Medical marijuana decision may not affect Tehama county

June 09, 2005

Cheryl Brinkley, Tehama County Daily News

A decision by the U.S. Supreme Court regarding medical marijuana may not have any effect on Tehama County.

The decision that federal agents can prosecute citizens for possession of marijuana, even with a doctor's prescription, was passed with a 6-3 vote Monday.

Tehama County Sheriff Clay Parker said Wednesday that the state attorney general said the decision probably will not affect California.

'My relationship with medical marijuana users in our county is not going to change,' Parker said. 'They are using it for pain and suffering.

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'I don't see any harsh changes right away,' said Red Bluff Police Chief Al Shamblin on Wednesday. 'We'll wait to see what the attorney general says.'

Corning's Police Chief Tony Cardenas is taking a 'wait-and-see' attitude as to whether there will be any effect.

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.' Corning also follows the state guidelines. Parker's policy for possession of processed marijuana is 48 ounces or three pounds.

'Monday's ruling does not overturn California law permitting the use of medical marijuana, but it does uphold a federal regulatory scheme that contradicts the will of California voters and limits the right of states to provide appropriate medical care for its citizens,' said California Attorney General Bill Lockyer in a statement Thursday.

'If Congress can regulate this under the Commerce Clause, then it can regulate anything,' U.S. Justice Clarence Thomas said in Monday's decision.

Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justice Sandra Day O'Connor said Monday that the court decision 'wrongly extinguishes state trials for medical marijuana.'

'I'm disappointed the Supreme Court did not uphold states' rights,' said Philip A. Denney, M.D., and medical cannabis evaluator in Redding.

'They were asked to rule on a very narrow question, Does the federal government have the right to come into California and enforce federal drug laws?' The answer is yes. They have always had that right,' Denney said. 'But this does not change California law.'

Lockyer said that legitimate medical marijuana patients in California must know that state and federal laws are no different today than they were yesterday.

Denney added that this is the first time the court said cannabis does have legitimate medicinal purposes. 'I think that is huge,' Denney said.

Lockyer added that this conflict between state and federal law means that seriously ill Californians will continue to run the risk of arrest and prosecution under federal law when they grow or use marijuana as medicine.

Tehama County District Attorney Gregg Cohen was not available Thursday for comment.



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