California, Plumas

Medical marijuana by county.

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California, Plumas

Postby budman » Wed Aug 23, 2006 9:17 am

The Plumas County News wrote:
Federal prosecution considered for pair charged with marijuana cultivation

By Victoria Metcalf
Staff Writer 8-23-06
The Plumas County News

Two Plumas County residents have been released on $50,000 bail each after they were arrested and charged Aug. 14 with unauthorized cultivation, harvesting or processing of marijuana.

Plumas County Sheriff's officers, SWAT team members, the district attorney's investigations unit and the FBI were involved in the morning raid of a house and 7 acres located on Rush Creek Road in the Feather River Canyon.

Alice Jean Wiegand, 28, and Jeffrey Sean Sanderson, 25, were arrested as officers confiscated an estimated 250 marijuana plants. Weighing an estimated one ton, the plants were located outdoors in separate patches and in the basement of the house allegedly owned by Wiegand, according to Sheriff's Commander Rod DeCrona.

During the Aug. 14 raid, officers allegedly discovered not only marijuana plants, but also processed marijuana, reefers in ashtrays and evidence that marijuana was being smoked within the home.

A bong, made from a 3-gallon water bottle and allegedly used for smoking marijuana, was also discovered. In addition, other paraphernalia was found, according to DeCrona.

Allegedly, both Wiegand and Sanderson are medical marijuana cardholders.

It is unknown whether the couple had set up as a collective or cooperative to grow and process marijuana for medical marijuana users. Working as a collective or cooperative venture expands the scope of what is permissible in growing medical marijuana under SB420.

Under Proposition 215, the regulations concerning cultivation are fairly specific. When SB 420 was passed in 2003, the law was relaxed.

Whether a potential case of cultivation and use of medical marijuana will be tried in Plumas County or turned over for possible prosecution in federal court is still under consideration by the Sheriff's Office and District Attorney Jeff Cunan.

At stake is the vast difference in state and federal laws.

For more on this story, along with other local stories and features, please see this week's printed newspaper. To subscribe, use the form on this Web site or call 530-283-0800

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Marijuana praised for medical uses, but its usefulness goes

Postby palmspringsbum » Tue Sep 26, 2006 5:40 pm

The Plumas County News wrote:Marijuana praised for medical uses, but its usefulness goes far beyond

By Victoria Metcalf
Staff Writer 9-27-06
The Plumas County News
<i>If the United States and other nations legalized cannabis in all its forms-medicinal, recreational, agricultural, sartorial and nutritional-it would save the planet.</i>

Sitting quietly at a wooden table, a Plumas County resident known simply as Skeeter, shared his beliefs, the research he's followed, and his knowledge of the plant. (At this point, Skeeter is more than willing to share his views and research about cannabis, but he asked to remain anonymous.)

Cannabis seeds are the most nutritious food source on earth. They contain every nutrient essential to survival, Skeeter said, shaping his fingers as if he indeed held one small round seed. "You can survive on a single hemp (another name for cannabis) seed a day," he said.

"Hemp is grown for a fiber from its bark," Skeeter added. In some places, growing hemp is legal for making rope and clothing, which are just a few of its practical uses. More uses are being discovered or created all of the time.

Indeed, the condemned "marijuana plant can provide sufficient clothing, oil, medicine, fuel, food and shelter for all the peoples of the world, if completely legalized and commercialized; and that hemp will prove to be the means of saving the planet (us) from acid rain, global warming and the depletion of our precious forests and fossil fuels," said George Clayton Johnson.

Johnson is the author of eight "Twilight Zone" episodes, the movie "Twilight Zone," the book and movie "Logan's Run," "Star Trek," "Ocean's Eleven," "Kung Fu" and others,

Johnson wrote a preface to Jack Herer's "The Emperor Wears No Clothes," hailed in some quarters as "the authoritative historical record of cannabis and the conspiracy against marijuana."

Herer has been one of the leading figures in the fight to legalize marijuana in the United States. One of his missions is to shed light on what he understands are the many benefits that the world can realize from it.

Rubbing the book's cover with his fingers, Skeeter said that Herer was a "straight military person until he used marijuana for the first time and it opened up his mind."

"The Emperor Wears No Clothes," is in its 11th edition. Skeeter's copy was released in 2000.

Skeeter's bible is a collection of research, history, medical information and much more that Herer has investigated in his decades of commitment to the legalizing and promoting of cannabis.

