 420, only bud is defined as counting towards a patient's dosage.

We all agree on a couple of points, 1) that we need to intensify our efforts because the 420 dosages are too small for most patients and 2) that federal patients receive on average at least 6 pounds per year. Because of the quality of cannabis the IND patients receive, many of us have felt that three pounds of bud, less than one ounce per week, is adequate. However, now that SB 420 in HS 11362.77(c) allows counties to set new guidelines, some of our supporters would rather pursue the full allotment and only use the three pound compromise as a fall back position.

We've decided to try to accommodate both of these concerns and at the same time revise our guideline ordinance to reflect the actual language of SB 420. Much of HS11362.77 is based on our proposals, i.e., doctor's providing letters of exemptions, counties and cities setting local guidelines, counting the bud only instead of leaf, and its minimal protection from arrest extending to all qualified patients instead of being restricted to card holders. What we've done is to rewrite the language of our model resolution to contain the language lifted directly out of the pending Health and Safety code and prepare it in two formats. The first is for six pounds per patient and allows up to 200 square feet of canopy containing not more than 99 plants. The second is for three pounds per patient, 100 square feet of canopy and not more than 99 plants.

Our reps in several counties plan to move forward with the six pound proposal, and we encourage everyone to start with the six pound discussion. In event that you will need to compromise, this gives you a scientific and secure starting point. Both versions are attached to this message or available at our website.

Always point out to your County and City officials that the law specifically empowers them to adopt the SAN guidelines as local policy that overrides the state default amounts.


Vacuum of Information for Law Enforcement

One of the most frustrating aspect of seeing new reforms enacted is hearing the law enforcement officer on the stand say that as far as they know there is no medical exemption for cultivation or possession of cannabis, that all marijuana is illegal and it's up to the courts to sort . This nearly seven years after Prop 215 was enacted as law by the voters. Now that SB 420 prohibits arrests of patients with less than the local guideline or state default amounts (see above), we called Attorney General Bill Lockyer's office to find out what they would be telling police and DA about the new protections from patients. We talked to Scott Thorpe and here's what he said. "Nothing." He said there are too many new laws to send out an advisory on each one.

We at SAN see this as a challenge -- that it is up to us to notify our local law enforcement officials as to the change in the law. Each SAN point person is being asked to go to their Board of Supervisors, their Sheriff and their county DA with a copy of the new law, to serve notice and demand compliance. Key points include:

11362.71.(e) No person or designated primary caregiver in possession of a valid identification card shall be subject to arrest for possession, transportation, delivery, or cultivation of medical marijuana in an amount established pursuant to this article, unless there is reasonable cause to believe that the information contained in the card is false or falsified, the card has been obtained by means of fraud, or the person is otherwise in violation of the provisions of this article.

HS 11362.77(d) Only the dried mature processed flowers of female cannabis plant or the plant conversion shall be considered when determining allowable quantities of marijuana under this section.

11362.71(f) It shall not be necessary for a person to obtain an identification card in order to claim the protections of Section 11362.5.

11362.77(f) A qualified patient or a person holding a valid identification card, or the designated primary caregiver of that qualified patient or person, may possess amounts of marijuana consistent with this article.

The crux of the above is that pursuant to this law, no person with a valid card is subject to arrest for specified amounts, bona fide patients and caregivers who choose not to have a card are still protected, and a qualified patient (i.e., one that does not have a voluntary ID card) may cultivate and possess cannabis in accordance with local or statewide guidelines. We now need to hold their "feet to the fire."

We have drafted the attached sample Notice of Change in the Law to serve on your local Supervisors, DA and Sheriff. You may wish to adjust the tone to fit your circumstances. Please give us your feedback on this process.


Local SAN Activists and Events

Jason Fishbain is organizing a presentation to the Humboldt County Supervisors to reaffirm or expand the enforcement guidelines set forth by DA Paul Gallegos. Karen Byars is helping coordinate. Byars will be doing more networking around the state to help support our local groups.

Pointperson Darren Courtney is now approaching officials in four counties (Sutter, Butte, Glenn, Yuba) to move forward the SAN agenda. He also has a new email address: Be sure to keep updated by visiting the website for changes in local contacts.

It looks like SB 420 is going to get movement up for expanded guidelines in Santa Cruz County. Andrea Tischler and Michael Corral are working up a final version of an ordinance based on the 6-pounds guideline.

Kern County SAN activist Joe Fortt led a group of supporters including Chris Conrad in a late-summer appeal to his county Supervisors to adopt the 6-pounds guidelines. The board has not acted, but with SB 420 about to take effect, Joe hopes to have another presentation for them soon.

Why haven't we heard from you lately? Please drop us a line on what's going on in your county.


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.

See the first SAN newsletter: Visit our archives online!

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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