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 2 # 1. February 2004

Welcome to the Safe Access Now Newsletter List

This is one in a series of 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 (link above).

These newsletters are issued on an occasional basis. To subscribe drop a note with the subject "Subscribe SAN" to to be added to our list for future issues. To unsubscribe from this newsletter send a message with the subject "Unsubscribe SAN." Feel free to forward to interested people.


  1. Gallegos wins Humboldt recall
  2. SB 420: Green light or reverse?
  3. New SAN flyer for SB 420
  4. Is your community SB 420 compliant?
  5. What happened to the booklet?
  6. Collectives as a patient organizing tool
  7. Who we are
  8. SAN Guideline basics
  9. Donate to SAN


Gallegos wins Humboldt recall

Humboldt County DA Paul Gallegos, who adopted the SAN guidelines as county policy and surprised everyone by taking on Maxxam Texas (Pacific Lumber) for fraud in issuing its environmental reports, has been vindicated. The logging giant tried to use the SAN guidelines to paint the DA as being "soft on crime," but voters saw through their scam and returned him to office by a 69-31 percent vote.

SB 420: Green Light ... or Reverse?

When Senator Vasconcellos and Assemblyman Leno introduced SB 420, they sought to make life easier for patients by creating a state ID card to protect them from arrest. Safe Access Now called it a "green light" for expanded guidelines. But whereas for years we've made progress educating counties to allow patients to harvest 3 pounds of medicine for the year and grow up to 99 plants as long as the canopy is 100 square feet or less, HS 11362.77(a) gave counties an easy out and something to cite in court to accuse patients of having too much -- without any rational scientific basis for its numbers.

The amount stipulated in the law was supposed to be 6 pounds of bud plus a 200 square foot garden area, but at the last minute, a very low "floor" of tolerance was substituted -- no more than 8 ounces of finished marijuana (bud or conversion) plus 6 mature or 12 immature plants. We opposed those numbers as not being scientific, fair or practical for medical marijuana patients on two grounds:

1) Outdoor gardeners need to harvest more than 8 ounces in the fall to last the whole year, while an indoor grower needs to grow more than 6 plants to sustain a garden in a small area; and

2) Counties and law enforcement agencies tend to regard a floor as a ceiling.

Sure enough, the ID program is stalled by state agencies while guideline policy seem to be thrown into reverse by the new law. Expansive local guidelines are authorized by the bill, but many community agencies took it as an opportunity to throw out science and subject patients to arrest and possible prison. Ventura county reduced its already meager guidelines and the Humboldt guidelines remain in place while the County BOS considers whether or not they will stay. A similar plan was being steamrollered through the City of Oakland (once known as a city of compassion), until advocates fought the anti-medical marijuana move. Now the city has a split plan that allows patients to have up to 2.5 pounds of bud and 72 plants within 32 square feet of canopy, but limits coops and participating patients to 8 ounces per patient and 6 mature plus 12 immature plants.

SAN Director Chris Conrad met with Vasconcellos aide, Oanh Ho, who said that after last year's battles, the Senator is not inclined to increase the guidelines, but he may submit an amendment that "A qualified patient, a person with an identification card, or any designated primary caregiver may cultivate and possess any amount of marijuana consistent with the medical needs of that qualified patient or person with an identification card," or words to that effect. That remains to be seen.

We are asking for two things:

1) Increase the amounts protected by HS 11362.77 or

2) At least change it to "6 mature and 12 immature plants."

Oanh has asked us to document any rollbacks around the state to show so as to encourage the Senator to raise the numbers. We need all SAN reps to help with this process by sending any information they learn on this to Chris Conrad so we can lobby for this change.

In the meantime, Vasconcellos' office has offered to send letters of support for local efforts to win better guidelines. Contact Chris if you need such a letter.

New flyer explains SB 420 effects

Safe Access Now has a new flyer that gives a general summary of SB 420 and how it affects patient rights relative to Prop 215. Click here to view as a PDF.

Is your community SB 420 compliant?

We need to ensure that patients receive the small amount of relief that is due them pursuant to SB 420, now effective as Health and Safety Code HS 11362.7 and 11362.8. The Attorney General's office told us it is not making any effort to inform law enforcement of the new immunity from arrest, and many prosecutors and agencies that do know about it are likely to ignore it. Therefore we are encouraging people to serve notice on their county supervisors, sheriffs, local police and DAs with a letter that you can download from our website by clicking here.

If they continue to fail to comply, civil action may be required, but you will have to document that you have given notice and filed complaints in order to gain standing in court to pursue economic relief and damage awards.

Remember, we are not endorsing those unfair limits. When you serve notice of SB 420, to also submit the SAN introductory letter and model ordinance, and ask them to raise your local guidelines using the 3 pound or 6 pound ordinance. There are plenty of supporting materials available on the web site, as well.


What happened to the SAN booklet?

Since the second half of 2003 we have been promising to make available our booklet on the SAN guidelines, and people have begun to wonder what happened.

The answer is: "SB 420." We have since found ourselves tied up with negotiating, lobbying and debating the measure, debating its implementation and implications, and fighting the rollbacks mentioned above. Having the booklet out would be a help with all this, except that we are in a quandary trying to reconcile the advice we put in the book based on the Mower Decision (amounts must be reasonably related to medical need) with the SB 420 guidelines (8 ounces processed plus 6 mature or 12 immature plants). We don't want to see patients putting themselves at more risk by following our advice, but we don't want to undermine the science by bringing undue attention to the non-binding limits in SB 420.

We are therefore still working to reconcile these questions and will hopefully have the booklet available soon.

Medical Marijuana Collectives

The medical marijuana collective is a new feature of SB 420 that is being embraced by patients around the state. It is not well defined but seems to offer a way around the limits placed on patients and coops; cooperatives already have criteria defined in state law. While caregivers are limited in their activities by county lines, patient and caregiver coops are allowed to function "within the state." So far only the City of Oakland has attempted to redefine what this means, limiting it at not more than three patients. It remains to be seen whether other counties will try this or even if it can stand up in court, since it appears to unfairly restrict patient rights under state law.

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 more than 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 99 plants as the voluntary 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.


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.

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