Volume 2 # 2. June 2004
Welcome to the Safe
Access Now Newsletter List
This is one in a series of newsletters to let you know
the status of California's medical marijuana garden
guidelines. For more information on our project and the
science behind it, please visit our website (link
These newsletters are issued
on an occasional basis. To
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note with the subject "Subscribe SAN" to
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SAN." Feel free to forward to interested people.
- Vindication for SAN in Humboldt County
- Raich v Ashcroft leads to federal
- SB 420
collectives taking root
- SAN Regional reports and
- Who we
- Donate to
Humboldt County Taskforce backs SAN
After six months of study and debate, the Humboldt County
Medical Marijuana Taskforce came to an agreement on 6/7/04
that vindicated DA Paul Gallegos and endorsed the Safe
Access Now Guidelines. These allow patients to possess 3
pounds of dried mature female cannabis flowers and up to 100
square feet of garden area. The removal of plant counts is
also consistent with SAN policy; its reference to the number
of 99 plants has always been a jurisdictional factor and an
advisory to patients against federal mandatory minimum
Next comes a vote before the Board of Supervisors to
decide if the guidelines will remain as County policy or be
modified again. The SAN guidelines have been fully or
partially adopted in various localities throughout the
state, beginning with Sonoma County. They are currently
under consideration in San Francisco and Santa Cruz
Counties. This outcome bolsters our campaign, and we invite
everyone to come to our website and sign up to get your
local city or county to adopt the guidelines, as well.
There are downloadable PDF files and text files of all
the documents and materials you need to make a case for this
compromise amount, based on the federal IND program and the
federal yields study in Mississippi.
Raich v Ashcroft leads to
The federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in
favor of California patients Diane Monson and Angel Raich
that the Controlled Substances Act is probably being
unconstitutionally applied to patients whose use is legal in
California and their cannabis is wholly produced and
consumed within the state. Click
here to download ruling as a PDF file.
This has led to two injunctions against the DEA to
prevent raids on the gardens that provide for the patients
in that case as well as for the Wo/men's Alliance for
Medical Marijuana (WAMM). Federal prosecutors have since
issued a request for the US Supreme Court to hear the case.
In the previous medical marijuana case, McCaffrey v. Oakland
Cannabis Buyers Coop, the Supreme Court withheld judgement
on as to Constitutionality of the Controlled Substances Act
as being an overreach of the Interstate Commerce Clause of
These circumstances weigh favorably for patients,
caregivers and collectives that operate within the state.
The extent to which it might support dispensaries is not
clear in that there have been no cases in which a State has
protected a class of cannabis sales activities. SB 420 is
the first law since passage of the Controlled Substances Act
that authorizes sales of cannabis within a state.
SB 420 Update: Sponsors won't
budge on plant counts
When Senator Vasconcellos and Assemblyman Leno introduced
SB 420, it was meant to make life easier by issuing patients
voluntary, state approved ID cards to protect them from
arrest over gardens and supplies of cannabis. Then a citizen
taskforce was created to review the data and found that the
federal IND program, which provides participating patients
on average more than 6 pounds per year, is the only
scientific study of daily medical marijuana dosages. At the
last minute, to placate since-recalled Governor Davis, they
inserted an unscientific floor of 6 mature plants plus 8
ounces of processed cannabis bud or conversion -- less than
1/12th as much as the federal government provides IND
patients. We fought hard against these numbers but, in the
end, the facts lost out to politics.
Although local guidelines greater than the defaults were
specifically protected in HS
11362.77, anti-patient forces mobilized throughout the
state to undermine them. Vasconcellos' office has asked SAN
to document any rollbacks that occur around the state to
show what is happening and encourage him to fix the numbers.
We need all SAN reps to help by sending any information on
this to Chris
Conrad so we can guide this process. In the meantime,
their office has offered to send letters of support for
local efforts to win better guidelines.
The voluntary ID card system is taking shape and we have
been advised that between July and the end of the year, all
counties should be issuing and/or recognizing such cards.
The question patients face is whether the card is right for
them. While information is supposed to be confidential, not
everyone is convinced of its security. Registering as a
cannabis patient affords additional protections, such as
immunity from arrest, but also adds restrictions including
following the amounts stipulated above.
A "420 clean-up" bill is being considered this year that
clearly states that a qualified patient or caregiver "may
possess any amount consistent with the patient's medical
needs." A number of provisions that it had afforded to
patients are being made to apply only to cardholders.
However the authors refuse to consider any substantive
changes to benefit patients, such as incorporating fair and
realistic guidelines or even fixing the phrase "6 mature or
12 immature" to "6 mature AND 12 immature" plants. It
appears that no meaningful reforms will take place this
session. It's not too early to start looking for sponsors
for next year.