"I don't know if it will save the world, but it's the only thing that can," Skeeter said solemnly.

<b>Medical marijuana</b>

Experimenting with plants to find medicinal properties is not uncommon.

Digitalis is derived from foxgloves, morphine from poppies, taxol from the yew tree, to cite a few examples.

American Indians knew that if they chewed willow tree bark, it would form salicylic acid or an analgesic (painkiller) or an antipyretic (fever reducer), according to a Web site called "Growing Marijuana Seeds."

Skeeter suffers from asthma. When he was a child, he used inhalers and steroids as prescribed. Despite their use, he was hospitalized several times, sometimes for as long as two weeks when the attacks became severe.

Five years ago, Skeeter said that he began smoking marijuana, seeking relief for his asthma. "I haven't had as much as a cold for five years," he said about its medicinal properties.

"Since my first puff I haven't had to go back to inhalers, which were full of side effects," he said.

"Taking a hit of marijuana has been known to stop a full-blown asthma attack," Skeeter said. He knows this from personal experience, and there are people in the medical profession who support this information.

When asked how someone with lung ailments can smoke marijuana, Skeeter said that it stays in the upper respiratory areas, unlike tobacco smoke, which goes to the lower areas. "That's where you have all your lung problems," he said.

Considering another problem commonly associated with smoking tobacco, Skeeter said that there is "no cancer related to marijuana smoking."

"Cannabis is the best natural expectorant," Skeeter said. When people smoke it, they cough. This process clears or loosens phlegm and other contaminates in the lungs.

Treating asthma is just one of the many uses of marijuana on the medical front. It is also known to work for those suffering from anorexia, nausea, pain, peptic ulcers, alcoholism glaucoma, epilepsy, depression, migraines, anxiety, inflammation, hypertension, insomnia and cancer, according to the Drug Policy Alliance.

And there are studies to back up the benefits some sufferers of these conditions have realized.

In October 1988, The New York State Journal of Medicine discussed a group of people who smoked or inhaled marijuana as an antiemetic (stops vomiting) for cancer chemotherapy.

The 56 patients in the study showed no improvement with standard medications used to reduce or stop vomiting caused from chemotherapy.

When they were given marijuana to inhale, 78 percent of the patients showed relief with no negative side effects.

"I've seen a child as young as 5 smoking marijuana," Skeeter said. The child was seeking relief from the effects of receiving chemotherapy and radiation in cancer treatment. "It uplifts the spirit and gives you a will to live."

Numerous studies have found that when patients suffering from depressed appetites experienced with AIDS and anorexia and similar illnesses use marijuana it stimulates the appetite.

"There are more than 60 therapeutic compounds in cannabis that are healing agents in medical and herbal treatments," Skeeter said. "The primary one is THC (tetrahyrdrocannabinol)."

The amount of THC is directly related to marijuana's potency or concentration.

Six years ago, an estimated 2.5 million people in the United States had glaucoma, a condition of the eye where increased pressure leads to loss of vision and blindness, Skeeter said he's learned from his studies. Smoking cannabis could benefit as much as 90 percent of the sufferers. " two to three times as effective as any current medicines for reducing ocular pressure," he said.

Cannabis "is proven to reduce the size of tumors," Skeeter said.

In 1974, government research on THC found that it reduced lung, breast and brain tumors. The Medical College of Virginia's research found amazing results when treating tumors with cannabis. When its information was turned over to the government, however, it was suppressed.

In more recent years, the program has applied for medical research grants concerning the effects of cannabis and has been denied, according to Herer.

Marijuana is also known to benefit those who suffer from sleep disorders, stress and migraine. "It can safely curtail or replace Valium, Librium, alcohol or even Prozac for millions of Americans," Skeeter explained.

When smoked, cannabis produces a calm, mildly euphoric state. "Sensitivity to sights, sounds and touch is enhanced," Skeeter said.

In these situations, cannabis opens arteries. In the case of headaches and migraines, artery spasms combined with over-relaxation of veins, cannabis use causes the covering of the brain or the meninges and the problems disappear, Skeeter said that he's learned.

According to High Times magazine, an extract of the cannabis plant called Cannador has proven effective in treating pain associated with surgery.

In that article, Dr. Anita Holdcroft of the Imperial College London and lead researcher with cannabis said, "Pain after surgery continues to be a problem because many of the commonly used drugs are either ineffective or have too many side effects. These results show that cannabinoids (chemical constituents of cannabis) are effective and may lead to the development of a wider range of drugs to manage postoperative pain."

