The Coastal Post - May 1999

County Pot Program A Bust

By Rev. Lynnette M. Shaw

How much ink was spent announcing the glorious progressive County of Marin medical marijuana identification program last year, when County Supervisors Kress and Kinsey figured they could backslap themselves all the way to Amsterdam, cut the Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana out of the loop and become the Medical Pot Guys?

I wrote an IJ editorial excoriating them, warning patients that there was no protection provided in this weakly-developed and thinly-disguised Who's the Favorite Pot Guy? contest. The reaction from the Guys was unfriendly and snobbish, to say the least. Who was I to criticize them, when they were the big Supes who could tell the Sheriff what to do? My reply was that there had to be written guarantees that the Sheriff was paying attention, but my concerns were ignored, along with my phone calls.

The real problem I have been trying to alert them to is that their so-called County Medical Marijuana Identification program is a ticket to jail for anyone who is identified. Eight people ignored my warnings and signed up for the county ID program. Out of eight people on the County list, at least five that I know of have been arrested for medical marijuana or had their plants confiscated after receiving their County card. Our ratio is about 15 out of 800, spread out over Marin, all of whom were released when the MAMM paperwork and legal assistance came through.

The worst-case scenario is the Dr. Alan Ager case. I have recently re-enrolled Dr. Ager into the Marin Alliance program after his sincere apology for false public statements regarding my character and my organization.

Taking a look at Dr. Ager's records, I was shocked to discover that the County of Marin had specifically cleared him, as patient number one, to grow medical marijuana. He had a letter from the Acting Director of Health and Human Services at the time, Donna Carfagno, clearly indicating that the County supported his status as a legal marijuana user/grower, and that HHS endorsed his genetic research idea. Six weeks after being blessed by the Board of Supervisors and HHS, the County sheriffs marched in for the arrest. Both the doctor and his son were physically abused by the sheriffs, who found it amusing that Dr. Ager actually thought that the County had issued him a card to grow pot. The jail videotape apparently shows the beatings and has been allowed into evidence, a big first.

Plus, bonus points, someone in the Sheriffs' department had gotten a narcosnitch wired for sound, who claimed to be working for the Marin Alliance, and convinced Daniel Ager that he would get his father re-instated with MAMM if he found some marijuana for the CBC Marin. Of course, the CBC Marin does not purchase nor distribute marijuana in the streets, but Dan loves his father and wanted to believe this phony entrapment would help. Then, Dr. Ager got charged with sales by association, although he knew nothing about the deal that supposedly included his return to our protective arms. The Marin Alliance disclaims this type of sting operation and is looking into a lawsuit to ensure that such practices cease and desist.

Considering the recent Institute of Medicine report that proclaims marijuana has medical worth, you might think that Dr. Ager's vast knowledge of cannabis genetics and obvious growing talent would have a new-found value to the medical profession, and would secure a positive and safe future for him and his family. I am appalled over the treatment he has received, when the County itself told him to go ahead and grow!

My recent meeting with Nancy Rubin, our new HHS Director, found an intelligent administrator who was concerned to find such a poorly-prepared program in place showing disastrous results. The County should not deceive sick persons with vote-getting promises, when obviously the only guarantee you get is that the Sheriff will come if you sign up for the County ID Card.

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