Medical marijuana rules changed

May 12, 2005

Joshua Coman , Sonoma Index-Tribune

The rule on the number of medical marijuana plants that may be grown by a patient with a prescription for marijuana in Sonoma County has changed. Effective July 1, patients or their caregivers will be allowed to possess three pounds of marijuana and 25 plants. The plants cannot exceed a canopy size of 100 square feet. Under the old rule, up to 99 plants were permitted.

The reduction in the allowed amount of the substance was announced Wednesday by the Sonoma County Law Enforcement Chief's Association and was consented to by the Sonoma County Medical Marijuana Alliance.

'We reached the decision to have guidelines that are more consistent with the state guidelines, (while) taking into consideration the patients' needs and increased public safety concerns,' said Sonoma County Sheriff Bill Cogbill.

Last year, the California State Legislature passed a similar law in an attempt to establish uniform rules regarding medical marijuana throughout the state.

The legislation allows a qualified patient or a primary caregiver to possess 'no more than six mature plants or 12 immature plants.'

The bill was sponsored by Sen. John Vasconcellos, who was a proponent of Proposition 215, also known as the 'Compassionate Use Act of 1996.'

'Medical marijuana is a public-health issue, and these modified guidelines will continue to ensure that patients receive the proper level of medical marijuana for their needs,' said Sonoma County District Attorney Steven Passalacqua.

Although supported by one county medical marijuana advocacy group, Sonoma resident and medical marijuana advocate David R. Ford has criticized the new rule.

'I am very concerned about this,' Ford said. 'I think it is totally ridiculous that they cut the number of plants down like that.

'By cutting the number of plants, people are going to have to go out and buy,' Ford said. 'And that increases the chance that they are going to be ripped off.'



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