“The difference really was the quality,” she says. “Medical marijuana [from the dispensaries] — you’re paying out the butt for it. Street prices, you can get half a pound of Mexi on the street for anywhere from $300–$350 for half a pound; but you go to a medical-marijuana store, and you pay $70 for an eighth of an ounce,” or $1200 for a half pound.
Daley smokes both strains of pot, indica to enhance sleep and sativa to palliate her chronic pain. The most popular theory differentiating the two relates to the fact that the sativa plant has a higher THC-to-CBD ratio. Its ingestion yields a livelier high — think Bill Cosby’s take on a pothead laughing his ass off at a hamburger. This sort of high diminishes the body’s pain levels to a manageable degree. The converse ratio — higher CBD-to-THC — is found in the indica strain, allowing a smoker to achieve a heavier high — think the languishing, stoned-out look of a veteran pothead. In fact, the stereotype is not altogether unfair: it is this particular property of indica that facilitates a horizontal attitude after ingestion.
“So far, medical marijuana has handled every MS symptom I’ve had,” Daley attests.
According to Daley, she was never charged with a crime after the raid, receiving only an incident report from the CVPD.
“I think once the cops found out I was small potatoes, they never came back. They never did anything to me. They told me not to grow ever again — and I said, ‘Don’t worry about that — you scared the you-know-what right out of me.’ ”
And with a wave of her hand, she dismisses the police and neighbors as two of medical marijuana’s more unfortunate — but acceptable — side effects.
How big? How much? How often?
Despite Daley’s insouciance, San Diego’s legal community is feeling the side effects of medical marijuana. And no wonder, given that San Diego has a hate-hate relationship with Prop 215. The anti–medical-marijuana crowd hates it for going too far to indulge the rights of patients, and the pro–medical-marijuana crowd hates it for not going far enough.
Whichever side of the joint Californians see it from, Prop 215 ensures the right to medical marijuana as recommended by a physician and lists a number of diseases that benefit from its use. It ensures that patients, physicians, and caregivers are protected under the law from persecution or sanction. It even has the benefit of an accompanying bill — California SB 420 was signed into law as Gray Davis’s parting shot in 2003 — calling for the creation of a voluntary identification-card program and limiting the number of plants — 6 mature and 12 immature — a patient may grow. SB 420 also limits the size of a patient’s stash to eight ounces at any one time.
San Diego attorney Patrick Dudley never meant to become involved with medical-marijuana law. But as lawmakers pass a flurry of amendments and clarifications on Prop 215 around the statehouse like doobies on a Saturday night, lawyers such as Dudley are stuck defending a stream of California residents hauled into court on federal charges. Knowing that these cases, which stem from foggy distinctions persisting in the current law, can be easily remedied, Dudley’s routine has all the professional satisfaction of getting stuck with an empty roach clip.
In dislodging marijuana patients from between the horns of federal and state statutes, Dudley has become one of a growing battalion of San Diego lawyers who find more of their time taken up by Prop 215.
One aspect of the law vulnerable to abuse — which Dudley knows because he’s seen it firsthand — is the issue of quantity. How much cannabis, either in a Baggie or in the ground, is a patient allowed to possess?
He explains: “The courts have come down and said that since Prop 215, broadly speaking, does provide for specific quantities of processed marijuana, it’s very difficult, in fact impossible, to say how many plants is enough or too much.” Law-enforcement groups see a pound-per-plant limit, while patients’ rights advocates claim that the ratio of production to yield cannot have an absolute value. “These patients’ advocates will say it’s really about the size of the grow. That’s how you can get a better, more precise calibration of how much cannabis these plants produce.
“The law as it stands also reveals the lack of, shall we say, botanical know-how among lawmakers and, for that matter, law-enforcers. Just to play the numbers, it’s difficult, especially for someone who is a novice grower, to get the right quantity out of the right number of plants.”
A 12-plant limit, Dudley notes, does not account for variables that invariably come into play when Mother Nature gets involved.
“According to law enforcement, any plant is counted which is rooted. So, even if you have little baby plants that you’re getting ready to grow after this grow is done, knowing that a grow takes between three and four months from beginning to end, then those baby plants count too — even though they’re not flowering at the time [and therefore void of medicinal value]. Young plants just ratchet up the plant total when really they’re just growing 12 [medicinally viable plants] at a time. So the language is not carefully crafted. If the law is going to name a specific quantity, then they need to be much more precise.”
Dudley doesn’t see a solution in the plants themselves but in the places where the plants are grown — what size is the canopy? What size the room? What’s the square footage? How high is the grow-room’s ceiling?
“From a legal standpoint, that’s a better way to go,” he says but notes that so far these questions have remained unanswered.
Lawmakers and law enforcers alike have more fertile ground for legal action, Dudley concludes, when they remain rooted to qualifiable issues regarding medical marijuana.
“What illnesses are credible, and what illnesses aren’t? I see a lot of gray area in this question — and I understand why law enforcement struggles with it.” But the law is straightforward on this issue, Dudley insists. The marijuana doctor can write a recommendation for any condition he deems a serious illness.