Wed Feb 5, 3:43 PM ET
The San Diego City Council voted 6-3 to direct the city
attorney to draw up ordinances that would allow people with a
prescription for pot to possess up to a pound of the otherwise
So-called caregivers could possess up to 2 pounds.
Federal law, however, does not recognize state laws legalizing
pot for any use, and federal agents have raided so-called
medical marijuana growers clubs across California.
The city's Medical Cannabis Task Force recommended a limit of
3 pounds for patients and 12 pounds for caregivers. The idea
was to give people an idea of how much pot they could grow or
possess without fear of arrest by San Diego police.
The council rejected a proposal to allow marijuana to be grown
outdoors, and capped the number of plants allowed indoors at
24 for individuals and 48 for caregivers.
Marijuana is illegally sold for nearly $500 per ounce, making
a pound worth several thousand dollars on the street, police
The compromise resolution that was approved directed the city
attorney to prepare the ordinances necessary to give the
guidelines the force of law for for two years. Voting "no"
were Mayor Dick Murphy, and councilmen Brian Maienschein and
Some people have complained that the movement to allow for the
use of medical marijuana is just a step toward legalizing the
But Councilman Ralph Inzunza said: "These guidelines do not
legitimize or legalize marijuana in any way."
Madaffer and Maienschein said one important reason that they
could not support the guidelines was that federal law makes no
exception for medicinal use.
Dozens of people testified on both sides of the issue, with
those in favor saying the guidelines were necessary to help
sick people, and those against saying the action would send
the wrong message to children.
Proposition 215, the 1996 voter-approved state ballot measure
allowing for the medicinal use of cannabis, contained no
guidelines for growing or possessing the stuff.
Identification cards would be issued to people whose status as
a patient or caregiver has been verified.
A caregiver is defined as the person a patient designates as
responsible for his or her housing, health or safety.
People with felony convictions for selling illegal drugs will
not be considered.
Individuals must have a San Diego-based doctor recommend pot
for medical use.
"The guideline goals are to provide a safe harbor for patients
and doctors to assist police in identifying legitimate medical
cannabis users while enforcing the law against criminals,"
said task force Chairwoman Juliana Humphrey.
San Diego Police Chief Dave Bejarano said "the use of
marijuana by legitimate patients has not been an issue" for
Police opposed the city codifying any amount for medical
Those in support of the guidelines talked about compassion for
people with serious illnesses.
"This isn't an issue about making marijuana accessible to
children, this is about making medical marijuana accessible to
sick people who need it," said Marion Otto.
Ann Shanahan-Walsh, a task force member diagnosed with breast
cancer (news - web sites) in 1999, said her first chemotherapy
treatment left her "violently ill," but that the marijuana
sugar cookies she got through a friend in San Francisco made
the "terrible after-effects" tolerable.
She said nurses asked her where other patients could get pot.
"It seemed so terribly unfair that something so simple could
be withheld from people who were in such desperate need," she
People against decriminalizing pot said current San Diego
police policy -- evaluating medical marijuana claims on a
case-by-case basis -- were sufficient.
"I am deathly afraid that these guidelines are going to be
very harmful to kids in our community," said Judge James
Milliken, presiding judge of the Juvenile Court. "The
guidelines are extremely liable to abuse."