The Coastal Post - September, 1997

Disabled Woman, Caregiver Faced Deputies' Guns.

Now Prosecution?

A Sonoma County woman who suffers from lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and bone deformities, watched helplessly as Sheriff's deputies pointed guns at her partner/caregiver's head, and cut plants in the small marijuana garden the morning of August 14. She had been counting on the plants to provide her with medical marijuana, of which her physician approves.

Attorney Sandy Feinland says of his client, "She is a legitimate chronic pain patient. Proposition 215 was designed to allow people like her to use marijuana to alleviate their pain, and I think the way she was going about obtaining it was the most reasonable way imaginable."

But Sonoma County District Attorney Mike Mullins has informed Feinland he intends to prosecute the woman and her partner of eight years (who is also her designated caregiver) with felony cultivation. A

conviction could put the couple in state prison for up to three years.

The Compassionate Use Act (passed into law last year when California voters approved Proposition 215 by a wide margin) exempts patients and their caregivers from prosecution for cultivating marijuana for use recommended or approved of by a physician.

But Feinland is disappointed in the response of some state and county officials. "A law overwhelmingly approved by the voters to help people alleviate their pain is not being followed by those charged with upholding the law," says Feinland.