In the United States, one of the common drugs used to relieve postoperative pain is morphine. While effective, it is an addictive drug, and when used over a period of time, patients must be weaned off from it.

Skeeter and other resources agreed that cannabis is not addictive.

Skeeter said that he's learned that medical patients who use cannabis the heaviest have the highest survival rate and experience the most benefits.

While smoking cannabis is one way to benefit from the drug, it can also be vaporized, made into tinctures, used as a butter, an oil for preparing foods or another oil for massage, and its leaves and roots can be used to make beneficial poultices and lineaments.

These are only a few of the positive uses of cannabis; there are many more.

When Skeeter was younger, he spent three years living and working on a medical marijuana farm in California.

Skeeter said the farm, at that time, had about 100 plants that were raised both indoors and outdoors.

At this farm, the "sea of green" method was used, in which the farmers were interested in using the tops or the buds of the plants. None of the leaves went to the patients.

It's the bud that is the most potent part of the plant. It contains the highest level of THC.

It's the female plant that produces the bud, and many growers are interested in producing a bud without seeds. This product is known as sinsemilla, the Spanish word that means without seeds.

Skeeter also doesn't like to use non-organic medicines.

"Medicine, in my eyes, must be organic," Skeeter said. "Commercially grown pot is with chemicals."

Marijuana for medical use in California, to remain within the legal guidelines for cultivation, must be grown "on your own land," Skeeter said.

Pointing to a recent cultivation raid in Caribou Canyon, Skeeter said that he didn't approve of that kind of growing. "Public lands are public for the public use, not for growing marijuana," he said.

Skeeter said that he's "run across bad grows in Plumas County," while out hiking. He said that once he nearly walked into the wire that the growers had strung around their plantation. They were also on site guarding their crop with weapons. Skeeter also doesn't approve of those tactics.

Skeeter is a legal medical-marijuana cardholder under the regulations of Proposition 215 that was passed by voters in 1996.

Currently, there is no known physician in Plumas County who will recommend the use of marijuana for relief, according to Skeeter and Plumas County Health Services.

A physician who, until about a year ago, would recommend the use of marijuana to some patients, has retired or moved the practice out of Plumas County.

Under Proposition 215 and its partner bill SB420, California counties are to issues cards to those who have physician recommendations to use marijuana.

According to Jocelyn Cote, lead nurse at the county health department, the agency is close to being ready to issue cards. She sees this happening within the next year.


Skeeter also doesn't like supporting pharmaceutical companies, another major reason for turning to the medicinal benefits of marijuana.

With at least three or four kinds of commercially produced medicine for every ailment, the pharmaceutical companies make billions of dollars annually from sales.

Professing to having a legal form of cannabis to relieve medical problems, Eli Lily manufactured Nabilone and Marinol, synthetic forms similar to THC, the active chemical found in hemp plant resin that is the chief intoxicant in marijuana.

Neither of the laboratory-produced forms of THC were as satisfactory to the users as real marijuana, according to a report in Omni magazine in 1982.

One of the major problems with using the synthetics, according to the report, was that users agreed they had to get three or four times as high compared to marijuana use, to experience any relief.

Skeeter said that those results still held true in 1999.

Skeeter agreed with Herer's opinion that Eli Lily had wasted nine years of research and millions of dollars in producing a synthetic that apparently doesn't work.

While Skeeter believes that pharmaceuticals in the United States aren't what they seem to be, he's very concerned about what the U.S. government allows the companies to sell to Third World countries that it won't allow here.

"The World Health Organization's conservative estimate: some 500,000 people are poisoned each year in Third World countries by drugs, pesticides, etc. that are sold to them by American companies, but which are banned from sale in the U.S.," said Herer. Skeeter agrees with him.

Skeeter believes that if marijuana were legalized in the United States and that legitimate research were allowed to continue on its benefits, the pharmaceutical companies would lose at least a third of their profits.

Such drugs as Darvon, Tuinal, Seconal, Prozac and many others, including muscle ointments and related products, would be displaced in the marketplace by cannabis medications and products, Skeeter said.

When he's looked into who the biggest anti-cannabis supporters are, pharmaceutical companies, the tobacco industry and the alcoholic beverage group are the ones who spend the most money, says Skeeter.

To Skeeter and others who believe in the use of marijuana for medical purposes, this lobbying is just another reason to steer clear of the big pharmaceutical companies.

