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Berkeley: MEASURE TO RESCIND LIMIT ON MEDICAL MARIJUANA
Swirling in the alphabet soup of initiatives voters will face Tuesday is Berkeley's controversial Measure R--The Patients Access to Medical Cannabis Act of 2004--which aims to abolish current medical marijuana amount limits for homes and dispensaries and establish a peer review committee made up of members of currently operating clubs to certify new dispensaries.
MEASURE TO RESCIND LIMIT ON MEDICAL MARIJUANA
Swirling in the alphabet soup of initiatives voters will face Tuesday
is Berkeley's controversial Measure R--The Patients Access to Medical
Cannabis Act of 2004--which aims to abolish current medical marijuana
amount limits for homes and dispensaries and establish a peer review
committee made up of members of currently operating clubs to certify
Under the measure, clubs could keep on hand as much marijuana as
doctors say patients need. Patients who grow their own marijuana would
be able to cultivate as much they and their doctors see fit.
"Measure R does away with arbitrary limits," said Dege Coutee,
director of social services for the Berkeley Patients Group, one of
Berkeley's three medical marijuana clubs.
Some patients may need more marijuana than current laws permit, she
"We have very sick people here and very qualified staff taking care of
them," said Coutee.
Coutee said one goal of Measure R is to update city laws to reflect
Proposition 215, the state's medical marijuana law passed in 1996. An
April City Council proposal to make similar updates failed.
A loosening of limits in Berkeley has some public officials
In a report to the city council on the measure, Berkeley Police
Department warned of a reprisal of problems encountered two years ago
at a now defunct University Avenue dispensary. The club was robbed at
gunpoint, and robbers made off with piles of cash and a pound of marijuana.
Coutee said representatives from other Berkeley dispensaries worked
with police to force the club out of town. But a recent pot bust in
Berkeley has some on edge about increased drug-related crime.
"It worries me. It think it's a real magnet," said Councilmember Linda
Maio, who sponsored the council's recent club limit ordinance. "There
was this bust just the other day by campus with all that dope and
weapons," she said in reference to last week's arrest of three UC
Berkeley students on drug and weapons charges.
Current Berkeley laws restrict home growth to 10 indoor and outdoor
plants and 2.5 pounds of dried marijuana. Medical Marijuana
dispensaries are limited to a total of 12.5 pounds of dried cannabis
and up to 50 live plants.
The measure would also technically allow potential dispensaries to
sidestep public hearings to obtain a commercial zoning permit. But
under a recently passed city council ordinance, Berkeley is limited to
its current three pot clubs.
Those three dispensaries have been commended by the city council and
police for their service to the community and for keeping a low profile.
Unlike other cities, no Berkeley dispensaries have run afoul of
federal drug laws. Should one of the clubs be raided on federal drug
charges--which trump state and city laws--city officials would be
responsible for the dispensation of medical cannabis under Measure
Even if Measure R does not pass, Councilmember Kriss Worthington says
he believes that "voters in Berkeley are passionately in favor of
Worthington cast the only dissenting vote on the club limit ordinance
and has vowed to bring up the plant limit issue to the newly formed
council in December.
"I think the limit should be set by the doctor, not by political
rhetoric," he said.