Red Bluff Council adopts medicinal cannabis policy

February 02, 2005

Cheryl Brinkley, Daily News - Tehama County

RED BLUFF -- City Council members voted unanimously Tuesday to accept the state law for medical marijuana use and suggested police investigation guidelines, with one exception.

California state law says a qualified patient may possess not more than eight ounces of processed marijuana, six mature plants and 12 immature plants, or as prescribed by a licensed physician. Red Bluff Police changed the word prescribed to recommended.

Dr. Phillip Denney of Redding informed council members that cannabis is the proper term, not marijuana.

He also said having guidelines intrudes on the patient/physician relationship. The item was discussed for more than an hour at the council.

'Use of cannabis varies quite widely from a small amount occasionally to a larger amount daily depending on whether the cannabis is of low or high quality,' Denney said. 'Use varies depending on a patients' need. There are multiple factors.'

In addition, another member of the public, Jason Browne, spoke and recommended that the council adopt the medical marijuana policy that Sheriff Clay Parker has had in place for about five years. Parker's policy for possession of processed marijuana was previously 48 ounces or three pounds.

'This amount was determined after consulting with persons who smoke marijuana and after meeting with numerous medical marijuana users who either eat or convert their marijuana into a tea or tincture,' Parker said in a written statement to Mayor Larry Stevens.

Parker continued in his statement that in 2003, the state legislature added to the Health and Safety Code setting minimum amounts of marijuana that can be possessed, but allowed for jurisdictions to allow larger amounts that can be in possession and a physician can recommend larger amounts for their patients.

Parker then amended his policy to 24 ounces rather than adopt the state's minimum allowable amount.

Council member Wayne Brown asked about alternative treatments. Denney said many patients do use other drugs for treatment, but the use of cannabis cuts the need for prescription drugs in half.

'This is a safe and appropriate alternative to opiate drugs for long-term treatments,' Denney said. 'Patients find the dose that is right for them.

'Make a guideline that meets the need of most people,' Denney continued. 'The guideline gives Chief Al Shamblin an opportunity to investigate cases of concern. It comes down to the judgment of the officer.'

Denney voiced his concern that the guideline process might be used as discrimination.

Brown asked about the number of physicians who prescribed medical marijuana. Denney said there are 3,000 in the country and only 12 in California.

The guideline adopted by Red Bluff is intended to foster a positive relationship and provide for mutual cooperation for those persons who comply with Section 11362.5 of the Health and Safety Code. It is anticipated that those persons complying with the code will voluntarily identify themselves to the Tehama County Department of Health so a voluntary monitoring program can be implemented.

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