Skeeter is also convinced that it's the pharmaceutical companies that are keeping a lid on research involving the benefits of marijuana and, where possible, its legalization.

"Remember in 1976, the last year of the Ford Administration, these drug companies, through their own persistence (specifically by intense lobbying), got the federal government to cease all positive research into medical marijuana," according to Herer.

Skeeter and others also blame the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency for the suppression of positive research that has gone into marijuana testing in the past. Skeeter said that if some firm wants to produce a negative report about marijuana, there is backing available, and those results will be made available to the public.

There is no financial backing from the government for anyone who wants to do what Skeeter refers to as legitimate marijuana testing. If the testing is done through a private source, he said that the DEA and other federal organizations suppress the information.

"Some 10,000 studies have been done on cannabis, 4,000 in the U.S., and only about a dozen have shown any negative results, and these have never been replicated," Skeeter said that he's learned.

"The Reagan/Bush administration put a soft 'feeler' out in September of 1983 for all American universities and researchers to destroy all the 1966-76 cannabis research work, including compendiums in libraries," he said.

When some scientists and physicians learned of the plot, Skeeter said, they ridiculed the censorship, and the plans were dropped.

Other items have been suppressed. One study that has disappeared is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's own "Hemp for Victory" film. That film was pro-hemp manufacturing, urging American farmers to grow hemp for the war effort during World War II. (Learn more about hemp in another segment of this series.)

This is the second in a series on marijuana and its impact on people in Plumas County. In other parts of the series, hemp production, the anti-marijuana side, marijuana cultivation and other related topics will be examined.

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An interview with the sheriff

Postby palmspringsbum » Wed Oct 11, 2006 1:29 pm

The Plumas County News wrote:An interview with the sheriff

The Plumas County News
Publisher Mike Taborski invited Sheriff Terry Bergstrand to Feather Publishing for an interview immediately after the High Sierra Music Festival community meeting sponsored by Supervisors Rose Comstock and Bill Powers.

A bad back kept Bergstrand from making that interview. However, during a rather spontaneous meeting Thursday morning, Sept. 28, Taborski, Bergstrand, and Sgt. Michael Beatley sat down to chat.

Beatley attended in his role as future undersheriff. He will begin this position when Undersheriff Tom Mareina retires. The meeting took place at the Feather Publishing conference room; reporter Lyn Walters took notes.

Mike Taborski: Let's take this opportunity to talk about the department, just a conversation about how things are with the troops. Are you still having trouble with your recruiting?

Sheriff Terry Bergstrand: Two sergeants are leaving. They go to another county and their wages both double. They're going to commute; it's that worth-it for them.

Taborski: That's not unique. Everyone who runs a business here faces that. Many people who work for me, if they moved down to the valley, could make a lot more money. Are there any other factors that affect recruiting?

Bergstrand: Another aspect of this is the deputies' spouses. They don't adjust. They find it hard to drive so far to get milk, see a movie, or go shopping. We do try to keep the guys. We give them the latest equipment. If we hear of something new that will keep them safe, we jump on it. This leads us into the Durango issue.

The real issue was that we needed to replace a broke-down first-responder car. We assign specific cars to specific individuals. Without a replacement for the current car, that first responder won't be able to respond.

Taborski: Those facts were not visible at the board meeting. Did Tom not have the right information?

Bergstrand: You know, Tom's the type of guy, he gets excited, he loves a good deal.

Sgt. Michael Beatley: He was given the assignment of buying the five cars under this year's budget. When he realized that the bids were $22,000 under what he had projected, he saw the opportunity to replace the broken-down vehicle.

Bergstrand: These facts just didn't get communicated.

Taborski: The perception seemed to be that this vehicle would be a nice-to-have but not a need-to-have.

Bergstrand: I know we need to change the perception. Some people think I'm weak because I do not respond aggressively to these kinds of issues. I don't have a loud, big-city manner.

Taborski: Granted, but don't you think you need to take a more active role in the budget process?

Bergstrand: That's becoming very obvious (chuckles).

Taborski: Terry, what are you most proud of at this point in your department?

Bergstrand: The people, that's what makes it for me, the good folks who work at the jail, the commanders, the people that patrol, they give of themselves every day caring about people in this community. They even go beyond the call of duty taking care of violent felons in the jail.

<span class=postbold>Marijuana busts</span>

Taborski: Let's talk about the recent large-scale marijuana raids. How would you rate your department's performance?

