Reese seeks liberal pot law

April 19, 2002 12:00 am
A medical marijuana patient smokes some marijuana at his Crescent City home. Supervisor Jack Reese is proposing new, higher limits on the amount of marijuana patients can possess as well as the number of plants they can grow. (Stephen M. Corley/ The Daily Triplicate).
A medical marijuana patient smokes some marijuana at his Crescent City home. Supervisor Jack Reese is proposing new, higher limits on the amount of marijuana patients can possess as well as the number of plants they can grow. (Stephen M. Corley/ The Daily Triplicate).

By Jennifer Grimes

Triplicate staff writer

If Jack Reese has his way, Del Norte County's medical marijuana policy will become radically different next week. And he already has the support of local law enforcement.

Reese is proposing that instead of allowing only six plants and one ounce of processed marijuana, the new policy would allow 99 plants and one pound of the processed medicine for those prescribed the drug by a physician.

"It's a combination of the better parts of what some of the other counties have done," Reese said.

Reese, a Del Norte County supervisor, made it his mission to make some changes in the policy that many say was ineffective and unfair.

He will ask the other four member of the county board on Tuesday to accept the new policy by supporting it with a resolution.

"The medical marijuana community was saying to me, ‘we can't get it legally and when we try to grow it, the cops come and take our plants," Reese said.

It took one year of research and collaboration with Del Norte's district attorney, county counsel, sheriff, director of Mental Health, director of Health and Social Services and Crescent City's police chief to come up with the new, more lenient rules, according to Reese.

The old policy was set within the last couple of years by District Attorney Bob Drossel.

That very basic set of regulations for marijuana prescription holders was drawn up by Drossel's office to deal with Proposition 215, passed by voters in 1996.

Each county in California had to make their own policy on the new law, because the state attorney general refused to.

Federal law still considers marijuana, medical or otherwise, illegal.

The fact that the law and policy differs between the state and the nation and between the separate counties in California, makes it difficult for attorneys and judges to try medical marijuana cases.

"In Del Norte County, there have been some examples of jury acquittals and even a lawsuit brought against the county based on the Proposition 215 defense," Reese said in a report to the rest of the Board of Supervisors.

Reese said getting collaboration between all the relevant county and city departments on the policy will make enforcing it easier.

"I'm not completely satisfied with the new policy, but I'm happy that we worked together and that it's better than it was," Reese said.

A city ordinance on using marijuana in public is also in the works in police chief Bob West's office, according to Reese .

"We don't really want people to light up a joint on the street corner," said Reese.

He was careful to note that the new policy is just a draft. He is simply proposing that the board pass a resolution to formally support the policy.

Though the new policy is more lenient on the number of plants allowed, the rules will continue to demand users have a valid prescription and a medical-marijuana identification card.

Primary caregivers of those using the drug also will be required to register with the county Department of Social Services.

Reese said in six months, the original group of policymakers will meet again to work out any kinks in enforcing the new rules.