Board Lowers Legal Levels of Pot

January 27, 2004

Catherine Saillant, Los Angeles Times

Ventura County users of medicinal marijuana can cultivate six mature plants and keep on hand 8 ounces of dried weed — half the previous amount — the Board of Supervisors decided Tuesday.

The 4-1 vote ends for now board debate on how much marijuana county law enforcement should allow if it is being used on a doctor's advice. The new standards follow state guidelines passed by the Legislature last fall.

Supervisor John Flynn was the sole opposing vote, arguing that the county board should consider adopting higher possession amounts than the minimums set by state law.

Flynn, backed by two advocates who spoke to the supervisors, said the six-plant minimum may be too low.

'The pain they suffer, the problems they suffer are immense,' Flynn said. 'This is a medical issue; it's not a law enforcement issue.'

But the other supervisors agreed that, while not perfect, the state guidelines had struck a good balance.

The state legislation was adopted with the backing of law enforcement, medicinal marijuana advocates and the medical community, Supervisor Judy Mikels said.

'If needs weren't being met, we would have had more people here today,' Mikels said. 'And, certainly, we would have had the medical professionals here telling us if it is not enough.'

Sheriff Bob Brooks said his department is not bound by the new guidelines because they conflict with federal law, which outlaws all marijuana use. But he said he would abide by them, on a case-by-case basis.

'If you have a situation where you think this is being used as a ruse to grow marijuana, we would still make an arrest,' he said.

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