Bergstrand: I clearly understand people's frustration and disgust with the burning of marijuana in East Quincy. But we were in an unusual and hazardous situation. The proper way to dispose of marijuana that's been found on Forest Service land is to bury it. I'm working with (Plumas National Forest Supervisor) Jim Pea on a protocol for that.

You've got to understand, we were in a brand-new situation. We had $90 million worth of marijuana crop. That large a volume was new for us. We had a fire hazard storing the plants.

We decided we had to burn it because we were afraid it was going to burn down the Old Armory building where it was stored. When we lit up the pile, there was a brisk, 15-mph wind, but wouldn't you know it, as soon as the fire got going, an inversion occurred and held all the smoke over the town.

But really, this is a county problem. It's a Forest Service problem if it's on Forest Service land and it's a county problem if it's on county land. The CAO (county administrative officer), the county and the forest managers all need to be involved.

Taborski: The bust was impressive, but why didn't the department delay the raid until you could nab the growers?

Bergstrand: We believe they were Mexican nationals. When they're gone, they're gone. Something spooked them. They were sighted by a PG&E quad-runner and a helicopter, and that spooked them. We knew they had guns because they left 9-mm ammunition behind.

Taborski: They were able to just leave?

Bergstrand: Your Mexican national grower will choose fight or flight. We will sit on a lot of other sites if we think we can get the growers. The Mexicans haven't lost much money, since they don't get the profit until later. They lost the cost to plant and maintain the marijuana.

Taborski: Are there any vast marijuana fields still out there?

Bergstrand: Yes. There's nowhere where you get it all. However, this bust has opened up the scope of where we have to look. We found this site on the east side of the slope, not the usual west- and south-facing slopes. Is there another big crop out there? I just can't guess.

<span class=postbold>Medical marijuana</span>

Taborski: I hear reports of marijuana being confiscated even when a person has a medical-use marijuana card. That seems like a violation of civil rights.

Bergstrand: We still have reasons to confiscate even when someone has a card. People have to need it rather than be using it for recreation. It depends on how much, where and who is giving it out. For instance, a caregiver may be allowed to give it to a sick patient.

I'm working with the district attorney on this issue. We do leave some legal gardens out there. We uphold the law. I don't want to wear a helmet when I ride my motorcycle, but I do since it's the law.

<span class=postbold>High Sierra Music Festival</span>

Taborski: What have you learned from all the complaint letters that circulated after the music festival?

Bergstrand: I myself was offended by the SWAT van (at the entrance to the fairgrounds). I don't think there was a bad intention, but it should have been removed. It will be taken care of.

As for the number of cops "hanging around" the front entrance, that was because it was our command post. I am going to change that, and we're going to relocate the command post to the Sheriff's Office, but I'm not going to tell my people that they can't meet and exchange information.

As for the people offended by the dark uniforms, we are not going to change that. There are many studies that show that relaxed attire elevates violence by several hundred percent. Deputies in relaxed attire seem easier to fight with.

Beatley: I don't know any other county in California that doesn't wear dark blue.

Bergstrand: Dark uniforms are hot, show more dirt and are not my preference. It's a money issue. When we changed from tan to blue, I personally replaced 18 uniform sets with only three sets. And the new officers like the dark uniforms. They feel safer and believe the uniforms give them more stealth. And why would anyone be offended by a uniform anyway?

Taborski: There seem to be two viewpoints about the festival. One is that the festival brings culture and much-needed income to the area. And then there are those who do not believe we should welcome "festival-type" people in our town. How do you feel about the festival?

Bergstrand: I have no problem whatsoever about the festival. I'm kind of a music guy myself. I always say, "Come, enjoy, and keep it legal." The sheriff's department will not be at fault if the festival goes away; I won't accept that.

We have had no complaints from the people we dealt with at the festival. In fact, we have received two or three thank-you and apology notes. The bad perceptions only arose during a letter drive after the event. I have told the festival organizers to call me, let me know what's wrong, don't beat up on us on your way out of town.

Taborski: What do the organizers want?

Bergstrand: They believe their security is law enforcement, but it's not.

Taborski: Isn't there a security company with well-trained staff that you and the promoters of the High Sierra could agree upon to manage security for the festival?

Bergstrand: I don't know of any. All of this bad publicity after the fact hurts morale and takes a toll. The deputies feel unappreciated, and they don't understand that the silent public-the majority of people in the county-is supportive.