One of the highlights of SB 420 is a provision that
protects patients working collectively or cooperatively:
HS 11362.775. Qualified patients, persons
with valid identification cards, and the designated
primary caregivers of qualified patients and persons with
identification cards, who associate within the State of
California in order collectively or cooperatively to
cultivate marijuana for medical purposes, shall not
solely on the basis of that fact be subject to state
criminal sanctions under Section 11357,
Patients throughout the state are looking to collectives
as a way to take care of their needs while complying with
the law. Although this provision applies to qualified
patients and caregivers as well as cardholders, it works
particularly well for people who rely on the SB 420 default
guidelines. The reason is quite clear. While those limits
make it difficult for an individual to provide for a
reasonable dosage, a collective has the advantage of the
economy of scale. Here are a few examples.
HS11362.77 specifies 8 ounces of bud or conversion plus
"6 mature OR 12 immature plants." Does the word "mature"
mean a ripe plant, or one in its early flowering stage?
While SAN would argue that "mature" means "ripe", law
enforcement might interpret it otherwise. Plants, especially
outdoors, almost never all go to flower and ripen at exactly
the same time. So, a cardholder is growing 12 vegetative
plants outdoors and one begins to flower, at that point does
the patient have to destroy the flowering plant, destroy all
their immature plants, wait for the plant to ripen, or what?
The law is clear that you can't have both under the default
provision, and the patient is at risk.
Likewise, a patient growing indoors runs their 12 plants
through six weeks of vegetative growth, selects 6 and
flowers for 10 weeks. Now they have invested four months
into their garden and harvest six plants for one pound of
bud, perfect for a three pounds-per-year dosage. Unless a
policeman comes in, in which case they have too much
processed bud and they are subject to arrest anyway. The
alternative, using a continuous harvest that yields 8 ounces
every two months requires having both veg and flowering
plants going at the same time, which is forbidden.The
patient is constantly at risk with this requirement, has to
go buy seeds, clones or processed marijuana to meet their
shortfall, and might well be better off not having a card
because that gives them more freedom to litigate their
situation under HS 11362.5.
Now let's look at an 8 cardholder collective* that plants
96 starts outdoors in March and thins down to 48 flowering
plants in August that mature and are ready for harvest in
October. If they get four ounces per plant, the nominal
average yield, they now have 24 ounces each: Three times
more than the limit, making them subject to arrest and
prosecution. If they are not arrested and the garden seized,
they each get a pound and a half -- roughly half their
annual need. In a few months they have to go onto the street
to buy the balance of their need, once more putting
themselves at risk. So this system does not work when the
pathents need more than 8 ounces per year, and is likely to
produce more than the limit. Once again, having cards is
working against the patients; while the plant count by
itself would be workable, the limit on processed bud is
* Why eight members? Because 8 x 12 (maximum veg
plants) = 96 -- still below the 100 plant figure that
triggers a federal mandatory minimum sentence for five
years in prison.
Next, let's look at an 8 cardholder collective growing
indoors. Three patients each have 12 vegetative plants, for
a total of 4 mothers and 32 starts at various stages of
growth. Each plant is grown in veg for 10 weeks so they get
a little bigger than usual and there are 3 plants ready to
put into flower at any given time. Five patients each have 6
flowering plants for 30 plants total in staggered growth
cycles that are harvested three per week. Say the yield per
plant is a fairly large 2 ounces, which comes to 6 ounces
per week. Presuming there is never any problems with
insects, mold or other adversity, that yields 170 grams
split between 8 people, or 21.25 grams (3/4 oz) per week
each: 2.43 pounds per year. This is still less than the 3
pounds that SAN considers a reasonable floor, there is
constant risk of garden loss due to theft or pests, and the
chances of its working out are minimal at best.
If you have a suggestion for the ideal number of patients
and configurations to successfully follow a 420 collective
model, please send it to SAN for review and we can let
others know about it.
Local SAN activities: Send in
SAN activists are working on guidelines and collectives
in numerous locations, including the battle for patients'
SAN guidelines for Humboldt County. We are active in the
mountains, the Central Valley, the Coastal communities and
throughout the state.
Our next issue will focus on regional activities of SAN
reps. If you have any information to add to the updates,
send them to Chris Conrad.
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
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. Patients with a
physician's letter stating that this dosage is inadequate
should be allowed up to six pounds processed and 200 square
feet of garden. 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
http://www.safeaccessnow.net/ for more details.
Donate to Safe Access
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.
all our past SAN newsletters: Visit our archives online!