El Dorado County Group Proposes Community Medical Marijuana Garden
A group of about 20 El Dorado County residents who are eligible to use marijuana for medical purposes under a state law have asked local authorities to work with them to create a community garden to grow and harvest marijuana plants, the Sacramento Bee reports. The group, led by Dr. Philip Denney, has sent a letter to the county Board of Supervisors stating the intention to begin a cooperative garden, which would be the first established in the state under a law (SB 420) that took effect Jan. 1, according to the Bee (Locke, Sacramento Bee, 1/21). The law, signed by former Gov. Gray Davis (D) in October, stipulates that state residents can possess no more than eight ounces of dried marijuana -- or 12 immature or six mature live plants -- to use the drug for medical purposes. It also creates a voluntary photo identification card system for people who legally can use or dispense marijuana under state law. The law directs the Department of Health Services to develop the program and requires county health departments to certify applicants' eligibility for the IDs; it also clarifies who is allowed to use medical marijuana under Proposition 215, the 1996 ballot initiative allowing state physicians to recommend marijuana to sick patients (California Healthline, 10/14/03). Marijuana grown in the community garden would not be harvested for profit and would not be distributed in any way that might be construed as interstate commerce, the letter states. The group hopes to begin planting between May 15 and June 1 and harvest in October. Denney estimates that as many as 600 county residents might be eligible to use medical marijuana under state law.
The Board of Supervisors has not responded to the letter. Board Chair Rusty Dupray said he does not support the plan but has referred the letter to local law enforcement officials. District Attorney Gary Lacy said that he and Sheriff Jeff Neves would meet with the group to work "within the law to come up with a workable solution." Lacy said that he was not sure how federal law enforcement officials would react to the garden but that he would work to ensure that the operation complies with state law. Cultivation and possession of marijuana for any purpose remains a violation of federal law (Sacramento Bee, 1/21).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.