Taborski: You have many young, enthusiastic deputies. Isn't it possible that they get together and go into the festival adopting a kind of macho stance?

Bergstrand: Some probably do. Some are scared.

Taborski: Don't you discuss these things ahead of time?

Bergstrand: That's one thing I'm going to take over. I'm going to do the pre-briefing before they go out. We're going to work on the perception and have extra training having to do with public events.

Taborski: Can you make yourself more personally available to the public?

Bergstrand: Usually these invitations come only during election years, but I'd be more than happy to meet with the public now. I'd be happy to speak at service clubs, talk with neighborhood groups about forming neighborhood watches, and speak with people personally. Please invite me.

<span class=postbold>Budget, funding and training</span>

Taborski: Let's talk about funding and resources for the Sheriff's Office.

Bergstrand: People don't understand that in 1979, when I came to the Sheriff's Office, there were 34 sworn officers, and in 2006-2007, there are only 36. When I arrived in Plumas County, there was no CAO (county administrator's office), no human resources office. Those have grown, but the Sheriff's Office has not. Don't forget, crime is only 10 percent of what we do. The rest is public assistance-medical incidents, fires, search and rescue.

Beatley: Here are some statistics. In 1983, there were 6,000 calls to the Sheriff's Office. In 2005, there were 12,000 calls.

Bergstrand: Our training is a big component of our success. Trainees in L.A. County are no better prepared than our deputies, and we train them here in Plumas County. Other departments call and thank us after they have left. We are never not hiring, and we are always taking applications. Ideally, a candidate has already been to the academy and comes for the quality of life here.

Taborski: What would a kid from one of our local schools need to do to have a career in law enforcement in Plumas County?

Bergstrand: Talk to any of us about our jobs. Then go to Feather River College and get a degree in administration of justice. You must be 21 or older to be a deputy because the work involves going into bars, but you can always ask to ride along with our deputies to experience what the job is like.

And you can talk with any of our deputies about what qualities we are looking for, such as not taking strong drugs, not being bankrupt and not having a violent history.

Taborski: Tell us something about how you operate in the schools.

Bergstrand: We cover all areas of the county; we try not to be overwhelming and to be seen as more than just law enforcement. These days we encounter young kids-really, really young kids-during our community policing. These kids need social help, and we believe in treatment before incarceration. The community itself needs to be cured.

<span class=postbold>Personal note</span>

Taborski: Do you have any hobbies besides playing golf?

Bergstrand: (Laughing) Golf? No really, I collect rocks, tumble them, and I'm learning to cut them for jewelry. I have a Kawasaki 650cc dual sport motorcycle. That means I dirt bike and road bike with it. I like getting up in the woods with my binoculars to nature watch. I watch anything-animals, birds -I saw eight bears this season. I love the outdoors. It's been very hard for me to sit inside during the last eight years.

Taborski: You seemed to be more vocal when you were undersheriff.

Bergstrand: I think that's the job of the undersheriff. He takes care of the everyday business of the Sheriff's Office. I assign people jobs and let them do it. I provide firm leadership and attend conferences to make sure our county performs at a level equal to the rest of the state.

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County begins ID card distribution

Postby palmspringsbum » Wed Jan 31, 2007 2:06 pm

Plumas County News wrote:County approves health agency as medical marijuana ID card resource

By Victoria Metcalf
The Plumas County News
January 31, 2007

<span class=postbold>Plumas County has joined a number of counties in California that now issue medical marijuana identification cards.</span>

In Plumas County's case, it's taken three years to make the program possible.

Plumas County Public Health Agency Director Henry Foley appeared before the Board of Supervisors Jan. 23 to update the supervisors on the ID card program.

Foley also requested and received approval as the county's designated service agency to manage distribution of medical marijuana cards to those who qualify.

Along with Foley's presentation to the board, he supplied background information on Proposition 215, the medical marijuana bill approved overwhelmingly by California voters in 1996.

Also known as the Compassionate Use Act, Proposition 215 made it legal for seriously ill residents to use marijuana if recommended by a physician in California.

Although the initial proposition allowed for seriously ill people to use marijuana, it did not provide a way for law enforcement to correctly identify those persons from those illegally using the drug.

To help solve this problem and others associated with the 1996 proposition, Senate Bill 420 was passed by the legislature in 2004.

SB420 required the Department of Health Services to set up a statewide medical marijuana identification program. This program would encourage medical marijuana users to register and obtain cards.

