Medical Marijuana Changes to be Challenged at Oakland City Council

Oakland – Medical marijuana activists are asking Oakland City Council to reconsider new regulations that would limit access to medical marijuana. The second reading of the new restrictions is scheduled for Tuesday night’s council meeting, following a rally and press conference held by activists on the steps of City Hall.
At issue is a proposal to rollback the number of medical marijuana dispensaries the city allows to operate, as well as cut by 75% the number of plants dispensaries, and possibly patients, would be allowed to maintain.
The new rules, scheduled to go into effect June 1st, would also prohibit patients from consuming their medication at the dispensaries.
“The council needs to stop and take the time to do this right,” said Steph Sherer, executive director for the national medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access. “The Medical Marijuana Working Group is there to consider these issues, and they have not been properly consulted.”
The new restrictions, pushed by Oakland Council President Ignacio de la Fuente, would limit the number of medical marijuana dispensaries to only four. The number of plants per patient the dispensaries could maintain would be lowered from the current limit of 72 to only 18. Whether the proposed plant limit would also apply to individual patients is unclear.
Questions also remain as to the legality of some of the changes. Legal experts have suggested that the proposal would bring Oakland City Council into conflict with the new California state law on medical marijuana, SB420, which sets statewide minimum standards and recognizes patient cooperatives for cultivation and distribution that the Oakland proposal restricts.
The number of marijuana seeds to be planted in the City Hall protest symbolizes the number of medical marijuana plants activists say could be eliminated by the proposal the City Council is considering.
WHAT:       Press Conference and Rally in protest of Oakland’s proposed restrictions on medical marijuana.
WHEN:       5:00pm, Tuesday, February 17, 2004.
WHERE:       Oakland City Hall, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza, Oakland, California.
WHO:       Angel McClary Raich, medical marijuana patient and activist; Joe DeVries, representing Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley; Steph Sherer, executive director for Americans for Safe Access; Claire Lewis, representing the association of Oakland dispensaries; and others.
A national coalition of 5,500 patients, doctors and advocates, Americans for Safe Access is the largest organ-ization working solely on medical marijuana.  For interviews or more information, contact ASA’s communi-cations director, William Dolphin, at (510) 919-1498 or [email protected].
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