Judge issues advice with sentences in medical marijuana cases

May 30, 2006

Rebecca Wolf, Red Bluff Daily News

Superior court judge Dennis Murray attempted to clarify the medical marijuana laws that he called ambiguous in two separate cases Tuesday.

Murray attempted to make the law easier for the men assigning specific amounts of how much marijuana they can possess at one time.

Alvin Glen Goodwin, 52, was sentenced to three years probation and 90 days in jail after he pleaded guilty to cultivating marijuana. Goodwin was limited to 3 1/4 pounds of mature cannabis.

Goodwin said he uses the drug for back pain after a surgery in the late 1990s. He had a recommendation from a doctor that specified 3.5 pounds of mature marijuana a year. However, Goodwin was found in possession of much more than that.

His attorney Thomas Hilligan said Goodwin was growing the plant for himself and others with medical marijuana recommendations who "lacked a green thumb with regards to marijuana."

In a statement to the court, Goodwin said he has been growing the plant for five years and has always worked with the Tehama County Sheriff's Department to grow the drug legally. He said this year he had a bumper crop and as in the past, and planned to burn the excess. He said he was arrested 10 days before burning was allowed in the county.

When Murray limited Goodwin's amount, Goodwin questioned how he would grow enough for his needs.

"I understand your dilemma," Murray told him. "I don't have a solution for your dilemma that I'm ready to give you. ... You put yourself in this position by growing it illegally."

Murray added that there is a difference between possessing marijuana for personal medical use and abusing the law and possessing the drug for sale to others.

"The law allows for one, but the law does not allow for the other," Murray said. "There may be some ambiguity, but there is no ambiguity in you can't grow it for someone else."

In another case, Raymond Richard Dewar, 64, was sentenced to five years probation and 120 days in county jail after he pleaded guilty to cultivating marijuana. Murray limited Dewar to one ounce of marijuana or three plants at one time.

Dewar suffered a head injury in a motorcycle accident in 1983, his attorney Eric Berg told the court Tuesday. Since that time, Dewar has had three prior convictions in cases related to drugs use, which Murray said made the medical marijuana recommendation a "particular problem for this defendant."

Dewar's doctor recommendation did not specify a certain amount of marijuana.

"Recommendations don't say how much a person should have," Murray said. He compared the use of marijuana to Vicodin and said if someone had a prescription for 90 Vicodin pills but had 500 pills, there would be a clear violation.

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Assistant News Editor Rebecca Wolf can be reached at 527-2153, extension 110. or at clerk@redbluffdailynews.com



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