"We applaud the board for taking up this important issue and are hopeful that Plumas County's elected officials will do the right thing and vote to protect local patients," said Aaron Smith of Safe Access Now.

"Not only will approving this important program move the county into compliance with state law, it will also be of great benefit to both patients and local law enforcement personnel," Smith added.

Safe Access is based in Santa Rosa. Smith is an ID card coordinator. The program is a statewide advocacy group promoting the ID program.

According to Smith, 24 counties - now including Plumas - are issuing cards, and others are in the process of starting the program. Lassen County is one of the counties expected to discuss implementing the program in upcoming weeks, he added.

The ID card program works to provide further protection from unnecessary detainment, arrest or seizure of medical marijuana from qualified patients, Smith explained.

In addition, the program benefits local law enforcement because it removes the burden of verifying patient documentation from officers on the street, freeing up their valuable time serving the community, Smith said.

It is taking some counties, including Plumas, time to implement the state-mandated program. Some counties have stalled in the process, Smith said.

San Diego County challenged the legality of requiring counties to implement the ID card program. One year ago, it filed a lawsuit questioning California's authority to make counties participate in the program. In December 2006, Superior Court Judge William R. Nevitt Jr. rejected San Diego County's suit, Smith explained.

In his background report to the board, Foley also pointed out that both San Diego and San Bernardino counties challenged the legality of the medical marijuana laws. Federal courts denied their positions.

"Consequently, it is now time for Plumas County to implement the Medical Marijuana Identification Card Program," Foley said in his report.

Further explaining the program, Foley said that it allows qualified patients to apply for and receive identification cards for themselves and their primary caregiver through their county of residence. Patient participation is voluntary. Provisions of SB 420 apply equally to patients and designated caregivers, whether or not they possess the card, Foley explained.

Caregivers, as mentioned, are strictly outlined in SB420. Under the terms, they can help purchase medical marijuana and help grow it for patients who need assistance. In Plumas County, as with many counties in the state, a medical marijuana patient may possess up to 12 immature plants and up to six mature plants.

There are also legal guidelines for the amount of processed marijuana that a patient may have at any one time.

Under the law, counties may allow patients to possess more processed marijuana or raise more plants, but counties cannot go below the amount mandated by law.

To acquire a new ID card, Foley said, there is an application fee of $184 per card. The public health agency retains $42 of that, and the remainder is forwarded to the state beginning March 1.

Under the program, counties are not meant to incur additional costs in implementing the program.

If the applicant is a MediCal beneficiary, the fee is reduced to $113, with $71 sent to the state. Plumas County does not lower its fee.

Plumas County residents are not required to obtain their recommendation from a Plumas physician, Smith explained. The physician may reside anywhere in the state, but must be fully licensed.

There are several reasons why patients might seek marijuana as a medical means to relieve their illnesses. Many of the illnesses or conditions are outlined in the proposition and the senate bill.

It is believed there are no physicians in Plumas County who actively recommend the use of medical marijuana.

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Five new CHP officers headed to Quincy area

Postby palmspringsbum » Sat Apr 11, 2009 1:28 pm

Plumas County News wrote:Five new CHP officers headed to Quincy area

Joshua Sebold | Staff Writer
The Plumas County News | 4/8/2009

<span class=postbold>Quincy Area California Highway Patrol Commander Paul Davis explained an upcoming increase in patrol officers to county supervisors and updated them on his most recent statistics at the Tuesday, March 24, board meeting.</span>

He began by telling the supervisors, “We actually had a real good year last year.”

He went on to inform them of statistics for the year just ended. The commander said fatal collisions were down by 33 percent, total collisions were down by 5 percent, citations were down by 8 percent, verbal warnings were up by 5 percent, driving under the influence crashes were down by 37 percent and DUI arrests were up by 15 percent compared to the prior year.

Davis said this amounted to more than 200 DUI arrests, the highest ever for Quincy Area CHP.

He addressed concerns in the community that he thought circulated “every now and then” when people started asking about why there were so many highway patrolmen in this area compared to the number in other counties.

“First I would like to say that isn’t accurate. We do do business a little differently than maybe some other areas do but for like counties we are like personnel wise, staffed.”

The commander explained the trends in arrests and DUI collisions have been increasing over the last 10 years.

He also said he was surprised to learn recently that the vast majority of DUI incidents were occurring between 3 and 10 p.m.

Davis said this particularly concerned him because that was the time period when most people were on the roads, coming home from school or work.

