Local Measure Seeks To Lessen Restrictions on MMJ

Local Measure Seeks To Lessen Restrictions on MMJ
Posted by CN Staff on October 29, 2008 at 06:18:41 PT
By Rachel Gross, Contributing Writer
Source: Daily Californian
Berkeley, CA -- Existing restrictions on growing and possessing medical marijuana in Berkeley may be lifted and dispensaries may be able to relocate more easily if Measure JJ passes at the polls next week.If approved by 50 percent of Berkeley voters, the measure would take away limits on the number of plants a medical marijuana patient or dispensary can grow as long as only 10 or fewer are visible. It would also remove restrictions on the amount of marijuana a patient or dispensary could possess, provided it is a "reasonable quantity."
Berkeley City Councilmember Kriss Worthington, who endorses the measure, said that dispensaries would no longer be required to have public hearings to get use permits, making it easier for them to relocate.This is important because two of Berkeley's three dispensaries plan to relocate in the next year, said Amanda Reiman, a UC Berkeley lecturer and the academic coordinator for the School of Social Welfare, who also endorses the measure.Reiman, who has researched medical cannabis for three years, added that removing restrictions would allow for more flexible treatment of patients."In the past, the limits have kind of been pulled out of thin air, mostly due to a lack of research on what medical cannabis patient needs are," she said. "You may have a patient that uses cannabis only a couple times a week, and then you may have a patient that uses it several times a day."Worthington agreed that current limits on medical marijuana do not accurately reflect its use."There's really no need to have a specific limit," he said. "It's really up to the doctor and the patient."Worthington said the measure has a high likelihood of passing and that there are no campaigns opposing it.Charley Pappas, a 61-year-old paraplegic Berkeley resident who uses and produces medical marijuana, said the measure would make patients' access to cannabis more secure."I think it reminds elected officials that the citizens of Berkeley and California in general really support medical cannabis and want it to be available to qualified patients in a responsible, orderly manner," he said.Becky Dekeuster, community liaison for Berkeley Patients Group, a local dispensary, said the measure would not increase marijuana-related crime."Historically, Berkeley has not seen crime around medical cannabis collectives and they have not seen patients abusing the existing standards as they are," she said. "Honestly, I think the potential there has been overblown, perhaps by people who haven't thought it through all the way."The measure would also make medical cannabis-related activity the lowest priority for the Berkeley Police Department.Although the city of Berkeley became a medical marijuana sanctuary earlier this year, cannabis is still illegal under federal law. The local measure would not change federal regulation, said Casey McEnry, a special agent with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in San Francisco, which oversees Berkeley."Any possession, cultivation, or distribution of marijuana, regardless of its purported use or destination, is illegal," McEnry said. "Anyone who distributes or cultivates marijuana is at risk for arrest or prosecution, even if Measure JJ passes."But Reiman said the measure would support patients' ability to decide for themselves what medication to use."It's a matter of a patient having a choice about how they treat their illness," she said. "I think it's really about maintaining that choice."Source: Daily Californian, The (CA Edu)Author: Rachel Gross, Contributing WriterPublished: October 28, 2008Copyright: 2008 The Daily CalifornianContact: dailycal dailycal.orgWebsite: Medical Marijuana Archives 
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on October 30, 2008 at 10:17:24 PT
Measure JJ: A Response To The Planet Voter Guide
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