He also said for the first quarter of last year 30 percent of DUI crashes were from prescription medications. The commander said these two statistics caused the CHP to alter its shifts and how it did business, moving some of its priorities from late at night and early in the morning to peak hours and paying greater attention to its drug recognition program.

He added there were now three more people within his command who were “drug recognition experts,” focusing mainly on prescription medications. “So the contacts became a little bit different than what they traditionally were here.”

He said he did not have the numbers with him at the moment, but that the local CHP made more drug driving arrests recently than ever before. “So at the same time that you see some of the increase in the sheriff’s department for drug related arrests we’re also seeing them on the highway.”

Davis told the board many of the arrests have been for people with medical marijuana prescriptions who think that means they can drive while using.

He went on to say that, despite this fact, most of the arrests were from prescription medications.

Davis said that in general these were not honest mistake cases, but situations where people abused prescription drugs or knowingly drove under the influence of them, against warning labels and doctors’ orders. He also said about 50 percent of those arrests came from calls from someone who knew the driver or witnessed the driver acting strangely.

The commander said this increase in drug related DUI caused a change in CHP behavior. “Our contacts are sometimes a little bit different than what they have been traditionally in the past.

“People might feel that an officer is being rude to them when in actuality we’re looking for different things than what we were looking for a year and a half or two ago.

“We’re looking for indicators that maybe we weren’t a couple years ago.”

At this point Supervisor Ole Olsen asked if marijuana would impair someone’s driving similar to alcohol. Davis replied that it could.

Olsen went on to say, “My youngest daughter is, she’ll be turning 50 next year, and this school in Portola, the teacher said, they were discussing marijuana, ‘it’s no worse than alcohol.’

“And this came up at our dinner table and I said ‘well you know from what I understand there’s like 50,000 fatalities in the United States every year from alcohol.’

“Now if it’s no worse than alcohol, if it’s equal to alcohol, and it’s legalized, then you’re now talking a possibility of a 100,000 rather than 50,000, so that’s where the discussion ended and she brought that up in school and was criticized by the teacher.”

Davis responded, “I would say people don’t know. Where [with] alcohol we have a determined standard, .08, marijuana we have not been able to come up with a, what we, what the courts agreed is the standard of what is under the influence or not. You also build up tolerances and such.

“For us and how we do our job is if we pull somebody over and let’s say we smell marijuana, we put them through field sobriety tests.

“If they pass those field sobriety tests, depending on how they were driving let’s say, but if they’re able to pass those field sobriety tests we would think they’re not in that case under the influence of alcohol.”

He continued, “I would say that we don’t have a clue how many people in the United States have been killed in motor vehicle accidents as a result of marijuana use. I don’t think we even have touched on that.”

The commander then supplied the supervisors with statistics for the first quarter of this year.

He said DUI arrests were up 60 percent, citations were down 14 percent, verbal warnings were up 50 percent and traffic collisions were down 40 percent compared to the first quarter of last year.

Davis told the board there would be 24-hour patrol around Quincy this year.

Supervisor Robert Meacher asked why Portola, Chester and Greenville wouldn’t receive that as well.

Davis said he couldn’t get enough people. He explained he was getting five new people in Quincy, which would bring the total up to 16.

“And that’s what it would take, five people to go to 24?” Meacher asked.

“Yes because we’re on 12-hour shifts, so we have three people on, three people are off,” the commander replied.

Davis added he didn’t request this group of additional officers, saying, “The commissioner of the highway patrol was a little embarrassed that in the year 2009 we didn’t have 24-hour patrol on our state highways so he made a commitment to provide 24-hour patrol.

“He also is aware that now more than any time in rural counties, they need the help for assistance and he wants the state to be able to provide that assistance.”

He mentioned that Susanville and Trinity River were also making changes or receiving extra personnel to achieve 24-hour coverage.

The commander said the coverage would extend from Shady Rest on Highway 70 to the Graeagle/Blairsden turn.

He said the current Quincy Area staff consisted of 19 officers, three supervisors and four non-uniform personnel.

Davis said a lot of personnel were needed for 24-hour coverage because cars had to have two officers each for shifts after 10 p.m.

Meacher asked how many of the 200 or so DUI arrests were locals.

“Cause we always say it’s the flatlanders,” Thrall added.

“Yeah it’s not, it’s not only, there’s some good friends of mine that have been arrested,” Davis responded.

“They were friends you say?” Olsen quipped.

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